In the summer, poultry litter requires special care—whether birds are already in the house or you’re preparing for the next flock. Get your next flock off to the right start this summer with these quick tips for downtime.
1. As soon as the live haul finishes catching birds in a house, shut the house up tightly to retain heat and begin the litter curing process. Run a tunnel fan about 5 minutes at the end of every hour if the house begins to sweat.
2. Turn up the lights and walk the entire length of the house noting the location, depth and character of the caked litter. This will give you information about the quality of minimum ventilation in terms of humidity and direction of airflow, and indicate areas of maintenance that may be necessary.
3. Use the information regarding depth and location of cake to set the housekeeper or de-caking machine properly. The blade on the machine should be set only deep enough to get under the cake and not to disturb the litter underneath.
4. De-cake the house as soon as possible to allow the litter to cure properly.
5. Only run the de-caking machine in the areas of the house with cake. Do not “fluff” the litter by running the de-caker to the floor and sidewall to sidewall. Over-crusting releases large amounts of ammonia that will not finish curing before the next flock arrives.
6. Once you are finished de-caking, close the house back up tightly to allow the litter to cure and floor temperatures to remain constant and separate from the outside weather conditions. Run just enough fan time to prevent condensation inside the house.