Dr. Rajesh Kumar Yadav*1, Dr. Navav Singh2, Dr. Ramesh Kumar3, Dr. Archana Fozdar4 and Dr. Mahima Dilawar5
Litter is a type of bedding that should be spread on the floor before a chick is brought inside. The birds find solace in it. A high-quality litter absorbs moisture, encourages drying, and acts as an insulator to keep temperatures consistent. It lessens the amount of feces that birds come into touch with manure. Additionally, it acts as a cushion of protection between the bird and the floor and insulates the chicks from the ground’s cooling effects. In dwellings, around six inches of trash are required in the winter. The birds are heated by the garbage in the cold. When handling it, it will feel rather warm if litter control is done well.
Any dry substance utilized on a chicken house floor, where droppings from the birds will fall, is called litter material. Any dry substance used on the floor of chicken houses, where chicken droppings fall, is another definition of litter material. Alternatively said, the litter is defined by (Casey et al. 2005) as a mixture of bedding material, excrement, feathers, spilled feed, and water. It prevents an unpleasant and unhygienic situation since it breaks down bacterially when it mixes with the droppings. Rice husk, wood shavings, sawdust, peanut hulls, sugarcane bagasse, straw, and other dry, inexpensive, absorbent organic materials are frequently used as bedding materials. Sometimes, sand is also used as bedding.
Because the bedding materials absorb moisture, less dangerous bacteria and ammonia are produced. The performance of the birds and the quality of the carcass can both be significantly impacted by the bedding materials employed. The welfare, health, performance, and carcass quality indices of broilers are all impacted by the quality of their litter (Dukic Stojcic et al., 2016). Bird performance and carcass quality can both be significantly impacted by the bedding materials utilized (Malone et al., 1983). According to (Mainey et al. 2007), the state of the litter has been identified as the primary cause of foot pad lesions in broiler chickens. In the case of poultry, litter management is crucial since poor quality litter can lead to several issues. NH3 is caused by improper handling of litter. Keeping the birds in poultry houses happy and healthy during the winter requires careful management of the litter. Winter is one of the seasons with extremely significant temperature swings, making it very difficult to sustain output and livability without taking special precautions. Winter management is particularly challenging and is referred to as a double-edged sword since it calls for an extremely precise balance between ventilation and climate control. Similar to this, making extremely thoughtful decisions is necessary to lower manufacturing costs while maintaining a healthy environment.
Understanding the economic viability of cost-involving management strategies takes a great deal of expertise. Only a small range of ambient temperatures can be used by poultry to control their body temperature. Environmental temperatures in the tropics are often higher than this range for the most of the year. Poultry performance is negatively impacted by low ambient temperatures, with meat-type birds being more vulnerable than egg-type birds. The poultry business has several obstacles to its expansion, one of which is temperature-related environmental issues. In particular, a cold climate can cause significant stress to birds, resulting in decreased performance. Unfavorable environmental temperatures have a significant impact on broiler chicken production performance and can lead to the incorrect expression of genetic potential in birds. The management of poultry throughout the winter is a major problem for poultry farmers, as climate fluctuation is currently a major danger to the poultry business, particularly for marginal poultry farmers in open-house systems. To improve poultry output in the winter, take into account the following considerations.
The following are some crucial factors to take into account for efficient wintertime litter management:
1 .Control of Moisture: Rain, snow, and condensation throughout the winter months can raise the moisture content of chicken houses. Moisture must be closely monitored and controlled to avoid soggy and dirty litter, which can promote the growth of germs and the emission of ammonia. Throughout the year, one of the most crucial—if not the most crucial—parameters for managing litter is litter moisture. In order to lower ammonia generation, bacterial development, and litter caking, proper litter moisture is essential. The end effect is a setting that is better for preserving the health of the birds and their paws. In the chilly winter months, when reduced ventilation rates are needed to preserve, maintaining low litter wetness is even more important. Moisture removal from chicken litter: Moisture can only be taken out of poultry litter by evaporating it into the air and then venturing the air out of the poultry house, which calls for dry air and heat. Heat: Water evaporating from litter requires a warm temperature. Litter that is colder than warm will not dry up as quickly. Additionally, the poultry house’s air has to be warm. Dry air: Compared to warm air, cold air cannot store as much water. For the air to be able to absorb the moisture that is evaporating from the litter, the relative humidity must be kept below 70%.
2. Bedding Material: Pick a bedding type that offers sufficient absorbency and insulation. Straw, wood shavings, and rice hulls are a few materials that may be used to keep the birds happy and dry. This process will happen on its own if the trash is maintained warm and in excellent shape (not compacted or finely ground).
3. Ventilation: In order to regulate humidity levels and avoid moisture buildup in the poultry house, proper ventilation is essential. Systems for ventilation should be adjusted to keep the best possible air quality and avoid too much dampness. Make little use of ventilation. While the litter is purging, minimum ventilation should be used to eliminate moisture and ammonia.
4. Cleaning Frequency: To get rid of soggy and dirty bedding, clean the litter more frequently in the winter. Frequent cleaning aids in preventing ammonia and dangerous bacteria buildup.
5. Insulation: To keep the poultry house at a constant temperature and lower the chance of condensation, properly insulate it. This reduces the possibility of respiratory problems in birds and helps keep the litter dry.
6. Draft Prevention: Seal any drafts in the poultry house to maintain a comfortable temperature and prevent cold spots that can lead to wet litter.
7. Monitoring: Keep an eye on the litter’s condition to make sure the birds may continue to find it dry and cozy. Deal with any difficulties as soon as possible to keep the flock healthy.
8. Thickness of litter: During the winter, the thickness of the litter should be at least 6 inches. When handling it, it will feel rather warm if litter control is done well.
9. Raking intervals: There should be frequent stirring of the litter which is technically called as raking. Raking should be done on intervals as at least 2 times in a week in winter season.
10. Replaced bedding material: Frequent stirring is recommended, and if the litter gets wet, fresh bedding should be added right away. Eliminate clumped trash right away. By weight, caked litter contains 35–60% moisture. It’s crucial to remove or break up the cake as quickly as possible since the litter bed behind the caked surface cannot dry out. De-caking litter as soon as it’s caught helps the remaining litter begin to dry out and removes a lot of water from the house.
Poultry producers can efficiently control trash throughout the winter months and give their birds a pleasant and healthy habitat by putting these techniques into practice. Keeping the birds in poultry houses happy and healthy during the winter requires careful management of the litter. These are some crucial factors to take into account for efficient wintertime litter control.