Types of Litter Material
Sand or Gravel (<8 mm)
Advantages: Reduces bacterial growth in the facility compared to organic litter substrates; Lower surface temperature; Allows for dust bathing behaviour.
Disadvantages: Destructive to machinery. Sand recycling system may need to be purchased. Difficult to remove from the facility and clean.
Notes: More attention to floor temperature is needed.
Advantages: A common litter material with good moisture absorbency that is compostable.
Disadvantages: Shavings from hardwood may splinter, injuring the bird (sawdust as litter is less absorbent than wood shavings and tends to cake when wet).
Notes: Wood shavings should be made from softwood trees; May increase feather pecking; Limited in availability and expensive in some areas.
Advantages: Absorbs more moisture than wood shavings.
Disadvantages: Incidence of caking is higher in straw compared to wood shavings or bark. This can cause foot pad lesions. Use of straw may increase incidence of feather pecking. Poor quality straw may increase exposure to moulds such as aspergillus.
Notes: Straw from barley, Bermuda grass, flax, oat, wheat, or rye can be used; Wheat straw is the most common; Straw should be chopped to 2.5 cm or less.