One of the most impactful and yet overlooked components of internal biosecurity and hygiene is the litter. As a component of internal biosecurity and hygiene, its proper management contributes to optimize the control of health risks in livestock farming.

Litter materials and use

Depending on species and areas, litter materials can be diverse. The main ones remains straw, sawdust or directly floor. As animals are directly in contact with it, depending on species, its main roles when used in farms are to ensure animals’ comfort through thermal insulation, moisture absorption and prevention of pathologies like bacterial infections. It also influences animal behavior. Indeed, its characteristics play an important role in animal performance, the air quality within structures/housing areas and the work of the farmer.

Throughout the rearing phase, the litter will receive the excreta from the animals that will provide organic matter, water and an abundant and varied intestinal microflora. Along with dejections, other factors such as animals’ breathing, watering losses, condensation and sometimes inadequate cleaning management will produce water. After weeks of rearing, the litter will therefore become a favorable environment for the development of a microbial flora, as well as a place of discomfort for animals due to soaked and irritable contact surface.

Some microorganisms coming from animals’ digestive tract are not directly pathogenic. However, when present in high quantity, they may induce digestive troubles in weak animals. Many pathogens responsible for infections or parasitic diseases are present in animal secretions or dejections (fecal or other). These bacteria need air, optimal temperature and humidity to develop.

Bacteria development & litter deterioration

Bacteria develop more or less depending on their environment. For instance, straw is favorable to the development of streptococcus while sawdust is a good substrate for coliform bacteria. Beyond the concentration of germs excreted by animals (feces, urine, uterine and vaginal secretions…), a litter accelerates dynamic contamination, which results in an increase in the number of germs. This can happen when the litter is wet due to insufficient ventilation and/or when it is thick because of excessive mulching and insufficient cleaning.

In fact, wet litters are mainly due to watering system and dejection. But, this issue can also come from wet weather conditions, animals’ breathing, a poorly ventilated building, hermetic flooring under the litter, condensation and cleaning process.

The bottom line is, whatever the composition of the litter is, the combination of 3 factors allows bacteria to grow and flourish. These factors are: presence of air, optimal temperature and high humidity level. These factors also encourage the breakdown of urea from urine and will lead to a higher ammonia concentration in the barn. Ammonia emission will then degrade animal and farmer environment, but most importantly cause animal discomfort by chemical burns. 

Effects of a poor litter management

All these factors combined decrease the litter quality and cause troubles for animals such as respiratory, digestive and locomotive issues. Indeed, diseases such as food pad lesions, breast blisters and necrotic enteritis in poultry, mastitis and lameness in cattle and UTI in sows can be widely limited with a right litter management. It is a fundamental hygiene and biosecurity element! A litter that does not allow rapid drying and warmth for newborn piglets will negatively impact their colostrum intake.

Wisium’s litter solution – PURlite

Wisium has developed a unique litter solution called PURlite. PURlite is a powerful litter conditioner that dries piglets right after birth and, at the same time, helps ensure the right bedding environment. This unique solution helps ensure the best animal performance to improve your profitability. 

With its combination of vegetal and mineral raw materials, PURlite reduces humidity, therefore preventing humidity-linked damages and improving bedding condition with its powerful drying and odor binding effects. It does not irritate the skin of the animals and operators, and improves animal welfare and performances. This results in an improved bottom line for the producer.

Discover our litter conditioner solution PURlite.