Flue gas desulfurization gypsum: Its effectiveness as an alternative bedding material for broiler production

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Abstract

Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum may be a viable low-cost alternative bedding material for broiler production. In order to evaluate FGD gypsum's viability, a study was conducted to determine its influence on live performance (body weight, feed consumption, feed efficiency, and footpad dermatitis), litter characteristics (caking, moisture percentage, and surface temperature) and ammonia volatilization in 3 successive flocks. FGD gypsum was compared with pine shaving (PS), pine bark (PB), PS + FGD gypsum (second material was top dressed over first), PB + FGD gypsum, PS + PB, FGD gypsum + PS, and FGD gypsum + PB. Bedding had no significant influence on feed consumption (FC), feed efficiency (FE), and mortality (M). Body weight and adjusted feed efficiency (AFE) were significantly lower with FGD gypsum compared to that of PS for flock 1, with no differences being observed among the other bedding materials. No differences were noted in live performance for flocks 2 or 3. Incidences of footpad lesions were lower with FGD gypsum than the other bedding materials, but only for flock 1. Bedding treatment had no influence on litter surface temperature. Gravimetric moisture content of gypsum treatments was lower than that of non-gypsum treatments; however, visually, the FGD gypsum was more compacted and had a surface crust. Reductions in ammonia volatilization also were observed during the initial flock with FGD gypsum; however, its effectiveness had diminished by flock 2 and 3.

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