How reused litter material reduced salmonella in chickens

How reused litter material reduced salmonella in chickens

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Advantages of reused litter in chicken breeding?

The reuse of bedding material in breeding chickens not only saves costs, it can also prevent the growth of pathogens such as Salmonella. This finding is important because the consumption of chickens is increasing all over the world.

A study involving the University of Georgia found that reusing bedding material in chicken farming helps to reduce pathogen growth. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of Environmental Quality".

Doubts about reuse of bedding material

Broilers require millions of tons of litter or bedding material to raise them. There have been health and safety concerns about reusing this material. The results of the new investigation dispel previous doubts.

Samples of reused litter were analyzed

The team collected samples of reused poultry litter from the University of Georgia Poultry Research Center. This litter was used to raise three flocks of broilers under conditions prevailing in broiler farms. Each sample represented a unique bedding environment.

Samples were contaminated with Salmonella

The properties of the bedding samples were analyzed in the laboratory. The researchers added salmonella to each sample. The samples were then examined for the content of Salmonella, other bacteria and physical properties. Most samples developed predictable microbiomes within two weeks of adding Salmonella. Certain microbes, such as Nocardiopsis bacteria, appeared to reduce Salmonella growth.

Used poultry litter can hinder the growth of salmonella

The new study shows that the use of re-used bedding material in rearing poultry can prevent the growth of pathogens such as Salmonella. So far, poultry farmers have assumed that the reuse of bedding material has a negative impact on food safety. The results of the current research work show exactly the opposite, the researchers report. There are bacteria in used poultry litter that can hinder the growth of salmonella.

Moisture and ammonia content were examined

"It could be worth investing the time and resources to characterize the bacteria in reused bedding," says study author Adelumola Oladeinde of the U.S. National Poultry Research Center in a press release. These bacteria could be used to develop useful microbes for better gut health in chickens, the expert adds. The study also examined bedding properties such as moisture and ammonia content. These properties can dramatically affect the litter microbiome (the mixture of bacteria, fungi and viruses in the litter).

Why is litter important for chicken health?

The results of the study provide new information about the relationship between the physical environment of bedding and its microbiome. Techniques that take these two factors into account can help reduce salmonella in chickens, the researchers report. Litter plays a big role in determining the health of broilers. After a broiler reaches a farm, it usually spends a lot of time feeding on bedding for the next few weeks.

Chicks eat litter

In fact, the chicks start eating litter before they eat or drink from feed troughs. The microbiome in the litter is likely to become the first inhabitant in the chickens' intestines, the researchers suspect. These first microbes play an important key role in determining gut health. It is therefore crucial to determine what a useful litter microbiome looks like, ”explains study author Adelumola Oladeinde.

Why did the re-used litter reduce salmonella?

Some types of Nocardiopsis bacteria found in reused litter are known to produce natural antibiotics and toxins. These compounds could keep the salmonella level in the scattering samples low, the researchers explain.

What impact does downtime have?

A key aspect of litter reuse is the time until reuse. This waiting time is called litter downtime. A shorter downtime means that breeders can raise more animals during the year. So far, however, little was known about how downtime affects the litter microbiome.

Are two weeks of downtime sufficient?

The results of the study show that an examination of the concentration of certain bacteria could help to determine whether there was sufficient downtime. This could be of great help to farmers and breeders. The investigation showed that recycled litter showed a microbiome after two weeks of downtime, which was unfavorable for Salmonella.

More research is needed

According to the researchers, the experiments carried out should be repeated in the future with litter from various sources. More strains of Salmonella should also be tested. Such studies will provide important information on the underlying mechanisms of litter reuse and salmonella reduction. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Maite Ghazaleh Bucher, Benjamin Zwirzitz, Adelumola Oladeinde, Kimberly Cook, Caroline Plymel et al .: Reused poultry litter microbiome with competitive exclusion potential against Salmonella Heidelberg, in Journal of Environmental Quality (published April 14, 2020), Journal of Environmental Quality
  • Adityarup "Rup" Chakravorty: Reusing chicken litter shows benefits, American Society of Agronomy (Published Jun 8, 2020), American Society of Agronomy

Video: Farms of the Future (February 2023).