FIVE ALTERNATIVE LITTER MATERIALS IN POULTRY

Necessity they say is a mother of invention. The Corona virus pandemic has had its impact on poultry production in Ghana; from low patronage of poultry products to shortage of necessary poultry product amidst the lock-down period.

In this write up, we will be shedding light on some other materials you can use as bedding material for your birds.

In animal production, the term LITTER simply means bedding or covering material. In Ghana, Wood shavings (Saw dust) are the commonly used litter material to cover the floor of a deep-litter Penn and also used as a receiving material in cage system,

A good litter material should be highly absorbent. (I.e. ability to absorb water and other moisture) have low thermal conductivity or poor heat conductor, be free of toxins, mycotoxins or contaminants like metals and pesticides. It should be non-toxic or non-poisonous to birds, have a short drying time and be able to decompose fast or reused as organic manure. Above all it should be relatively INEXPENSIVE and READILY AVAILABLE.

During the lockdown period, the major challenge that most farmers using the deep-litter system faced was the scarcity or unavailability of wood shavings; mainly because saw mill companies were not working within the period. Also in rural area some farmers don’t have access to sufficient wood shaving while some are unable to get. Mostly, those in semi-urban or remote areas where there are no wood milling industries are faced with either of the aforementioned.

If getting wood shavings is your challenge, the under listed are other alternatives that can be used as litter materials.

 

Sand

Sand is not a new litter material in poultry production but care must be taken over particle size when being used. It is a good bedding material even though it may be slightly moist, have Lower temperature and could be expensive than other traditional bedding materials depending on which part of the country you are.

Personally I prefer sand from sea shore i.e. Sea sand because such sand are sterile with the salty water from the sea but always ensure the sand is dry before use. Its use has generated renewed interest arousing some studies in its use comparing flocks raised on sand and flocks raised on wood shavings.

One study showed that Cocks kept on sand were significantly heavier with no difference noted among Hen. There was no difference between the sand raised and shavings raised flocks in terms of feed conversion or mortality and while initially, the moisture content of the sand litter was higher, as time passed this difference disappeared. Additionally, there was no difference in ammonia levels.

 

The use of sand as poultry litter can be an excellent substitute for wood shavings and but there are factors that should always be kept in mind:

 

  • The sand should be brought to the right temperature before chicks are placed;
  • The size of sand particles should be given consideration so as not cause problems for the machines that remove the gizzard;
  • As sand is denser than shavings or hulls, the level of litter will rise more slowly as it is topped up for each flock. It will also last for much longer in the poultry shed;
  • Cleaning sand can be much faster and disinfection more efficient, as sand is an inert material. It can be flame disinfected, removing organic material in one go, without the risk of the litter igniting;
  • Depending on your location, the cost of sand can be much higher than more traditional litters, but the advantages that it offers can outweigh this cost.

 

 

Rice Husk

You don’t see farmers using this much but it’s a great material for bedding that we should bring to your attention.

Rice husk can be easily found in the Northern, Savannah, Oti and Volta region of Ghana. They’re often discarded by rice farmers but very useful in poultry.

Rice Husk are typically free from excessive dust and their size, thermal conductivity and drying rate make them another good choice for bedding.

 

Aside been cheap, locally available and providing extra hunts to your scratch-searching chickens, ducks etc. Rice Husks has the following advantages:

 

  • Does not absorbs water

 

While clumps of Rice Husks can retain water in large quantities, overall the material has no capacity to retain water which means most liquids quickly sink to the bottom. If you have a well-drained floor (or using Rice Husks over a think weed cloth over a metal mesh), the bedding will stay mostly dry. This is especially great with ducks and ducklings as they are messy with their water.

Because it doesn’t retain moisture, it doesn’t grow mould or any other bacteria like wet shavings.

  • Easily Managed

 

Due to its particle size, Rice husk are easy to spread, mix level, and remove. This means NO CAKING in your Penn unlike what we see with our usual wood shaving.

 

  • Produces Useful Dust

 

Dust from bedding can be a problem for Poultry that’s why it’s not advisable to use sawdust as bedding. Diseases like infectious Coryza and CRD has been traced to rise of excessive dust in the Penn

Rice Husk dust has proven to be extremely useful when using the deep litter system. Any poop falling on the bedding gets immediately covered in a thin layer of dust and hulls, making it non-sticky and it dries much faster. Placed at least 3 inched thick, farmer don’t bother removing any bedding or poop anywhere for a longer time compared to Wood shaving.

