The multidimensional causal factors of ‘wet litter’ in chicken-meat production

Published on: 11/22/2016
Author/s : Mark W. Dunlop, a, b, e; Amy F. Moss, c; Peter J. Groves, c; Stuart J. Wilkinson, d; Richard M. Stuetz, b; Peter H. Selle, c; / a Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government, Toowoomba, Australia, b University of New South Wales, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sydney, Australia, c The University of Sydney, Poultry Research Foundation, Camden, Australia, d Feedworks, Romsey, Australia, e Poultry CRC, University of New England, Armidale,Australia.

1. Introduction The occurrence of ‘wet litter’ in meat chicken sheds is associated with concerns regarding animal welfare, flock health, food safety, environmental impacts and reductions in production efficiency. Mitigating wet litter will only be achieved when there is thorough understanding of the multidimensional causal factors. This will require a multidisciplinary approach to un...

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Daniel Venne Daniel Venne
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
November 22, 2016
Great article. Maybe you should include Ca and P effect on DEB and it would then explain the phytase effect. The DEB has a major effect on blood pH and in particular the metabolic component. Calcium, hemoglobin,phosphorous and protein are buffers in the blood th bird will alter to counteract respiratory and metabolic changes that affect blood pH. We must also remember that the birds kidney does not have the Henley loops for reabsorbing water. It uses the ceacal pouches instead and this explains the flushing we can see in certain cases. Keep up the good work.

Daniel Venne, D.M.V., M.Sc., A.C.P.V.
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November 25, 2016
Very interesting research work. The basic question is HOW TO PREVENT THE LITTER FROM BEING WET?? In our country, we are now in SUMMER. Birds will drink more water. The humidity will be high. The ventilation should be properly regulated. Heat stress will have to be well managed. Water quality is a priority especially in drought condition. Welfare is a concern as we do not respect the density. The litter material must absorb the excreted water efficiently. Beware of water spillage. The solution to wet litter is not simple but it can be controlled by a close monitoring of the flock.
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November 25, 2016
This problem is in fact real and good management of water intake is of vital importance,despite the birds high consumption ,good water management may help enourmousely in solving the problem,and workng the litter regularly will be an advantage.The density of birds and the appropriate water points are of high importance.
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Natural Remedies - Organisation
Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd
Karnataka, India
November 25, 2016
Due to enhancements in genetic potential the broilers during the finisher stage consumes more feed & water as a results to higher metabolism therefore higher metabolic water is excreted which is quiete normal but in higher humid areas specially deep litter/ floor rearing leads to higher ammonia levels which is predisposing factors for respiratory infections, this also leads to hyper secretion in turn nutrients are flushed out before properly utilised to the body, Natural remedies India has developed a phytogenic additive for this problem of course management part is more than adding merely a supplement .
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Sataluri Satagopa Raja Ayyangar Sataluri Satagopa Raja Ayyangar
B .Sc ( Mathematics , Physics and Chemistry ) ; P G Diploma in Environmental Studies ; P G Diploma in Industrial Pollution Management ; Industrial Chemistry ( B I E T )
November 26, 2016
The best and less cost method of absorbing both water and foul gasses including Ammonia is done by maintaining 10 to 12 inches of Rice husk Ash or Sugarcane Bagasse ash or any biochar prepared by burning agri waste under controlled temp . By physical observation you can change the media at regular intervals.
This method willm definetly absorb water , Ammonia and foul gases ..The material after removing at frequent intervals can be used for the preparation of Biofertilizer or for producing biogas along with other materials.
If you maintain regularly you can observe there will be no smell in and around .Water leaks from taps are to be controlleds .
This technique can be adopted through out the year either rainy season, winter season or summer .
If any body interested may contact my email: ayyangar.sataluri@yahoo.in
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Emad Elgazzar Emad Elgazzar
MASTER and PHD degree in microbiology
November 26, 2016
All suggestions are right but let me add another view to solve the problem of wet letter in broiler farms for poultry let me divide to the main ways.
1-Water-------
2-Feed----
3-Managements----
*Water (TDS-TBC-Temp optimal of the water&calculate consumed quantity)
*Feed quality -- %of fiber-%of protein-quality of protein- salt contents sod.pot.&sulphat. ------) type of feed with complete feed analysis with detection of mycotoxins) consumed feed quantity
Management :letter materials even disinfection of the letter,depth of the letter layer--temperature inside &outside the house-day and night ... body weight monitoring-mortality rate
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November 26, 2016
From field experience in our region which is humid and hot , we planned to solve the problem of wetting and gases in brioler farms by applying the tunnel ventilation system and water nipple with cap lines. We carfully monitor the inner climate parameters according to the age and hourly out-side climate conditions. In my opinion, if the total volume of air inside the house is moved out side per one minute, the climate for birds will be very convenient ( no ammonia no dust ..etc). The issue of humidity is under controlled is such closed houses. In conclusion: the performance of birds are at optimal.
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November 26, 2016
I must state that this study is beneficial and a lot of effort put in it....
Generally, we do not suffer from wet litter in all house, but in case we have a problem with the water line or nipples we remove immediately the wetted litter and change by new dry litter in that small wetted area only.
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Silas Abel Silas Abel
Ph.D
November 27, 2016
Wet litters in broilers pen could result if the pen has high stocking density, high salty water, weak faulty water dispensers and bad stockman management amongst others-- Dr. Silas Abel
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Youssef Attia Youssef Attia
Professor
November 27, 2016
I have seen good suggestions by these gentlemen, poor ventilation, high moisture content in extra, high sodium intake , high protein and low energy diet among the other cases.
Thus, one has to be aware of nutritional management and husbandry practice related to the problem.
Reply
November 28, 2016
27.11.16:
In my field experience, I found most of the cases the cause of wet litter problem in meat-purpose chicken is due to enteritis & inappropriate digestion of feed materials. Enteritis due to Clostridial infection, E. coli infection, Salmonellosis, Irritation of undigested feed materials in the intestine etc. By gross & post mortem examination or, in some cases by bacterial culture test, we can diagnose the actual cause and treat accordingly.

