Alum Sludge and Zeolite as Components of Broiler Litter

Alum Sludge and Zeolite as Components of Broiler Litter

81998Applied Poultry Science, Inc ALUM SLUDGE AND ZEOLITE AS COMPONENTS OF BROILER LITTER Primary Audience: Poultry Producers, Flock Supervisors, Pr...

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81998Applied Poultry Science, Inc


Primary Audience: Poultry Producers, Flock Supervisors, Production Managers. Researchers

in the chemical processes used in water treatDESCRIPTION OF PROBLEMment plants to purify d r i i g water. In the Wood shavings are the most common material used as litter in commercial broiler operations in the USA. The availability and cost of wood shavings is affected by increased demand from the poultry industry and competing industries that use wood shavings to produce value-added products. Various alternative materials, including pelleted newspaper [l], have been evaluated. Another example is alum [AI2(SO&14H20]. It is used as a coagulant 1 To whom correspondence

should be addressed

process colloidsare destabilized and prepared for settling and filtration and alum sludge is a coproduct of the process. The low solids content of the sludge presents a problem in disposal. Waste reduction programs to conserve landfii space, escalating tipping fees, society's interest in recycling, and opportunities in the rapidly expanding poultry industry are an incentive to find a use for alum sludge. Natural zeolites are crystalline, hydrated aluminosilicates with adsorption and ion ex-

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D. V. MAURICE', S. E LIGHTSEY, ELLINGTON HAMRICK, and J. COX Depamnent of Animal and Veterinay Sciences, Box 340361, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634.0361 Phone: (864) 656-4023 F M : (864) 656-1033 E-mail: dmrc


change properties. They have been used in the treatment of animal wastes to reduce odor and create a healthy environment for confined animals [2]. Numerous deposits of natural zeolites are in the several million metric-ton range, and there appears to be an unlimited supply in the western parts of the United States [2]. The cost of wood shavings has steadily increased and there is a need to discover alternative sources of litter. Broiler chicken production offers an excellent niche for litter alternatives, substitutes, and additives to maintain or enhance performance directly andlor indirectly through improvement of the microenvironment. The present experiment evaluated the use of alum sludge and natural zeolites as components of broiler litter.

9 ft3 of wood shavings. In pens treated with alum sludge and natural zeolite, 12.5 kg alum sludge and 6.25 kg zeolite were incorporated into 7 ft3 wood shavings. Alum sludge andlor natural zeolites were broadcast over the wood shavings and mixed lightly with a rake 1 wk before placement of chicks.

MEASUREMENTS The birds were observed daily and dead birds removed and weighed. Body weight and feed conversion were measured at 6 wk of age. The quantity of litter in each pen was measured at the start and end of the experiment and litter samples were obtained at the same time. A metal cylinder was used as a probe to collect five samples from each pen. These samples were pooled and a sample of the composite used for analysis. Litter pH was measured [6] at 6 wk. Litter nitrogen and phosphorus were determined [7] on dried material at the start and termination and expressed as the increase from day-old to 6 wk on dry matter basis per bird. Ammonia concentration in each pen was monitored [8] between 5 and 6 wk of age using a passive dosimeter tube for ammonia [9] attached to a stake at bud level. The sides of the house were closed with curtains during the monitoring period. Darkling beetles in the litter were estimated by using polyvinyl trap tubes with rolled cardboard insert [lo] kept in each pen from 4 to 6 wk of age. Leg and foot conditions were evaluated for both the incidence and severity of twisted legs, crooked toes, and infected and callused hocks and foot pads [ll].At 3 wk of age birds from each pen were killed, examined, and scored for tibial dyschondroplasia [12].

