Best practice litter management manual for Australian meat chicken farms

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Material placed on the floor of meat chicken sheds at the start of a grow-out. Bedding materials in Australia are generally wood shavings, wood sawdust, rice hulls and cereal straw.

Other bedding materials used include peanut shells, grass straw and shredded paper products.

For the purposes of this guide, it refers to the material that does not contain excreta.

Litter from previous grow-outs may also be used at the start of a grow-out cycle and this is defined as reused litter.

Dense and compacted excreta layer on the surface of the litter. This manure cake typically develops with a high moisture content (approx. >35%) but may become dry and hard under the right drying conditions.
Excreta is a mixture of faeces and urine, excreted simultaneously by chickens. After being incorporated into the litter, it is generally referred to as manure.

The ability to reduce a substance into smaller pieces. Friable litter is therefore free flowing and not caked or sticky and falls apart.

Friable litter can be worked by the chickens as they scratch, dig and forage, which maintains aerobic conditions and accelerates moisture loss.

Mixture of bedding material and poultry manure. During the meat chicken grow-out, it serves several functions, including cushioning and insulation layer between the chickens and the floor; absorbing and releasing moisture; and providing environmental enrichment for meat chickens to display behaviour such as scratching and dust bathing.
A chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) grown for meat. Also referred to as a broiler in some Australian states.

Otherwise referred to as a broiler houses, poultry houses or barns, it is the buildings where meat chickens are reared from day-old to processing weight.

The buildings provide a safe shelter for the chickens and are designed and managed to ensure the chickens grow quickly and efficiently.

Moisture content (wet basis) is the mass of water in a sample divided by the mass of the moist sample:

Moisture content = mass of water (kg) / (mass of water + mass of oven dried soils (kg)

Dry basis moisture content is the mass of water in a sample divided by the mass of the dried sample:

Dry basis moisture content - mass of water (kg) / mass of oven dried solids (kg)

The process for removing birds from sheds for slaughter. It may otherwise be known as a thin-out, split, or catch-out.
Chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, quails, pigeons, pheasants, partridges, ostriches and emus reared for meat and eggs used for human consumption.

Litter that was used in a previous grow-out and is being used again for a subsequent grow-out.

Litter may be re-used many times. Sometimes the litter is treated before being used again (dried, pasteurised, composted, chemically amended, de-caked or screened).

Partial re-use is where new bedding is placed in the brood section of sheds, with re-used litter on the remainder of the floor.

A site (e.g. rural residence) at which potential amenity impacts may be experienced.
The process of reducing the number of microbes in meat chicken sheds or chickens’ drinking water to reduce the risk of illness, disease and food contamination.
Litter that has been removed from sheds and not re-used in subsequent growth cycles.
Litter that has a moisture content high enough to have detrimental effects with regards to disease, food safety, chicken comfort, production efficiency and/or environmental outcomes (e.g. odour and ammonia).
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