 

  • Has very minimal or no odour

 

Wood shavings, have a very strong scent which together with urine can be very intense and offensive to both fowl and people. Rice Husks have no smell at all therefore reduces the rise of ammonia in the penn. The only smell would be from the feed.

This is mostly because the poop (both on the bedding and under the roost) dries up extremely fast thanks to the Rice Husks.

Dry Grass Chippings

Well dried Grass chipping has been one of the best choices of bedding for my laying nest.

Just as it would do to your chicken eggs; it provides a secured foundation for chickens’ legs and feet, a good way to gather droppings quickly and the ability to easily clean your birds’ housing

If they’re locally available, grass clippings are one viable coop bedding option, but they have a few disadvantages. Clippings tend to retain moisture and break down quickly. They also dry, shrink and smell if not well managed.

Grass chippings are easy to remove. So no extra stress on your farmhand on a cleaning day.

If you have enough dried grass chippings or would prefer to use it be sure they’re not sourced from a garden/ yard that was sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or other chemicals. Your Chickens may pick at chipping and get be poisoned.

Gather the grass yourself. Be sure it’s free from dirt, disinfect and dry in the sun for at least 14 days before use

 

Dried Leaves

Shredded dried leaves are excellent bedding for your poultry penn. Dried leave from mango, pear, Neem, basil and plantain used as litter have been found to be medicinal as well. In the Northern region where Baobab and dried oak leaves are common, they’re perfect substitutes for your bedding as they don’t mat together.

In other countries where Hemp is common and legal, its bedding is one of the best types of bedding available for Poultry farmers, or any animal owner for that matter. Essentially, hemp bedding is made from the stalk of the cannabis plant known as the hurd. Hemp bedding is an odourless, absorbent and organic product that will not only help keep your coop stay cleaner for longer, but will also act as a natural pesticide, which will keep all sorts of creepy crawlies out of your coop.

Leaves are inexpensive and widely available each fall.

To avoid a stinky matted mess when using shredded leaves, be sure it is well dried before placing in your penn.

 

Maize or Corn cobs

Do you remember in the village when you use to crush Corn in bags with a stick so you can get the grains off?

The soft crushed cobs that are sieved and discarded are very important material you can use in your penn.

Crushed Corn cob bedding is ideal for your poultry bedding because it’s heavier and stays longer in the penn. It is easily replaced and clumps easily removed when soiled.

Aside being a good replacement, it could supplement their daily feed intake as uneaten foods can be sifted out. Corn cob is simply longer lasting, more economical bedding if readily available in your area.

 

  • Non-Toxic & Biodegradable
  • Odourless & Dust-Free
  • Highly Absorbent
  • Free of Aromatic Oils
  • Easy Clean-Up

 

 

How often should I change the animal bedding?

Generally speaking bedding should be changed whenever there is a stiff smell or you smell a build-up of bad odours or if there are any obvious signs of mess. This being said, changing your bedding regularly does not cause any harm to your chickens, but leaving your chickens in a messy coop often results in a number of possible problems. So, in short, make sure you clean your coop when there is cause to do so. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to disinfect your coop with a natural cleaner, such as apple cider vinegar.

The industry will continue looking for alternative litters, but cost and availability will be the ultimate deciding factors in whether they are adopted. Inevitably, some bedding materials should be developed local sourced, but what is important is that, once a material has been identified, user are made fully aware of just what exactly the local industry has and how it came be used without negative implications. As you can see, you get what you pay for with chicken bedding and all the options outlined in this section will suit your poultry penn in different ways.

We hope that your choice to find the best bedding for you has been made a little easier. Thank you for reading

If you have any comments, queries or questions please don’t forget to give us a review on the blog section on our website.

 

6 IMPORTANT PARAMETERS EVERY FARMER SHOULD BE ABLE TO CALCULATE

Over the last few months, We’ve seen so many questions directly thrown at us or on Whats-app groups by farmers requesting to know how certain parameters are calculated for.
We’ve gathered this pieces to help you answer those questions by yourself.

To thrive in this poultry business you need knowledge, Experience and a lot of Passion.
It always important to make effort to know how calculate these on your own.

Poultry farming is not like any other business where you take some advice use same and it automatically works.
Here, You take clues from other people but manage things on your own. THERE IS NO COPY and PASTE IN POULTRY
Tailor all the information you gather from other farmers into your own.
The fact that Farmer A said his birds consumed × amount of Feed at age A does not mean your birds will consume same. Wɔfa (Uncle), MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!

