Nut husks (general)

Nut hulls (also known as husks or shells) are the hard, usually fibrous, protective outer layer of nuts that protects the seed or kernel. They are usually composed of mostly indigestible silica and lignin.

In Australia, nut hulls are also used for abrasive media, feed stock, mulch, biochar and bioenergy. Nut shells need to be crushed or ground before they can be used as a litter for meat chickens.

Application in the Australian chicken meat industry

Nut hulls are not commonly used as meat chicken litter, either internationally or in Australia. Ground almond hulls have been used as dairy and poultry bedding in the USA and one trial has been conducted using almond hulls for chicken litter in Australia (personal communication). While the outcome of this trial was not successful, the interviewee believed it was due to management rather than the almond hull litter.

Peanut shells have been used by some growers in Australia. They report that it was a generally good material that didn’t need additional management. It has been used straight or blended with other materials such as wood products and rice hulls. It breaks down readily with tilling and growers found that moisture spreads more evenly through it and it is less prone to caking compared to straw.

More trials are needed to fully assess the potential of almond, peanut and other nut hulls as a litter for the Australian chicken meat industry.

Practical considerations of using nut hulls as chicken litter

Practical considerations that need to be assessed before using nut hulls as litter in the Australian chicken meat industry include:

Table 1: Practical considerations of using shredded paper as chicken litter

Practical considerations Shredded paper litter
Supply Commercially available in Australia? Yes
Operation Optimisation required for Australian conditions? Further research needed to optimise for Australian conditions.
Could it be available if demand was high?Yes
What might it cost if demand was high?Bulk purchasing could reduce cost significantly.
Management Additional management practises needed?Yes, managing caking
Regulation Are there regulatory or market barriers to using shredded paper as litter? Caking would require extra tillage to prevent non-compliance under the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme.

Content source: Review of fresh litter supply, management and spent litter utilisation, AgriFutures Australia final report 2018

Downloads and resources

Best practice litter management manual for Australian chicken meat farms (PDF, 3MB) | online version

Review of fresh litter supply, management and spent litter utilisation (PDF, 3.5MB)

Litter re-use: an evidence-based guide to re-using litter (PDF, 1.3MB)


Agra Marketing Group (2016) By-products—almond, Agra Trading LLC, California, United States of America. Available from

Aydin, C. (2003) Physical properties of almond nut and kernel, Journal of Food Engineering, 60(3), pp. 315-320. Available from

Dingke, Z. D. and Fielke, J. M. (2014) Some physical properties of Australian Nonpareil almonds related to bulk storage, International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 7(5), pp. 116-122. Available from