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Poultry litter can be an economical source of nitrogen for replacement animals.

Dairy Pipeline: February 1996

by Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist
Virginia Tech

Poultry litter has been used in beef cattle for many years, but has not been fed to lactating dairy cattle because of the possible milk residue problem. However, replacement heifers can use poultry litter efficiently with little problem if fed correctly. Poultry litter can contain 30% protein and 60% TDN. About half of the protein is nonprotein nitrogen in the form of uric acid. Before feeding, processing is needed by deep stacking and heating for 4 to 6 weeks. Heating will kill any pathogens. Since quality can vary, it is advisable to test litter before feeding. Generally it is best to feed litter to animals 400 lbs. and above, and not to feed to young calves. For more mature animals a mixture of 80% litter and 20% corn can be used. Usually for replacement animals 20 to 40% of the ration dry matter can come from litter, but it is best to balance a ration with litter to determine the optimal rate for the conditions you have. Adapt animals over a 10 to 14 day period by introducing limited amounts at the beginning. Litter at $15 per ton is an economical source of nitrogen for replacement animals.

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