First let’s take:

1. Average daily feed consumption per bird:

This is the amount of feed consumed by each bird per day. Before you attempt answering this question be sure you have your  BREED MANAGEMENT MANUAL. It is very important as it guides you on the required consumption rate at each stage.

The Daily Feed Consumption is derived by first knowing total quantity of feed consumed ( in kilograms preferably)
Yes! You need to know the quantity of feed you are throwing into the Feeders per day.
This is divided by the current total population of birds that day. You can then Multiply this by 1000 to get the quantity of feed consumed per bird in grams.

Example, If Fiidar farms feeds 2 bags of 50 kg feed to his 1000 layers per day; To get daily feed consumption per bird:
First find the total amount of feed per day (Number of bags x Weight of each feed bag)

That is *2 × 50 kg =100 kg.*

Feed consumption per bird : (Total amount of feed / 1000)

i.e 100/1000 = 0.10 kg Morta

To convert this to grams we simply multiply by 1000

i.e. 0.10 × 1000=100g /bird/per day

This means each bird consumed 100 grams of feed per day.

2. Mortality rate in Percentage(%):

Mortality rate is the percentage of birds that have been lost since receipt of DOC’s. This is calculated by adding up the cumulative number of dead bird so far, divided by total number of chicks/birds stocked in the poultry penn then multiplied by 100.
It is important for every farmer to get a record sheet upon receipt of DOC’s.
A good record sheet should have a sections for deaths that happen in the rearing. Always count your DOC’s before placing them in the housing.

Example, If Fiidar Farms placed 5000 DOC’s in their brooder house but have lost 73 after 16 weeks , What is the mortality rate ?

the Mortality rate % is (Number of dead birds / Total number of DOC’s placed x 100)

I.e MR = 73 ÷ 5000 ×100 = 1.46 %

This mean Fiidar Farms lost 1.46% of their total stock.

3. Live-ability:

Just as the name suggests, this is the percentage of birds that have survived this far out of the originally stocked population.
It is calculated by subtracting the mortality rate from 100% where 100% represents the total number of DOC’s that arrived at the farm.
(Live-ability=100 %-mortality %)

Example, In Fiidar Farm’s case above,;

Liveability = 100 %-1.46 %= 98.54%

4. Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) :

FCR is an important index in livestock production especially when you are handling meat breeds. FCR is the ratio of efficiency at which the bird’s body converts consumed feed in to weight gain.

This is determined by dividing total feed consumed by the weight gained over same period. It is particularly important in broilers and growers.

Example Fiidar farms purchased some Cobb broilers for Christmas, The total feed consumed by each bird in week 4 is 800 grams and the weight gained per bird in that week is 490 grams. Calculate the FCR.

FCR = (Total feed consumed x weight gain)

I.e 800 /490 = 1.63

This mean The Feed conversion Rate for week 4 is 1.63. Note that the lower the FCR, the better.
Lower FCR means the birds consumed little feed to gain higher weight while on the other hand higher FCR means more feed consumed with little weight gain.
For profitability in poultry production, a more efficient feeding, with quality feed that gives lower FCR is required. keep following us we will talk more on this Subject.

5. Hen Day Egg Production (Laying rate):

In layer farming the Hen day production rate is very important. This is also known as Laying rate or rate of lay. It is a measure of the total number of eggs produced by a flock per day or in a period in percentage.
In our part of the world where production cost is relatively higher than other countries, Rate of lay should be a handy statistic for every farmer to be able to determine whether he/she is making profit, breaking even or losing.

Example, If 3500 Hy-line brown in Fiidar farms produces 3159 eggs in a day, What is the laying rate( Hen Day production) for that day

Laying rate = (Number of eggs produced ÷ Number of birds in flock ×100%)

I.e (3159 ÷ 3500) × 100 = 90.26% (Not bad huh!)

This mean Fiidar farms is getting 90.26 % production from their Hy-line layers. Note the higher this rate the better.

6. Space Requirement 

All poultry requires a standard amount of space in their cage. This requirement changes with time as the birds grow. It is always important to know the number of birds your Penn can accommodate to avoid overcrowding.
Space requirement for poultry varies and largely depends on the breed and system used. This is mostly embedded in your breed management guide but considering arrangement of feeders and drinkers and other stuff in the Penn;

– Layers/Cocks in deep litter require minimum 2.0 Square feet per Bird.
– Broiler in deep litter require minimum 2.2 square feet per bird.

Space requirement is calculated by Multiplying the Length and breadth of your Penn; divided by the Required minimum space per bird

Example: Fiidar Farms has a 50 × 25 feet Penn and intends to keep 1000 layers on deep litter.
Calculate whether the space is appropriate for the number of birds.

