Best practice litter management manual for Australian meat chicken farms

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  4. Key factors in bedding material selection
  5. Cost and availability

Cost and availability

Purchasing bedding materials is an appreciable cost in the production of meat chickens. A 2017 survey (Watson & Wiedemann, 2018) found that the cost of bedding ranged from $10 to $40 per cubic metre (Figure 3). In addition to the primary cost of bedding, the cost of transport can be a significant factor for meat chicken producers, which increases the cost in regions where there is a scarcity of supply. As supply of bedding tightens over time, the price will inevitably increase. 

Higher prices have been common for wood and straw supplies in many regions in recent years, in response to declining volumes of wood products (smaller timber industry and more/severe bushfires), and an increase in high value alternative uses for straw. For example, straw prices exceeded $500/t in some regions during severe droughts in 2019, and severe bushfires in 2019/20 limited supplies of wood-based bedding materials. These factors are driving the need for producers to consider alternative bedding sources, reduce bedding material volume requirements (e.g. litter reuse), or increase the price received for spent litter.

Graph showing price ranges for shavings, sawdust, rice hulls, straw, and wood pallets in dollars per cubic metre in 2018.
Figure 3. Costs of different bedding materials (landed on farm) (Watson & Wiedemann, 2018).
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