Regards
Dr. Mahbub
DVM
Reply
November 28, 2016
Wet litter can be caused by a lot of factors. These include stocking density that leads to heat stress, consumption of rancid oil in which case the bird cannot digest and will then drink a lot of water to get rid of from the system, consumption of feed stuffs that cannot be easily digested which is then needed to be expelled and this is done with the aid of excess water intake.
Wet litter can be prevented by good ventilation, preventing the use of rancid oil in feed and use of good quality feed stuff that can easily be digested by the chicken.
Reply
November 28, 2016
I think temperature and relative humidity is most important factor of the broiler management.every hourly we want to check this combination and monitoring birds reactions. Then we can adjust the cooling temperature and eveporative cooling time.also ventilation increase or decrease. 10am to 3pm is most important period in day time and in night time we can manage the optimum ventilation rate.
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Robert Huggins Robert Huggins
Animal Nutritionist
November 28, 2016
Wet litter has always been a problem in broiler rearing. While all the above points are valid in reducing this problem, including in this is water quality. If sodium, magnesium and sulphate ions are high in the water, this coupled with sodium can lead to a laxative effect in the birds. The other problem leading to wet litter is the Carbon: Nitrogen ration between litter and manure. Our experience was always to start broiler houses with at least 6" (150mm) litter and add as need be. We also replaced any wet spots immediately with dry litter so as to maintain a low moisture litter. We litter leads to ammonia release caused by bacterial action on the protein source (manure), it is also caused by the reaction of lime from the feed reacting with a protein source under the influence of water; double whammy, respiratory problems, footpad dermatitis etc. In short always keep your litter dry.
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Leo Antony Leo Antony
Consultant in Poultry management and training
November 29, 2016

