Suitability of litter amendments for the Australian chicken meat industry

University of New England

  • Project code: PRJ-011119

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, July 2, 2018

  • Project completion date: Saturday, June 15, 2019

  • National Priority: CME-Priority 4-Ensuring food safety of Australian chicken meat


Ammonia is the biggest air quality concern in poultry houses because it is detrimental to bird health and performance. Litter amendments are used overseas, particularly in the United States, to decrease ammonia production. The reported benefits of using litter amendments are several fold – they reduce respiratory infections and eye damage associated with ammonia exposure, odour, and production costs by decreasing the requirement for ventilation. Certain amendments are also known to inactivate Salmonella and Campylobacter. As industry is increasingly being asked to farm sustainably and reduce antibiotic use, litter amendments have the potential to reduce health challenges, improve the in-shed environment, extend litter lifespan, and increase its suitability for re-use.
For the Australian poultry industry to consider using litter amendments, it is important to understand how they are applied and their expected impact on ammonia production and the survival of microbes (viruses, bacteria and coccidia) impacting Australian industry. This project will assess these factors systemically both in the lab and in birds on litter. Through a combination of a detailed review, industry consultation and experimental work the study will provide detailed, impartial assessment of the potential benefits of amendment use and guidelines for its effective implementation. Findings from this work will have implications for bird health, farm profitability, sustainability and biosecurity.


Chicken Meat

Research Organisation

University of New England

Objective Summary

This research will address important questions relating to the use of litter amendments by the Australian poultry industry. The project will:
1. review the range of amendments available, their correct usage, effects and mode of action;
2. undertake an industry consultation to define projected industry litter needs, litter management practices and relevant cost-benefit associations;
3. determine which litter amendments impact microbe growth and ammonia production;
4. determine which key pathogens are susceptible to inactivation by litter amendments;
5. determine the levels of amendment necessary for the desired antimicrobial and anti-ammonia effects;
6. determine the duration of effectiveness of litter amendments; and
7. on the basis of the above, define best practice strategies for industry to applying litter amendments in meat chicken sheds to maximise their effectiveness (how, when and for what purposes).
Many of these questions have not been investigated by independent research. The major outcome from this work will therefore be evidence-based guidelines for the effective use of litter amendments under Australian conditions.