Control of the environment and litter in livestock

Partenaire(s) : Grimaud Frères
Filière(s) : Autres volailles | Canard

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In this tutorial, Emmanuel gives you his recommendations on the right way to mulch and on the optimal management of the building atmosphere.


Emmanuel Merleaud, Pekin duck production manager


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Different types of litter and their use

The litter ensures the comfort of the animals by :

  • thermal insulation
  • moisture absorption
  • prevention of pathologies

The types of litter to be favoured are :

  • whole straws
  • shredded straw
  • shavings

Straw plugs can be used occasionally, in case of litter slippage.

The use of litter

The amount of litter to be used depends on the type of soil, and the type of litter. The litter should be stored in an area that is :

  • closed on all 4 sides
  • de-ratched
  • sealed against moisture, rodents and birds

It is considered that an average of 1.5 kg/m² is needed at the start, then between 0.2 and 0.5 kg/m² when the litter is replenished. The frequency of litter replenishment depends on the density of the animals, the season and the climate.

In the summer, when the climate is hot and dry, the number of mulches can be reduced to 2 to 3 times a week. In winter, however, the frequency of mulching can be daily, because of the humidity in the air.


Due to the high water consumption of ducks, the humidity level should be around 70%. The bedding serves to absorb the moisture contained in the faeces, and ventilation and heating must allow the excess moisture to be evacuated.

In winter, do not neglect ventilation. The air should be renewed at a rate of at least 0.5 cubic metres per hour per kilo of body weight and at most 8 cubic metres per hour per kilo of body weight.

This air supply will limit the risk of fermentation and the release of ammonia. In the off-season, adjust the air requirement daily due to the large temperature variations.

Water and equipment

The management of water consumption and its quality are also important factors in ensuring that the litter is well maintained. Proper adjustment of equipment will limit water wastage.

For waterers, allow for a water height of one phalanx in the bottom of the bowl and a mid-neck setting.
For pipettes, vary the height so that they are at eye level. The pressure should also be adjusted according to age.

The pH of the drinking water should be between 6 and 6.5. In the case of future breeders, to ensure the well-being and meet the physiological needs of the animals, it is necessary to maintain a feed-water ratio close to 3:1, i.e. 0.6 or 0.7 L per animal per day. Beyond that, it is possible to regulate the water supply.
On the other hand, in breeding stock, feed consumption is spread out over the day, allowing water to be regulated only at night, outside the summer period. To meet the animals’ needs, the feed should not be too high in protein or too low in fibre!

All this favours transit and limits diarrhoea by keeping the litter in good condition. Controlling the environment and the bedding ensures the comfort of the animals and allows them to fully express their genetic potential.

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