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Evaluation of On-Farm Composting of Turkey Brooder Litter

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  054064,  2005 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.19486) @2005
Authors:   John P. Chastain, P. Andrew Rollins, Kathy P. Moore
Keywords:   Composting, compost quality, poultry litter, nutrient management

Turkey production involves two phases of production. The first phase occurs on brooder farms where young turkeys are placed at a few days of age and are kept until they are about 35 days old. The young turkeys are transported to a grow-out farm where they are raised to market weight. Litter is removed from brooder barns after each flock, and contains a large amount of wood shavings relative to manure. Therefore, it was believed that litter from turkey brooder barns would compost well without addition of a carbon source.

A composting trial was conducted on a turkey brooder farm in South Carolina. Litter was removed from the barns and was moved to a composting shed located on the farm. Data were collected to determine the content of plant nutrient, carbon, TS, VS, FS, and C:N in the litter before and after composting. Windrow temperatures were monitored to determine if the required temperature conditions were obtained for pathogen treatment. Turkey brooder litter composted well as indicated by an average windrow temperature of 59C for 59 days. The final product was very stable as indicated by a low CO2 evolution rate (0.2 mg CO2-C/g organic matter/day). The C:N of the brooder litter was 22 and the C:N of the compost product was 23. It was determined that N losses during composting (53%) caused the C:N to remain constant. Therefore, reduction in C:N was not found to be a good indicator of compost stability in this field study.

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