Space Required for layers = (Length x Breath / 2)
i.e. (50 × 25) / 2 = 625

This means Fiidar Farms cannot keep 1000 layers in a 50 × 25 ft Penn. It can only keep 625 layers . They would have to make their Penn a storey or build another Penn of same size to accommodate 1250 birds.
Another trick is to multiply the Required minimum space per bird by the Number of birds you intend to keep
This gives you the total required area in Square feet

i.e. 2 x 1000 = 2000 sq.ft.
Now divide this by the proposed length of the structure to determine the breath and vice versa.

i.e. 2000 / 50 ft = 40 ft

This means 50 ft x 40 ft Penn is enough to accommodate 1000 layers on deep litter System

WATER IN POULTRY PRODUCTION

Water is a very critical component for Poultry farming success. It influences birds’ performance and growth. While Shortage of water can have a negative impact on feed conversion; wasted water also might become a breeding ground for harmful pathogens and fungus therefore water management also plays a big role in bio-security.

Water is one of the most important components of nutrition in poultry production. The fact is Animals can live longer without food than without water. If you have been overlooking the importance of water in your farm; SHAME ON YOU!

As the old Akan saying goes:Dea ɔma nsuo no, ɔma nkwa (he who gives water, gives life).
The benefit of water cannot be underrated. Eg. In a layer production , shortage of water for just some few hours can result in reduced eggs production,. whiles it can cause stunt growth in Broiler farming. It is proven that chickens would normally drink water twice as much as feed therefore clean water should be available at all times.

A good watering system should :

1. Ensure adequate supply
2. Be Efficient
3. Manage water quality and temperature
4. Be easily Monitored and controlled
5. Have Easy access to cleaning and disinfecting

Always think outside the box when choosing a drinking system for your farm. Choose a filter system that would purify your water for consumption.
You Could achieve good water management status by investing in automatic waterers for your farm. This system ensure constant supply of water to your birds thereby reducing the risk of getting your flock locked up in any dehydration mess.

If you have manual drinkers; BE VIGILANT! Check up on the bird drinker at least trice a day or as many as possible to make sure that they have access to water always. Get enough drinkers that would sustain them the whole day.
A 10 litre manual drinker on the Ghanaian market can hydrate upto about 20 grow out layers or 18 broilers while an automatic drinker can do 50 layers and 45 broilers. For nipple drinking system use 10 birds to each nipple.

Yes not all birds will drink at the same time therefore you could give some allowance when buying your drinkers but never use more than 35 birds per drinker.

Importance of water in Poultry production.

For Digestion

• Water softens feed and carries it through the digestive tract.
• As a component of blood (90% of blood content), water carries nutrients from the digestive tract to cells and carries away waste products.
• Eliminates body waste- Chickens discharges urine and faeces at the same. Water help make it easily for this to be released.

For metabolism

• Water also helps cool the bird through evaporation. (Birds do not have sweat glands, so their heat loss occurs in the air sacs and lungs through rapid respiration.)

Contains Essential nutrients

• Water is by far the single most essential nutrient. A chick is composed of about 80% water. Though this percentage decreases as a bird gets older, the need for water remains.

The quantity requirement of water is estimated at 1.5 – 2 x as much as feed because there are several factors that affect the amount of water a bird needs. Poultry water consumption is dependent on factors including:

• Age

• Food consumption (i.e. reduced food intake may lead to reduced water intake and vice versa)

• Temperature of water

• Water Quality

• Humidity

• Type of drinkers used

• Drinker height

• Water pressure etc.

As i said earlier, rule of thumb : – Poultry consume twice as much water as feed… So don’t underestimate the power of WATER.

ARE YOUR BIRDS WELL HYDRATED TODAY ?

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RAISE A BROILER IN GHANA ?

Christmas is fast approaching and many of us here would like to grow some broilers for sale but; How much would it cost you to rear a broiler to table size? I guess you didn’t take that into consideration

Worry not ! That’s why we at Poultinn & More have decided to help you calculate the amount of money required to raise a broiler from day 1 to table size (9 weeks)

 

Pick up your note pad; Let’s be your math teacher for the next few minutes

To calculate our cost accurately, we must take into consideration the following:

1. Cost of chicks
2. Cost of feed/Kg
3. Cost of Utility ( water, electricity, Gas)
4. Cost of vaccines/medication and supplements
5. Cost of labor & Miscellaneous like advertisement, transport etc

Kindly take note of our assumptions.

