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What Low Humidity Levels in Winter Mean for Your Litter Amendment Application

By February 19, 2021News, PLT

Winter is in full effect across the country. With poultry houses closed up tight, it’s more important than ever to apply PLT® to control ammonia. However, the cold, dry winter air sometimes presents a challenge when it comes to litter amendments.

1. Ammonia will release quickly from dry, powdery litter

2. Warming cold, dry air makes it even drier

3. Most litter amendments require moisture to activate

Combined, those three statements demonstrate why activation issues occur mostly commonly from January to March. If the floor or air is very dry, slow litter amendment activation is experienced until birds start to add moisture or minimum ventilation is adjusted to allow relative humidity (RH) to rise.

Activation challenges are seen in houses with windrowed litter more than decaked litter since that litter is typically drier from the pulverizing process and can no longer donate moisture to the air to maintain RH.  Fine, powdery litter also releases exponentially more ammonia due to increased surface area. Because of this, it is far easier to prevent activation issues by not over-working litter in the first place.

Maintain Ideal Humidity, Avoid Activation Issues

Understanding the variables that can impact humidity levels is the first step to maintaining the target humidity of 50-65%.

Litter Particle Size

Finely ground litter is overly dry and cannot donate moisture into the environment as required to maintain proper humidity for birds. Consider only de-caking for the next flock rather than tilling.

Fan Run Time

If relative humidity is low inside the house, excessive fan run time will only make it worse. Adjust fan run time to keep relative humidity above 50%. If necessary, consider reducing fan time by about 15 seconds for a few hours to increase humidity. Don’t increase run time until the RH exceeds 60%. Once it does, add fan time gradually to keep RH levels stable.

If you’re experiencing activation issues with your litter amendment, contact your Jones-Hamilton Co. rep or your applicator to assess your litter conditions.

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