Causal factors of ‘wet litter’ in chicken-meat production

  • Published: 12 May 2016

  • Author(s): Moss, A.F, Selle, Peter H

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More than 90 years ago, Dann (1923) opined that ‘wet litter’ is a rather troublesome problem for most poultry-men. The problem of wet litter still persists in the poultry industry today, largely due to similar reasons. However, contemporary pressures on the chicken meat industry demand better litter management. Wet litter frequently results in the development of footpad lesions and poor growth performance. Importantly, it is gathering momentum as a welfare issue for both meat chickens and meat chicken breeder flocks.

As part of RIRDC Chicken Meat project PRJ-009184 the multidimensional causal factors of ‘wet litter’ in chicken meat production were reviewed and fifteen personnel from the chicken meat industry in Australia and England were surveyed to garner current industry opinion as to the causes and potential best practices to prevent wet litter. The respondents included seven practical nutritionists, three veterinarians, three academic nutritionists and two non-professional, experienced poultry-men.

The pivotal implication of the review was found to be that diligent supervision by management and staff of meat chicken grow-out sheds should largely overcome the problem of wet litter. The central point being that maintaining acceptable litter quality is largely dependent on prevention and monitoring.