Best practice litter management manual for Australian meat chicken farms

  1. Home
  2. Docs
  3. Best practice litter management manual for Australian meat chicken farms
  4. Litter pests and diseases
  5. Pest management guide

Pest management guide

Why important: Litter pests can have a significant economic impact on meat chicken production, including, but not limited to, infrastructure damage, spread of disease vectors, reduced FCR and the generation of skin legions. Darkling beetles are a specific concern, particularly when multi-use litter practices are adopted. These pests can be difficult to control if an infestation occurs. An integrated pest management approach is needed to control them.

The use of certain insecticides can affect organic certification for the meat chicken farm and any end uses of litter.

Outcome: Pests are managed in sheds and spent litter via an integrated pest management strategy.

Performance measures: Prevalence of pests in meat chicken sheds and spent litter is minimised.

Manage pests through a program of inspection, good housekeeping and treatment.

In Western Australia, stable fly is a declared pest under biosecurity legislation, and additional pest management measures may be required in some parts of the state.

Best management actions:

• Clean up feed spills immediately as these will supply a food source for darkling beetles and other pests.
• Litter pests can be controlled using suitable insecticides (taking chicken health and spent litter management requirements into consideration).
• If multi-batch litter practices are used, litter may need to be removed from sheds and replaced, to interrupt the pests’ breeding cycles. Approved insecticides can be used to treat infested litter prior to spreading.
• Avoid stockpiling spent litter within 500 m of meat chicken production sheds, as it can offer a breeding site for manure beetles and other pests. It also poses biosecurity risks.

Darkling beetles
• Provide cement-based or cement-stabilised floors, as these reduce the potential for carryover of darkling beetle larvae between growth cycles.
• Repair floors damaged by beetles between growth cycles by re-compacting damaged areas.
• Keep litter dry and friable, as darkling beetles thrive in wetter litter. This includes repairing water leaks and removing wet litter from sheds. This also reduces the incidence of fly breeding.
• Use an integrated pest management approach to control litter beetles. This includes good housekeeping in the first instance, the use of chemicals and the regular inspection and resealing of shed floors.
• When using chemicals to control litter beetles, rotate the type based on active ingredients to avoid pesticide resistance.
• Only apply residual insecticides when sheds are empty and follow manufacturer specifications for withholding periods.
• Seal sheds following clean-out and treatment to minimise re-infestation between growth cycles.
• Where multi-use litter is practiced, ensure effective pasteurisation (see Section 10) between growth cycles. This may require the outside of the windrow/pile being incorporated and subjected to the pasteurisation process.

Stable fly
• Check and adhere to local regulations regarding spent litter storage and land application in WA, as it is a declared pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007.
• In WA, spent litter should be stockpiled for less than three days before covering with plastic to avoid it becoming wet. Alternatively, spent litter should be removed immediately from farm and used as a blend for compost, or sprayed with insecticide to prevent fly development.

Monitoring and recording
• Regularly monitor pest numbers and compare with previous checks. Act to minimise pest populations if they have increased.

Was this article helpful to you? Yes No

How can we help?