All the causes mentioned- especially those related to nutrition- by our panelists are very much pertinent and need to be systematically gone through whenever there are problems related to wet litter. One obvious connected issue is GUT HEALTH which is often overlooked and can decide the consistency of droppings.. Post mortem lesions that are indicative of bacterial or fungal infections should be first attended to before we can speculate on other probable factors.
Apart from gut infections, as Dr.Robert Huggins has so well pointed out, water containing salts higher than those permissible for poultry can also add to or even trigger the wet litter problem. This, therefore requires periodic(at least once a year) analysis of drinking water for chemical composition. From what I have observed, most often water from poultry farms are screened only for bacterial contamination.
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karunamoorthy gopal karunamoorthy gopal
poultry consultant
December 1, 2016
Recently wet litter condition in broiler breeder houses in elevated caged system attained significant importances.This condition helps to active breeding for house fly. This is nuisance to the public who are residing around the farm area.This is more worsened between 20 and 36weeks age of breeders.In the investigation,the nutritional,fungal and health causes are ruled out.The main reasons being more water intake and water is leaking through nipple either due to leaking or pressure.The situation restored normal in many farms after rectified this defect.
Reply
 Dr. Gregus Zoltan Dr. Gregus Zoltan
Animal Nutritionist
December 8, 2016


Wet litter is a multifactorial problem - no doubt, as you well know.
There are many scientific and field trials showing that the forgotten nutrient "Fiber" has a huge Impact on litter humidity - as Mr. Emad mentioned.

To inform you about this issue please check:

- The impact of crude fibre concentrate on footpad dermatitis in Broilers (Published on: 1/16/2015, Author/s : Dr. Manfred Pietsch)

- Dietary Fibre, the Forgotten Nutrient? (Published on: 9/9/2016, Author/s : Jacky Michard / Hubbard Nutritionist)

- Use of Dietary Fiber in Broilers (Published on: 2/15/2014, Author/s : Encarnación Jiménez-Moreno1* and Gonzalo G. Mateos2 (1Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, Universidad de Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 2Department of Animal Production, University Polytechnic of Madrid, Madrid, Spain)

BR, Zoltan

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Robert Huggins Robert Huggins
Animal Nutritionist
December 8, 2016
Although proper nutrition and the addition of some fibre is very important in gut health and to some extent ammonia reduction in the barn, there is a limit as to how much fibre can be added to the diet without having adverse effects. It is probably more important to insure that there no dripping nipples, or if water troughs are used that the height of the water is such that if the birds hit the trough no spillage occurs. There also needs to be adequate airflow to remove any excess moisture. More importantly however, is the presence of adequate litter in the barn which provides the fibre for microbial action. Overlooked is the fact that in the faeces there is uric acid, a source of nitrogen, undigested calcium and moisture, a recipe for ammonia if additional moisture is present contributing to foot pad dermatitis as ammonium hydroxide is alkaline and can burn the pads, causing damage resulting in bacterial invasion. Don't underestimate the benefit of adequate litter as a way or reducing wet litter and other problems associated with it. The price of adequate litter far outweighs vet bills and dead or condemned birds.
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Amy Moss Amy Moss
Animal Nutritionist
December 8, 2016
Thank you everyone for your comments and feedback, it is very much appreciated and some very interesting points have been presented.
In particular, I agree with your comment Robert Higgins.
While wet litter is certainly a multi-factoral issue with many nutritional and health related predisposing factors, the importance of water line and drinker maintenance, ventilation and litter quality and depth cannot be overlooked. My understanding of the issue is that in most cases, excellent grower management of the housing environment can mitigate problems with wet litter.
Reply
December 14, 2016
To prevent wet litter, you need regularly measure relative humidity of air in poultry house. If it exceeds 55 -60%, you must increase ventilation. It works very well, if outside temperature or relative humidity much lower, than inside the house.
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