Monitoring Litter Moisture

Forum: Monitoring Litter Moisture

Published on: 07/18/2012
Author/s : Dr. Mike Czarick, Dr. Brian D. Fairchild (The University of Georgia)
A major component of broiler management is maintaining good litter quality throughout the flock. Litter quality is negatively influenced by moisture. As litter moisture increases, litter quality decreases. Factors that affect litter moisture include drinker management, bird health, bird density, ventilation rates, litter depth and litter type. Typically broiler facilities are bedded with...
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July 18, 2012
Thanks for these important insights. It might be interesting to do tests to see how certain treatments or management techniques impact litter quality and have a quantifiable way of testing this.
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Robert Wong Robert Wong
Animal Nutritionist
July 18, 2012

Litter quality inside opened broiler houses in the tropics is a major problem. However , most farmers do not see them as a problem.

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Leo Antony Leo Antony
Consultant in Poultry management and training
July 19, 2012
This is an excellent suggestion for estimation of moisture in the litter. In fact I have been suggesting to farm managers, a similar, but admittedly, a cruder method for doing the same. Most of the farms in India have difficulty in approaching a laboratory for this type of test which needs to be done so very often because the litter condition in tropical countries where birds are housed in open houses can vary from day to day, depending on the weather, management and so on. What i suggest is that we take a known quantity of litter, say, i kg and roast it under fire till it turns dry and crisp. The rest of the calculation is done as the author in this article has indicated.Although a bit crude, as I mentioned, .I have found this to be a simpler, cheaper and a more practical way in this part of the world.
With due respect to the author, allow me to make an comment on the author;s final observation that any litter that has moisture more than 30% will stick to your hands. This is very true but in many cases where you use litter like paddy husk or Peanut shells and the stuff is fresh,the litter can hold more that 40% moisture and still not stick to your hands. People who assess moisture by this method could well remember this fact and not be misled..
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July 19, 2012

19.07.2012,
Dear Dr. Brain & Dr. Mike
Thank you very much for presenting a drying protocol on how to find out litter moisture. As you have said that it is a labour intensive and results can be obtained after 24 hours, this measurement is a valuable piece of information particularly for close house broiler operations. Very simple method described clearly and one does not have to grope in the dark about litter moisture hereafter. In laboratory, we normally maintain a temperature of about 105 oC (221 oF) for estimating moisture but in the protocol you have described is far lesser than that. Could you please highlight on this.
Best Regards,
D.C.Hettiarachchi

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July 19, 2012
The temperature used may vary depending on the drying oven that is being used. We are using a Blue-M drying oven that is ventilated very well which aids in drying time. Still air ovens would take longer and would likely require a higher temperature. Another reason we tend to use lower temperature is to make sure that we are not denaturing the sample extensively. In some of our tests the dried sample may be utilized for further analysis. Therefore I do not want the denatured sample to affect either the moisture calculation nor any additional tests that might be run. This procedure is use for many different samples from soil, eggs component estimations, etc...
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July 19, 2012

Dr. Brian,

Thank you for the quick response. I have already circulated the method in our management circle, this would help us to improve the litter quality in our evap. coiling broiler houses.

Best Regards

D.C.Hettiarachchi - Sri Lanka

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July 19, 2012
I like this article. Dr. Brian has explanation low temperature was used for the moisture analysis, hence, 24 hour period was allowed. This is a simple understanding of a lab procedure for a particular test sample. such variations may be allowed depending on the type of test sample and oven temperature. That is the lower the oven temperature, the longer the duration of oven drying.
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July 21, 2012

Dear Mr. Onwuka,

Dr. Brian's point is very clear. According to him, he does not want to denature the sample as the sample is to be subjected to further analysis for other constituents.

D.C.Hettiarachchi - Sri Lanka
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Silas Abel Silas Abel
Ph.D
September 6, 2012

Mike, I love this topic but to which extent do you think your formula can go in calculating the M.C

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Ngu Moses Ngu Moses
Sales Consultant
November 9, 2012
Has there been any successful trials of moisture meters to quickly and easliy monitor/check MC. we are working on a current project to address this issue for a customer and wonder if any work has been done in this area.
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Dr. Mike Czarick Dr. Mike Czarick
Agricultural Engineer
November 9, 2012
We have tried a multitude of meters. We haven't found one that produces consistent, accurate results.
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Ngu Moses Ngu Moses
Sales Consultant
November 9, 2012
Dr Czarick if you are interested we will be running a trial site utilising a mixture of real time monitoring and manual sampling using moisture meters/probes/sensors and loggers from 3 manufacturers, Schaller, Decagon and Wile we hope with the right combination of equipment and sensible sampling process we will achieve accurate, repeatable results if we are able to ensure integrity of our primary reference for initial and ongoing (6 monthly) calibration. As we progress I will post updates and findings.
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Dr. Mike Czarick Dr. Mike Czarick
Agricultural Engineer
November 10, 2012
Ngu:
We look forward to hearing about your results.
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