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Water activity of poultry litter: Relationship to moisture content during a grow-out

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Dunlop, M. W., McAuley, J., Blackall, P. J. and Stuetz, R. M. (2016) Water activity of poultry litter: Relationship to moisture content during a grow-out. Journal of Environmental Management, 172 . pp. 201-206. ISSN 03014797

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.02.036


Poultry grown on litter floors are in contact with their own waste products. The waste material needs to be carefully managed to reduce food safety risks and to provide conditions that are comfortable and safe for the birds. Water activity (Aw) is an important thermodynamic property that has been shown to be more closely related to microbial, chemical and physical properties of natural products than moisture content. In poultry litter, Aw is relevant for understanding microbial activity; litter handling and rheological properties; and relationships between in-shed relative humidity and litter moisture content. We measured the Aw of poultry litter collected throughout a meat chicken grow-out (from fresh pine shavings bedding material to day 52) and over a range of litter moisture content (10–60%). The Aw increased non-linearly from 0.71 to 1.0, and reached a value of 0.95 when litter moisture content was only 22–33%. Accumulation of manure during the grow-out reduced Aw for the same moisture content. These results are relevant for making decisions regarding litter re-use in multiple grow-outs as well as setting targets for litter moisture content to minimise odour, microbial risks and to ensure necessary litter physical conditions are maintained during a grow-out. Methods to predict Aw in poultry litter from moisture content are proposed.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:Broiler; Meat chicken; Equilibrium relative humidity (ERH); Wet litter; Water absorption isotherms
Subjects:Animal culture > Poultry
Animal culture > Housing and environmental control
Live Archive:07 Mar 2016 03:10
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:50

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