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Research Project: Using Agricultural and Industrial Byproducts to Improve Crop Production Systems and Environment Quality

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Flue gas desulfurization gypsum: Its effectiveness as an alternative bedding material for broiler production

Author
item Watts, Dexter
item Hess, Joseph - Auburn University
item Bilgili, Sacit - Auburn University
item Torbert, Henry - Allen
item Sibley, Jeff - Auburn University
item Davis, Jeremiah - Auburn University

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/25/2016
Publication Date: 2/17/2017
Citation: Watts, D.B., Hess, J.B., Bilgili, S.F., Torbert III, H.A., Sibley, J.L., Davis, J.D. 2017. Flue gas desulfurization gypsum: Its effectiveness as an alternative bedding material for broiler production. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 26:50-59.

Interpretive Summary: Traditionally, pine shavings have been the bedding material of choice for broiler chicken production. In recent years, the availability of pine shaving has decreased in some geographical regions due to competition for forest products and expansion of the broiler industry. This has resulted in the search for low-cost alternative bedding materials. Synthetic gypsum produced at utilities as a by-product of power generation maybe a viable alternative. Thus, a study was conducted to evaluate the influence that power company by-product gypsum has on broiler chicken production when used as bedding in three successive trials. Body weight of the broiler chickens grown on by-product gypsum were lower than pine shavings in trial 1, while similar body weights was observed in trials 2 and 3. Temperature and moisture content of the by-product gypsum bedding material during broiler growth was comparable to pine shavings, while the by-product gypsum tended to form a surface crust. Foot lesions, which is often used as an index of animal welfare were lower on broilers raised on by-product gypsum in trial 1 only. Ammonia concentrations from by-product gypsum bedding was also lower than with pine shavings in trial 1 only, further indicating that byproduct gypsum may improve animal welfare conditions of broilers and minimize the negative impacts that ammonia has on air quality, improving conditions for workers in the production facilities.

Technical Abstract: Flue gas desulfurization gypsum (FGDG) may be a viable low-cost alternative bedding material for broiler production. In order to evaluate FGD gypsum’s viability, three consecutive trials were conducted to determine its influence on live performance (body weight, feed consumption, feed efficiency, and footpad dermatitis), litter characteristics (caking, moisture percent, and temperature) and ammonia volatilization in three successive flocks. FGD gypsum was compared with pine shaving (PS), pine bark (PB), pine shaving + gypsum, pine bark + gypsum, pine shaving + pine bark, gypsum + pine shaving, gypsum + pine bark. Bedding had no significant influence on feed consumption, feed efficiency, and mortality. Body weight and adjusted feed efficiency were significantly lower with gypsum compared to that of pine shavings in trial 1, with no differences being observed for the other bedding materials. No differences were noted for live performance in trial 2 or 3. Incidences of footpad lesions were lower with FGD gypsum than the other bedding materials, but only during the first trial. Bedding had no influence on litter temperature. Gravimetric moisture content of the gypsum was lower than the other beddings; however, visually the gypsum was more compacted and had a surface crust. Reductions in ammonia volatilization were also observed during the initial trail with gypsum, however, its effectiveness had diminished by trial 2 and 3.