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Managing Litter During a Pine Shaving Shortage

By May 24, 2021News, PLT

Across the country, the pine shavings used by many poultry producers for bedding have become increasingly difficult to find as well as more expensive. While the industry at large no longer cleans out houses after every flock, clean outs are still a regular part of litter management. Sufficient litter depth is necessary in order to allow the bedding to fulfill its purpose of:

  • Absorbing moisture
  • Providing insulation from cold floors
  • Cushioning for birds’ breasts and paws

These four tips can help producers successfully manager litter so it serves the needs of their flocks for a longer period of time, thereby delaying clean out:

Decake Minimally

An important part of litter management is the removal of wet, crusted litter between flocks. Keep in mind that bedding that’s removed must be replaced to maintain a sufficient depth of 4-6 inches. Set the decaker to remove just the crusted litter, not going any deeper than necessary. Use a shovel to carefully remove just the cake along the sidewalls and in the corners if needed. Precise decaking will maintain litter depth and condition, extending its usefulness.

Pay close attention to litter curing and proper pre-heating

Successfully raising birds on built up litter begins with a 48-72 hour pre-heat. Pre-heating will raise the core litter temperature and allow litter to cure, thereby releasing excess moisture and ammonia from the litter bed. This process preserves the integrity of the built-up litter and extends litter’s usefulness.

Clean out one house at a time

When shavings are scarce and costly, cleaning out just one house will help manage costs while avoiding the urge to install shavings at an insufficient depth. While tempting, insufficient litter depth will not manage moisture well leading to excessive caking from day one.

Increase PLT® rate to manage challenges of older litter

Over time, deep litter ammonia concentrations will increase. Increasing your PLT application rate can help with this and other litter challenges from built up litter to delay clean out.


A study that assessed how various application rates of PLT impacted broiler production performances and ammonia emissions showed that birds raised in houses using a higher rate of PLT (150lbs vs 75lbs per 1,000 sq ft) had lower FCR and higher weights resulting in an increase in settlement.


While shavings may be in short supply, managing litter without production losses is still possible with the help of time-tested practices and PLT litter amendment. Contact your Jones-Hamilton Co. rep today for helping in managing litter in all conditions.

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