Published by permission from Poultry Times; originally printed May 2, 2016.
Written by Gillan Ritchie.
WASHINGTON — The management of manure, poultry litter and by-products is not an easy thing to do. The management can be a very complicated issue for most. According to a press release by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, manure and other livestock by-products have positive and negative consequences to the environment. For example, manure can have substantial environmental benefits or it can result in severe degradation of the environment – the results depend on the choices that the producer makes. The poultry industry – which consists of layer, broiler, breeder and turkey – faces scrutiny under its environmental stewardship. The impact that a producer can have on the environment depends on the animal concentration, the weather, terrain, types of soils and other conditions. As a producer, ask yourself specific questions such as:
• What are your highest risk situations or practices for your poultry operation?
• Are you developing plans and investing resources to address the highest risk situations?
• Are you an environmental steward? Below is a list of management practices to help producers identify and implement management practices during poultry production while being an environmental steward.
Managing storage Poultry litter — or manure — and wastewater should be stored correctly to help protect water quality. Litter should be properly stored in a storage shed or secured under a tarp and weights for short-term field storage. Improperly released wastewater from manure storage and runoff from uncovered litter piles could pollute surface or ground water.
Land application and nutrient management When manure is applied properly, it can be a valuable source of plant nutrients by improving the quality and productivity of different types of soils. A producer can follow a Nutrient Management Plan to allow efficient use of nutrients from manure while protecting water quality. However, if not applied correctly, manure application can cause some problems. Application problems include discharge from application on land with sub-surface drainage tiles and runoff from application on frozen soil.
Poultry confinement areas For poultry confinement, producers should have well-designed and maintained units, bell waterers to help keep litter dry and fly paper to determine insect population and density. Leaking waterers or poor fly population management are practices to be avoided in confinement areas.
Other practices Poultry producers should exercise other management practices to help maintain environmental health and safety. According to the EPA, records should be kept to support and develop nutrient planning in cases of unforeseen emergencies. If compost is created correctly, it will help conserve nutrients in soil and later be used as a fertilizer. Use freezers to help render mortalities and protect water quality. Lastly, test soil to help determine the nutrient levels and plan accordingly for the application of manure.
Public perception The proper storage of litter and compost, as well well-maintained poultry facilities, will benefit the environment. Other things, such as grass filter strips to protect surface water, will help improve the public perception of the poultry industry.