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Applied Research

Jennifer Rhodes
Principal Agent, Agriculture & Food Systems
University of Maryland Extension


Bedding is an important component used in the rearing of poultry.  Traditionally, pine shavings (PS) have been the bedding of choice because of performance, availability, and cost.  However, as the cost of PS continues to rise, and availability decreases, alternative sources of litter are needed. Grasses, including native switchgrass (SG), can produce large amounts of biomass and can be grown on marginal land.  Chopped SG possesses the necessary qualities needed to be alternative bedding.  While there is some research demonstrating that SG is a viable alternative bedding material in pen trials, none have been done looking at the long term viability in commercial houses that go multiple grow-outs between cleanouts.  The objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of using SG as an alternative bedding material in commercial production houses.Two farms were used to run comparisons of pine shavings vs. SG.  The bedding material was placed in opposite ends in the second house to remove any variable caused by location in the house.  Early results found no significant difference in bird wt. (PS 4.00kg, SG 3.95kg), feed conversion (PS 2.04, SG 1.99), mortality, (PS 3.41%, SG 3.14%) or paw quality.  These early results suggest that in areas where SW is grown, it can provide a viable cost effective alternative source of poultry bedding.



Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: J. Rhodes
  1. Rhodes, J. AGENT, AGRICULTURE & NATURAL RESOURCES, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21617