Poultry litter is a waste and also an acceptable source of protein for cattle. Rations containing poultry litter should be carefully balanced to ensure that nutritional requirements of cattle are met and that the potential for mineral excesses is minimized.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) temporarily banned the feeding of poultry litter to beef cattle in the U.S in 2003 until the risks to human health associated with the practice is ascertained.
Poultry litter should be supplemented with an energy source. Experienced animal nutritionists researches has shown that addition of maize will increase the energy and palatability. It must be crushed in order to improve mixing characteristics and prevent sorting and wastage.
Poultry litter-maize rations of this type should also be supplemented with vitamin A and a high- to moderate-quality forage, Rumensin can also be added to poultry litter rations to improve feed efficiency.
Regulations For Safe Use
This help in heating the poultry litter at temperatures that kill potential pathogens.
- Lower pH
This is done by spraying with acetic acid to lower the pH to 4.7 .
- Deep Stacking
The poultry litter should be bagged and stacked to height of 6 at least 3 weeks so that the microbial processes will cause the poultry litter to heat to temperatures of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or more thereby killinng the pathogens.
- Foreign Objects Free
The poultry litter should be free of any metal, polythene bags, sacs, glass, rocks, and other foreign objects if it is to be fed to beef cattle that can cause injury to animals.
Mix with chopped, whole-plant corn or another roughage so as to lower the pH to 4.7 or below, which kills pathogens present in the poultry litter.
- Exclusion of Animal Carcasses
Animal carcass should not be in the poultry litter as this will increase its pathogenic load. Mycotoxins, such as alflatoxin, are not a problem in poultry litter because pH is usually unfavorable for mold growth, but other bio-residues may be cause for concern. Heart failure has been observed in cattle consuming extremely high levels of poultry litter with little or no hay or pasture.
- Adequate Moisture Content
Moisture content must not be less than 20% and moisture be added to poultry litter to facilitate storage, handling and feeding by sprinkling it with water in the poultry house before removal. Also, water can be added to extremely dry poultry litter rations just prior to feeding to increase consumption by cattle.
Farmers should consultoultry litter has a low vitamin A content therefore poultry litter-fed cattle to graze can also ensure that the cattle receive sufficient dietary vitamin A. It must not be fed before calving as it might predispose poultry litter-fed cattle to graze can also ensure that the cattle receive sufficient dietary vitamin A.