The Australian chicken meat industry produces an estimated 1 M tonnes of poultry litter (manure and spent bedding material) every year. This material is considered a by-product rather than a waste, and currently has a modest economic value to chicken growers.
The most common method of utilisation of chicken litter is land application as a fertiliser replacement for crops or pastures. To support this pathway for utilisation, the industry has conducted a large body of research to help overcome barriers and promote sustainable application practices. The industry has more recently investigated other approaches to utilisation, such as energy generation (producing electricity and heat) which can potentially be achieved using a number of different technologies. A related topic of interest for the industry is the reuse of litter within poultry sheds for multiple batches of chickens.
Across three topics – land application, energy generation and litter reuse – there is now a large body of Australian and international research which is contained in thousands of pages of detailed research reports. This report provides a review of this information, as a background document for a series of simple user guides that have been developed for farmers (both chicken meat farmers and others interested in utilising poultry litter) and advisors, to improve litter utilisation. These guides are available at https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/14-094, https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/14-095, and https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/14-096.