Now that winter seems to be ending, spring brings an opportunity for most producers to do a whole house cleanout. After this exceptionally cold and wet winter, producers had a very difficult time removing all the water and humidity that accumulated over the course of 5 to 6 months. All this excess water has ended up deep in the litter pack and saturating the pads to most houses. This has created a high level of ammonia and bacteria that can challenge any flock.
However, too often houses are cleaned out but not refilled with an adequate amount of bedding which can cause more problems than it solves especially if down time is short and not enough time is given for the pads to dry out.
Since litter acts as a medium for absorbing and releasing moisture, it plays an important role in maintaining optimum relative humidity levels of 50-70%. If the litter base isn’t deep enough, the litter can become easily saturated which can cause excessive caking. In fact, not placing enough litter after clean out can cost a grower more than the initial bedding cost would have.
Optimize house conditions for your birds with these 4 smart clean out steps:
- As soon as the last flock leaves, remove all litter down to the dirt pad. Pay careful attention to corners and under sidewalls. Remove litter there by hand if necessary. Any litter left in the poultry house generates ammonia for the next flock.
- Wait several days before replacing litter so the dirt pad can dry sufficiently.
- Use attic inlets and stir fans to encourage pad drying during the down time.
- Dirt pads can retain ammonia, especially in houses older than 5 years. Acidify the pad with PLT® to limit ammonia release during brooding.
- Spread a minimum of 4 inches of wood based bedding or 6 inches of rice hulls on the dirt pad. Remember, skimping on litter depth can cost you more in the long run.
Have questions? Litter is our expertise, so be sure to contact your Jones-Hamilton representative for advice on ideal clean out and pad acidification processes. And be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with the latest tips and news.