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Gypsum alternative bedding material in broiler houses

The increasing price of bedding materials is putting a strain on broiler producers. As products such as pine shavings and rice hulls become more difficult to obtain, the law of supply and demand results in high prices of bedding materials. Alternative bedding materials are receiving more attention, as traditional materials increase in price and decrease in availability.

Gypsum is a by-product of the housing industry and has shown some promise as a bedding material.

A trial was conducted at the University of Athens in Georgia, USA, to evaluate a 50:50 gypsum:pine shavings combination compared to pine shavings as a bedding material. Commercial straight run broilers were placed at a density of 0.70 sq ft per bird in 6 floor pens per treatment containing 3 inches of bedding material.

Broilers were fed standard commercial diets and managed according to the primary breeder guidelines. Bird and feed weights were obtained at 0, 7, 21 and 40 d of age.

Mortality was monitored daily and ammonia volatilization, litter moisture and pH was determined at 21 and 40 d of age. No differences in broiler performance, livability or paw score were observed in this study. Ammonia concentration, litter moisture and pH were significantly lower in the gypsum treatment than the shavings treatment at both 21 and 40 day of age.

Percent caking of the litter did not appear to be different between the bedding materials. This data suggests that gypsum could serve as a litter material for broiler production.

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