MATERIALS AND METHODS ANIMALS AND HUSBANDRY Commercial broiler chicks (Avian x Arbor Acres) were grown in an open-sided broiler house with partial environment control. Forty chicks were placed in floor pens at a final stocking density of 0.75 ft2/bird. The birds received a standard corn-soybean meal starter diet from Day 1 to 3 wk (21.4%crude protein and 3175 kcal ME/kg) and thereafter a similar grower diet to 6 wk of age (19.0% crude protein and 3250 kcal ME/kg). The diets were fortified with vitamins and minerals and contained 4.8% poultry fat as well as an anticoccidial (Amprol) in both the diets. The birds were exposed to a 24-hr photoperiod and feed and water were provided ad libitum. The experiment occurred during April and May. At 3 wk of age the number in each pen was reduced to 30 buds. LITTER TREATMENT Each control 30 ft2 earth floor pen was covered to a depth of about 4 in. with 10 ft3 of wood shavings, equivalent to 62.5 kg. Alum sludge was substituted for wood shavings at 20% and each pen with alum sludge contained 8ft3 wood shavings and 12.5 kg of partially dried (35% moisture) alum sludge [3]. Alum sludge generated from drinking water purification contains between 2 and 3% solids and it was partially dried by a special process [4]. Because of a difference in we1 t, in the case of natural zeolite [q, only 1 ft was used with


EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS The four litter treatments were arranged in four randomized complete blocks. Four adjacent pens along one side of the house constituted a block and within each block the litter treatments were allocated at random. A pen of 40 chicks was the experimental unit. The data were subjected to analysis of variance [13] and the results presented as least squares means & standard error of the mean.

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Research Report 265

MAURICE et al.

agree with those reported concerning the use RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONof pelleted newspaper as broiler litter material

BODY WEIGHT (9) 6 Wk 3 Wk


Wood shavings Wood shavings Woodshavines IWoodshavines

+ 20% AS + 10%NZ + lO%NZ+2O%AS I


when placed at one-half the sawdust litter volume [l]. Litter moisture is an important litter quality factor. The performance responses and leg scores showed that litter moisture was not a problem. The low litter pH was also indirect evidence of low litter moisture as above pH 7.0 ammonia production increases and reaches a maximum at pH 8.0 [14]. These findings indicate that broiler chickens can tolerate a wide range of material as litter, provided it has the capacity to absorb moisture and retain nitrogen and provided it is managed correctly. In addition to the increasing cost of litter material, a complex and challenging environmental problem is disposal of poultry manure. The total nitrogen and phosphorus content of poultry manures and titters is among the highest of all animal manures. Repeated land application is the most common form of disposal, generally resulting in excess phosphorus in the soil [ l q , except in extremely P-deficient soils. Phosphorus in the soil be-






6 Wk

3 Wk

6 Wk



















725 285



2042 k24.4



1.668 20.042



1.983 k0.027



1.7 k0.41



0.87 20.181

were killed, examined, and scored for tibial dyschondroplasia [ll] and at 6 wk the legs were examined and scored or leg conditions [lo].

AAt 3wk of age 10 birds from each

TABLE 2. Broiler chicken litter characteristics after replacement of 1 0 4 0 % of wood shavings with alum sludge (AS) and/or natural zeolites (NZ)


A13pressed as the increase from day-old to 6 wk of age on a dry matter basis.


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Mortality and morbidity were negligible in the experiment, with one bud dead per treatment. No statistically significant effect due to litter treatment was detected for the performance variables and leg scores measured (Table 1). Litter characteristics (Table 2) were not influenced (P>.O5) by the litter treatments used in the study. The standard deviations for litter nitrogen were 42.1, 2.6, 24.6, and 4.5. For litter phosphorus the standard deviations were 20.7,4.6,33.0, and 8.2 for the four treatments (Table 2). Although no statistically signifcant effect was detected for litter dry matter nitrogen and phosphorus, there was a consistent trend towards greater retention of these nutrients with alum sludge as evidenced by the lower standard deviation. This trend in nitrogen retention in litter was not reflected in titter ammonia concentration. The 16 beetle traps used yielded two beetles from one pen. The results of this experiment with respect to growth, livability, and feed conversion


comes a problem only when it is transported to surface water sensitive to eutrophication. Hence, there is concern about its movement into surface waters by erosion, runoff, and subsurfaceflow. Surface applicationof poultry manure resulted in the highest loss of P and the highest chemical oxygen demand in the runoff water [16]. Soluble inorganic P and organic P are the major components in runoff that can be reduced through P retention. The primary soil constituents involved in “Pfmtion” are the hydrous oxides of iron and aluminum [15].Alum sludge application increased ALP and Fe-P, and these two forms were negatively correlated with P availability [lq.The use of partially dried alum sludge as a component of poultry litter could contribute to reduced movement of P when the manure is applied to land. Thus, the use of

