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Litter turner aids poultry farmers

The Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District has purchased a poultry litter turner through a grant from Alabama’s Department of Environmental Management and it is available to Pike County producers at no cost.

Randy Hale, district conservationist, said the litter turner is beneficial to the environment and to the producer.

“Using a litter turner is a good thing for the producer because he or she doesn’t have to worry about where to put the litter and it takes care of insects and diseases,” Hale said. “But the greatest benefit is that, after three or four uses, production is increased because of fewer insects and less disease so there is more money in the pocket of the growers.

At the Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District, we encourage the use of a poultry litter turner because it protects the environment and helps producers stay in business.”

Hale said Pike County poultry growers have had a couple of opportunities to see a litter turner demonstrated.

“We had demonstrations at James Motes’ and Steve Stroud’s farms and had good a turnout at both,” he said. “So, most growers are familiar with the use of the litter turner and its benefits.”

Hale said that retaining poultry litter in houses following the raising of a flock is a management technique that may return more money to the grower through the use of a litter turner after the sell of the birds.

The concept is a rather simple one. The machine windrows litter causing it to go through a very high heat temperature, which kills many insects and pathogens.

“Generally, a 40-foot wide house many have three windrow piles,” Hale said. “Minimum windrow heights should be 36 inches. When time exists, it is also feasible to windrow the litter a second time to create conditions for the temperature to rise again to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.”

After the temperature decreases again, the litter should be spread evenly throughout the poultry house.

“Although you many not realize an immediate benefit, after turning the little following several batches, production will increase due to reduced insects and diseases,” Hale said.

For more information and to schedule the use of the poultry littler turner, contact the Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District at 566-2300 Ext. 3 or visit the office in the USDA building at 22 Henderson Highway in Troy.