Broiler Litter as a Feed or Fertilizer in Livestock Operations

By Deborah Martinez,2014-05-20 10:47
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The epidemic of Mad Cow Disease in Britain was caused by feeding meat and bone meals made from infected cattle to healthy cattle. So far, over 100 Britons

    This is an extract of a longer paper on use of poulty litter as a feed and as a fertilizer by a prominent university in the USA. The article puts forth the argument that there’s nothing scientifically wrong in feeding litter to cattle and there’s no harmful effect to the animals or to consumers. The

    writers feel that opposition to the practice is often based on perceptions rather than scientific fact. However, there’s no findings given on the

    profile of the fatty acids or the profile of the nutrients in the milk and meat of cows fed poultry litter. There’s also no comparison on the micro-

    nutrients in the meat and milk of cattle fed litter versus cattle that are free-ranging and grass fed.

    Animal scientists focus on raising healthy animals the fastest at the least costs.

    Broiler Litter as a Feed or Fertilizer in Livestock Operations

    Poultry and beef are competitors in the fresh-meat market. However, at the farm level, these two enterprises can be mutually beneficial, complementary,

    environmentally sound, and economically viable to individual producers.

    Poultry industry sources estimate there are approximately 5,000 poultry houses in the state, with broiler houses accounting for about 93 percent of the total. An additional 2,000 broiler houses are expected to be built in the state over the next several years.

    Each poultry house generates approximately 100 tons of poultry litter per year, for a total of 1 billion pounds annually for Mississippi. Most poultry houses use wood shavings or sawdust as bedding material. This material is usually replaced once a year. The mixture of manure, feed, feathers, and bedding material from these houses is commonly referred to as "poultry litter." Because of its physical properties, caged layer waste is used only as a fertilizer, but broiler litter can be used both as a fertilizer and as a feed for livestock. Since 93 percent of Mississippi's poultry litter comes from broiler houses, the designation "broiler litter" will be used in this publication.

Broiler Litter as Livestock Feed

    Although broiler litter can be used efficiently and effectively as a fertilizer, its greatest potential economic impact is as a feed source for beef animals. Good-

quality broiler litter is approximately equal to good-quality alfalfa hay, based on

    nutrient analysis. Broiler litter is not as palatable as other common feed sources,

    and cattle require a period of time to get adjusted to the broiler litter. To make

    broiler litter diets more palatable in order to increase consumption, corn or other

    feeds are added. Fontenot, in 1978, estimated that broiler litter as a feed is worth

    two to three times more than its value as a fertilizer for pastures. However, not all

    broiler litter currently produced is acceptable quality for use as animal feed; broiler

    litter unacceptable as feed should be used as fertilizer.

    Broiler litter substituted in high-grain diets resulted in a reduction in daily gains

    and a lower feed conversion ratio. Using a lower-energy-based diet, Cross and Jenny

    found gains of feedlot steers were similar between cattle fed diets containing corn

    silage with either 0, 10, or 30 percent broiler litter substituted for corn silage.

    Several other recent studies have demonstrated the potential use of broiler litter in

    livestock diets. In 1994 McCaskey et al. reported that beef steer gains were 2.53

    pounds per day on a concentrate diet as compared with 2.12 pounds per day on a

    diet of 50 percent broiler litter and 50 percent corn. Based on animal performance

    and current feed prices, a producer could afford to pay up to $123 per ton for the 50

    percent broiler litter-50 percent corn diet.

    Diets containing broiler litter can produce acceptable levels of performance by beef

    cattle. However, raw broiler litter needs to be processed to ensure its safety from

    potentially harmful pathogens. Processing can be achieved by moderate heat, either

    during the ensiling process or by deep stacking or pelleting the broiler litter.

And they are doing it everywhere, even in Vietnam!

Dried rice straw-chicken litter and urea-treated rice straw as main fodder

    resources for local cattle in dry season.

    a aab Tran Quoc Viet, Dao Duc Kien, Le Viet Ly, E.R Orskov

    a National Institute of Animal Husbandry, Chem, Tu liem, Hanoi-Vietnam. b Rowett Research Institute, Bucksburn, Aberdeen, Scotland, AB2- 9SB.

    Proceeding - Workshop on improved utilization of by-products for animal feeding in

    Vietnam - NUFU project 3/2001

Read the full article at :

This is an article by an Animal Welfare NGO called Food Animal

    Concerns Trust or FACT. The website is:

    What's For Dinner? If You're a Cow

    Every year, millions of cattle, crowded into filthy and disease-ridden feedlots, are intentionally fed manure as part of their already unnatural diet of corn and antibiotics. It goes without saying that this is a repulsive practice, but it is also risky in terms of animal and human health. Many species of farm animals are fed manure, but it is most common in cattle. Chicken manure is usually used and is mixed in with grain. There are no statistics available as to how common the practice actually is, but we do know it occurs in over half the states in the U.S. Because chicken litter is bulky and expensive to transport, this practice is more likely to occur in regions where both cattle and chickens are raised.

    Obviously feeding manure to farm animals can spread disease. Pathogens such as E. Coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Campylobacter can proliferate in this way. If the manure is properly composted, this problem can be reduced. However, proper composting requires that the piles are well mixed and temperatures within the compost piles reach at least 160 degrees. On busy farms adequate monitoring of compost piles is unlikely.

    In addition to bacterial pathogens, manure may also contain pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics, and even broken glass and sharp metal objects. All of these are a threat to animal health. For instance, sheep are sensitive to low levels of copper, and manure containing this metal can be fatal when ingested by this species.

    Feed containing manure with antibiotic residues presents a risk to both the animals and consumers. Antibiotics are routinely fed to poultry to promote growth and prevent disease. These antibiotics end up in their manure and are passed on to other farm animals when the manure is used for feed. Ingestion of antibiotics in this way poses many risks including that of allergic reactions. This sort of risk is recognized when it comes to consumers, but not farm animals. Because of the risk to consumers, most states require that feed containing animal manure be withdrawn 15 days before the animals are slaughtered or milked.

    Another problem is the potential for the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria are difficult, or even impossible, to treat in animals and in consumers that eat the meat, milk or eggs from these animals.

    Feeding manure to cattle could also lead to the spread of Mad Cow disease. The epidemic of Mad Cow Disease in Britain was caused by feeding meat and bone meals made from infected cattle to healthy cattle. So far, over 100 Britons have died from the human form of this disease because they ate the resulting beef. There is no cure for this disease and little is

    understood about it. There are many ways it could be transmitted. For example, blood in cattle feed and in human transfusions is suspect. Prions, the proteins that carry this disease, are almost impossible to destroy, so we must consider the feeding of manure a hazardous practice too. The FDA does not currently regulate the use of animal manure in livestock feed. That responsibility has been left to the states, which have generally allowed the practice to continue with few restrictions.

    FACT is opposed to the feeding of animal manure to other animals. Clearly, all of the many problems cited above provide sufficient reason for the FDA to prohibit the use of animal manure in livestock feed. We will be urging the FDA to take action on this issue, and we feel encouraged to do so because FDA is currently considering a ban on poultry litter in animal feed because, in part, such litter contains manure.

What Can You Do to Help Abolish

    This Inhumane Practice?

    Purchase meat, poultry or eggs raised on pasture (look for terms such as grass-fed, pasture-raised or free-range) without the use of antibiotics or hormones. Organic meats, poultry and eggs are also a good option. Write to:

    Dr. Steven Sundlof, Director

    Center for Veterinary Medicine

    Food and Drug Administration

    7519 Standish Place, HF

    Rockville, MD 20855

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