alum sludge as a component of poultry litter could have a positive impact on environmental issues related to repeated land application of poultry manure as well as disposal of alum sludge arising from drinking water purification. Broiler litter may be used at up to 80% in the ration of dry beef cows. The use of alum sludge at 20% in the litter will result in an increase in litter aluminum by 18 mgkg. A lo00 lb dry cow will require about 11kg of a ration consistingof 80% broiler litter ~ 1 ~ ~ 2 0 % cracked corn. If alum sludge is used at 20% in the litter and if such litter is included in a dry cow ration, the intake of aluminum would increase by 15 m a g or 165 mg/day. The maximum tolerable level of aluminum for cattle and sheep is about lo00 mg/kg [18].

CONCLUSIONS AND APPLICATIONS 1. Partially dried alum sludge from a water treatment plant and mined natural zeolites were effective as litter material. 2. These components were effective singly at 20% or in combination at 30%. 3. The use of these components had no discernible negative effect on growth, feed conversion, leg scores, livability, and litter characteristics.

REFERENCES AND NOTES 1.Malone, G.W. and N. Gedamu, 1995.Pelleted newspaper as broiler litter material. J. Appl. Poultry Res. 449-54. 2. Mumpton, F.A. and P.H. Fishman, 1977. The application of natural zeolites in animal science and aquaculture.J. Anim. Sci. 45:1188-1203. 3. Alum sludge obtained from Peace River Water Treatment Plant, 8998 SW CountyRoad 769, Arcadia,FL 33821.

4. David Robbins, P.O. Box 627, Wagener, SC 29164. Personal communication.

5. Natural zeolites processed in Vancouver, BC were supplied by Holly Creek Distributor, 522 Hasslers Mill Road, Chatsworth,GA 30705. 6. H a , W.E, G.W. Malone, and G.W. Chaloupka, 1984. Effect of litter treatment on broiler performance and certain litter quality parameters. Poultry Sci. 632167-2171.

9. Ammonia dosimeter tubes manufactured by Sensidyne, Inc., Clearwater, FT, 34620 and supplied by Safety uipment Company, P.O. Box 5182, Columbia, sc 2 9 3 . ’ 10. Safrit, RD. and RC. Axtell, 1984. Evaluationsof sampling methods for darkling beetles ( ’tobius in the litter of turkey and b r o e h o u s e s . PoultrySa.63:2368-2375. 11. Weaver, Jr., W.D. and R Meuerhot, 1991. The effects of different levels of relative humidity and air movement on litter conditions, ammonia levels, growth and carcass quality for broiler chickens. Poultry Sci. 70:746-755. 12. IGJwards, Jr., H.M. and J.R Veltmann, 1983. The role of calcium and phosphorus in the etiology of tibial dyschondroplasiain young chicks. J. Nutr. 1131568-1575. 13. Mead, R and R M . Curnow, 1983. Pa es 79-83 in: Statistical Methods in Agriculture and k r i m e n t a l Biology. Chapman and Hall, New York, NY.

7. Association of Official Analytical Chemists, 1984. Official Methods of Analysis of the Official Analytical Chemists. AOAC, Washington, DC.

14. Reece, F.N., B.D. Loll, and J.W. Deaton, 1979. Ammonia control in broiler houses. Poultry Sci. 58754-

8. Skewes, P.A. and J.D. Harmon, 1995. Evaluation of ammonia quick test and ammonia dosimeter tubes for determiningammonia levels in broiler facilities. J. Appl. Poultry Res. 4148-152.

15. Sims, J.T. and D.C. Wolf, 1994. Poultry waste management: Agricultural and environmental issues. Adv. Agron. 521-83.


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Research Report MAURICE ef al. 16.McLeod, RV. and RO. Hegg, 1984. Pasture runoff water quality from ap lication of inorganic and organic nitrogen sources.J. Environ. Qual. 13122-126. 17. Cox, kE,1993.Effect of alum sludge application on the chemistry and availability of phosphate and se-

267 lected metals in a coastal plain soil. M.S. Thesis, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634.

18. National Research Council, 1980. Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals. Natl. Acad. Press, Washington, DC.

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