Litter characteristics of pine shavings, bio-secure pine shavings and sunflower hulls and its impact on broiler performance

Mareli Smalberger, Christine Jansen van Rensburg


The aim of this study was to investigate the physical characteristics of three litter materials, namely pine shavings (PS), bio-secure, fumigated pine shavings (BS) and sunflower hulls (SH) and its influence on broiler performance over a 33-day production cycle. The experiment was conducted in commercial poultry houses holding 42,500 chicks each, utilising a randomised block design with six house replicates per treatment. Litter samples were collected weekly for analyses of moisture, water-holding capacity, bulk density, pH and litter caking. Broiler footpad dermatitis was monitored at 21 and 31 days, together with acid detergent fibre (ADF) concentration of gizzard content, gizzard weight and small intestinal weight and length of 120 birds per treatment. Broilers across treatments consumed litter material which was evident in increased ADF levels of gizzard contents relative to feed. The SH contained more nutrients based on proximate analysis as compared to other treatments. Rearing on SH led to lower 7-day cumulative mortality, higher kilograms of broilers produced per square meter, average daily gain and slaughter weight. Improvements seen with SH did not alter commercial indicators, namely, production efficiency factor and feed conversion ratio. Litter converged toward similar physical characteristics at the end of production cycles when few differences were observed between treatments due to addition of feed, feathers and excreta.


Bedding material, Intestinal weight, Litter physical characteristics, Poultry production

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