Target weight – 2 -2.5 kg
Cost feed -Starter – 120 gh
– Finisher – 118 gh
Vaccine – Gumboro (1000 dose) – 55 gh
– Newcastle (1000 dose) – 30 gh

[ ] Cost of broiler chicks

a. Day old broiler chick should cost between 6 – 6.2 gh on the market. For the purposes of our calculate we would use 6 gh; the cost of imported broiler chick at #Poultinn.

[ ] Cost of feed.
To achieve 2.0 – 2.5 kg live weight a broiler would consume about 6.2 kg of feed for 9 weeks.
A broiler would consumed about 1.7 kg of 50 kg commercial feed from Day 1 to 4 weeks and 4.47 kg of feed from 5- 9 weeks.

Assumed price of Broiler starter – 120 gh
Therefore 1.7 kg Day 1 – 4 weeks = 4.08 gh

Broiler Finisher – 118 gh
Therefore 4.47 kg Week 5 -9 = 10.5 gh

Total cost of feeding : 4.08 + 10.5 = 14.58 gh

[ ] Cost of Utilities

Water

Currently a litre of water from Ghana water Company limited Domestic metered line cost 0.298 gh.

It is estimated that water consumption for a broiler from Day old to 4 weeks is 0.463 litres and 1.7 litres for week 5 to 9 weeks

Therefore

Consumption 1 – 4 weeks: 0.463 × 0.298 = 0.138 gh

Consumption 5 -9 week: 1.7 × 0.298 = 0.507 gh

Total cost of Water consumed per bird :0.138 + 0.507 = 0.645 gh

NB: Increase in temperature will affect water intake, as the birds will consume more water to cool themselves. The above gives an estimate guide of water consumption per broiler house at room temperature 27-30°c in Ghana.

Electricity

Approximately provide 18 hours/per of light to a broiler for Day 1 to 4 weeks and 16 hours of light from 5 – 9 weeks

A KW/H of electricity as at March 2019 from the Electricity company of Ghana cost 0.05 Dollars that’s 0.27 gh per Kw/h. For 100 broiler a 13-15 watts bulb would be okay. therefore each broiler would need about 0.15 watts[ 0.000015 Kw]

Electricity consumption for each broiler
Day 1 – 4 week @ 18 hour of light : (0.00015 × 18)× 28 = 0.0756 kw/h
ie. 0.0756 × 0.27 = 0.02 gh

5 – 7 weeks @ 16 hours of light : ( 0.00015 × 16)× 42 = 0.10 Kw/h
i.e. 0.10 × 0.27 = 0.027 gh

Total electricity cost for each broiler : 0.02 + 0.027 = 0.047 gh

Total Utility cost per bird : 6.45 gh + 0.047 gh = ~ 6.50 gh

 

[ ] Cost of Vaccines, Medication and Supplements

Vaccines:

Gumboro 1&2 = 55 gh (1000 dose) ie. 0.055 each broiler .Therefore 1 broiler vaccinated twice = 2 × 0.055 = 0.11 gh
Gumboro 3 = 60 gh (1000 dose) which mean each broiler is 0.06gh

Total for Gumboro/Per birds : 0.11 + 0.06 = 0.17 gh

Newcastle 1&2 = 30 gh (1000 dose) i.e. 0.03 gh/ bird

Total for vaccinating each broiler : 0.17 + 0.03 = 0.20 gh

Let’s take the cost of Medication and supplements.

Approximately a total of 639 Gh would be required to medicate 100 broilers from day old to 9 weeks. This includes 1 kg Glucose, disinfectant, 2 kg Antibiotic/Vitamins, 2 Kg vitamins and Anti-Cocci.

Therefore medication for a broiler from Day old to 9 weeks : 639/100 = 6.39 gh

Total Cost of Medication & Supplements = 6.39 gh

[ ] Cost of Labour & Miscellaneous

Let’s take all to be approximately 4 gh per bird

Adding up all of this cost together we have:

Cost of day-old chicks ———— 6 gh
Cost of feeding per bird ———- 14.58 gh
Cost of Utilities per bird ———- 0.645 gh
Cost of Vaccines,Medics etc ——– 0.20gh
Cost of Labour & Msc ————- 4.0gh

Total ————————– 25.43 gh

All things being equal. We can conclude that a Total of Twenty Five Cedis, Forty Three pesewas ( 25.43 GH ) IS REQUIRED TO RAISE A BROILER FROM DAY-OLD TO 9 WEEKS IN GHANA.

Order your broiler chicks from us at https://www.poultinn.com/product/day-old-ross-broiler/