Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #410982

Research Project: Sustaining Productivity and Ecosystem Services of Agricultural and Horticultural Systems in the Southeastern United States

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Evaluation of the impact of gypsum as a novel bedding material on broiler performance, foot pad health, and fear response

Author
item ESCOBAR, CESAR - Auburn University
item Watts, Dexter
item Torbert, Henry - Allen
item BAILEY, MATTHEW - Auburn University
item KREHLING, JAMES - Auburn University
item LANDERS, DENISE - Auburn University
item JACKSON, ALEXANDRA - Auburn University
item GILPIN, MELISSA - Auburn University
item STILL, KATIE - Auburn University
item MUNOZ, LUIS - Auburn University
item ORELLANA, LETICIA - Auburn University
item ADHIKARI, YAGYA - Auburn University
item MACKLIN, KENNETH - Mississippi State University
item BAKER-COOK, BETHANY - Auburn University

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/18/2024
Publication Date: 4/1/2024
Citation: Escobar, C., Watts, D.B., Torbert Iii, H.A., Bailey, M.A., Krehling, J.T., Landers, D., Jackson, A.P., Gilpin, M., Still, K., Munoz, L.R., Orellana, L., Adhikari, Y., Macklin, K.S., Baker-Cook, B. 2024. Evaluation of the impact of gypsum as a novel bedding material on broiler performance, foot pad health, and fear response. Poultry Science. 103:103676. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2024.103676.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2024.103676

Interpretive Summary: Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum is a byproduct generated following the removal of sulfur dioxide from the flue gas at coal-fired power plants. This study aimed to evaluate the use of FGD gypsum as a bedding for broiler production, focusing on bird performance, foot lesions, and fear response over five continuous flocks. No overall effect was observed for feed intake or mortality. Foot lesions were higher for pine shavings (industry standard) than the bedding treatments with gypsum. No difference in fear response was observed between the birds raised on any of the gypsum litter treatments or the pine shaving litter. Overall, the use of gypsum as bedding resulted in equivalent production and fear response to pine shavings, while improving foot pad quality when compared to pine shavings.

Technical Abstract: Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) gypsum is a byproduct of the coal-fired power plant process that is commonly used to remove sulfur dioxide emissions from the flue gas. FGD gypsum has many industrial, agricultural, and environmental applications. This study aimed to evaluate the use of gypsum combined with different litter treatments as bedding for broiler production, focusing on performance, foot pad dermatitis (FPD) scores, and fear response over five continuous flocks. A total of 1,800 one-day-old Ross 708 birds were randomly assigned to 24 pens (75 birds/pen) divided into six experimental groups, with five repetitions and raised until day (d) 42. Litter treatments were gypsum that was decaked (D), rotovated (E), and rotovated then windrowed (F) between flocks. Control treatments using pine shavings were decaked (A), rotovated (B), and windrowed post-rotovating (C). Adjusted Feed Conversion Ratio (AFCR) and mortality were used as a measure of production. FPD scores were taken on d42 using a scale of 0 (absence), 1, and 2. Response to observer and human approach test were used to measure fear response. Data were analyzed as a two-way ANOVA using Proc Glimmix and Poisson distribution. Means were separated using Tukey’s HSD in SAS® v 9.4 software. No overall effect of treatment was found for AFCR or mortality. FPD scores 2 and 1, were higher for pine shaving treatments than gypsum treatments (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.01, respectively). While FPD scores 0 were higher for gypsum treatments than the pine shaving treatments (P < 0.0001). No difference in fear response was found between birds raised on any of the gypsum litter treatments and any of the pine shaving litter treatments. Overall, the use of gypsum as bedding results in equivalent production and fear response to pine shavings, while increasing FPD quality when compared to pine shaving.