Evaluation of the Influences of New Sustainable Bedding Materials with Stacked Litter Management on Factors that Benefit Turkey Health and Environment

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $27,825.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: PittMoss LLC
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Mary Deemer
PittMoss LLC

Information Products


  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, housing, manure management, meat product quality/safety, preventive practices

    Proposal abstract:

    The objectives of this project are to advance, and evaluate a new environmentally responsible, sustainable, poultry bedding, that will improve bird health while reducing air and water pollution. It seeks to improve management of ammonia emissions and litter moisture while increasing bird health in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. In a turkey production system, we will observe growth and behavior on new bedding materials and measure the properties that reduce ammonia emissions, dry surfaces. The new sustainable poultry bedding materials are derived from recycled, reprocessed, cellulosic fibers of waste agricultural biomass, recycled cardboard, and newspaper. This invention sequesters nitrogenous compounds from within the feces and reduces ammonia gassing-off in production, storage, and field applications. Thereby improving animal health and reducing environmental damage. We will be measuring the actual effectiveness of three forms compared to sawdust in a turkey production system. We will apply the new bedding in thin layers in a brooding pen where the poults are reared for 3-4 weeks and then moved to a grow out pen. We will then reapply the respective test beddings layered over the previous litter without disturbance for the second, third, and fourth batch of poults creating an “undisturbed, stacked, deep litter”. Mortality counts, ammonia gas measurements, and extensive analysis of litter properties will be made during each batch of poults, through a grow out and in the stored manure. Results will be compiled in a report and communicated through internet, conventional publications, society, and technical meetings.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to advance poultry production using a sustainable and more environmentally compatible bedding material. We will compare the newly manufactured lignocellulosic materials with sawdust bedding in the properties that promote bird health and wellbeing.

    The project will:

    1. Compare the new bedding materials to sawdust for effectiveness when used in a stacked bedding system to:
      1. Absorb and hold ammonium,
      2. Avoid conversion of ammonium to gaseous ammonia,
      3. Absorb moisture from excreta,
      4. Improve moisture release properties,
      5. Maintain lower surface moisture,
      6. Hold nitrogenous compounds in manure storage.
    2. Observe bird acceptance by observing time and behavior on the compared bedding materials and comparing the accumulation of manure and caking.

    The information collected in the trial of the new bedding materials and the use method of “Undisturbed Layered Stacked Litter” could start a trend and demonstration to growers implementation of more sustainable, environmentally conscious, and energy efficient methods for litter management, while increasing bird health and profitability. The developed information will have application to the smallest back-yard grower to large commercial operations. It will stimulate further innovations for more environmentally sustainable production.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.