Author(s): Lien RJ, Hess JB, Conner DE, Wood CW, Shelby RA
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Abstract Broiler breeder pullets were reared on either peanut hulls or pine shavings to determine effects of litter type on growth performance and litter characteristics. Pullets were reared to 20 wk of age in rooms initially bedded with 8 cm of clean shavings or hulls. Heating and ventilation were standardized in all rooms. Restricted skip-a-day feeding was used to attain recommended growth curves. Water was continuously provided for ad libitum consumption. Litter and environmental variables were measured throughout rearing and 2 wk after pullets were removed from the litter materials. Feed consumption, BW, mortality, and uniformity at 20 wk were not affected by litter type; however, gizzard weights were decreased in pullets reared on hulls. Litter bulk density increased with use and was greater for shavings through 11 wk, but not thereafter. Particle size decreased with use in both litter types. Through 11 wk, there were more particles in the > 4 mm range and less in the < 1.7 mm range with hulls. Litter moisture increased with use but was not affected by litter type. Litter pH was greater in unused shavings, but during and after use was generally greater in hulls. With both litter types, litter and environmental ammonia levels increased to 11 wk then decreased; however, this effect was more pronounced for hulls. Bacteria populations were not affected by litter type; however, greater fungal populations were observed in shavings at 7 and 15 wk. Aflatoxins were detected in unused hulls but not shavings. Because aflatoxin levels decreased during use and Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus populations were not detected in samples collected during use, aflatoxins observed were presumed to have been formed prior to use. Peanut hulls performed similarly to pine shavings as a litter source for breeder pullets; however, the specific influence of the aflatoxins contained in this litter source on bird performance deserves further study.
This article was published in Poult Sci
and referenced in Journal of Fisheries & Livestock Production