Preliminary results from a Poultry CRC project being undertaken by DPI&F Queensland examining the reuse of chicken litter across broiler cycles have indicated that levels of food-borne pathogens are not any higher in re-used litter than those found in single-batch rearing.
The Project Leader, QDPI&F's Nalini Chinivasagam, commenced litter trials on two farms in June last year with the aim of understanding the relationship between current practices and pathogen levels in litter, as well as other physical parameters.
In her progress report to the CRC, Nalini made the following significant observation concerning one of the trials.
While complete data analysis has yet to be performed, the initial review of the trial indicates that there is no markedly higher level of food-borne pathogens in the re-used litter samples collected over the full broiler cycle compared with single-batch rearing controls.
According to Poultry CRC CEO, Professor Mingan Choct, litter itself is becoming a burden to producers for two reasons.
"Firstly, some producers are running out of disposal options, and secondly, in some areas, producers are running out of suitable materials to use as litter," said Mingan.
"The practices of single-batch rearing and multiple use of the same litter are both widespread, so there is a concern that repeated use of litter may lead to an accumulation of pathogens that are of interest to the industry."
"Therefore, the CRC commissioned this research to look at whether food-borne pathogens increase with repeated use of litter," explained Mingan.
"The results so far are significant, confirming what has been known around the world for some time - that multiple use of litter is safe."