Deep litter system is the most widely used for broiler rearing. Although the litter material differs in type from region to region, it is the most closely connected non ingested input for birds. The litter micro-biome comprises of myriad of bacteria and fungi which many a times directly influence the gut microbiology of poultry. Many efforts are in place to improve the poultry gut balance so has to improve performance and maintain positive health status without the use of antibiotics. In these gigantic efforts to convert the industry into clean non-antibiotic origin we may miss the miniature looking effects of the poultry litter.
Several co-factors arising from the litter including, but not limited to bacteria, Ammonia, wet litter, zoonosis and environment have been consistently raising eyebrows without much actions taken to inhibit the same. Bacterial contaminants like salmonella, campylobacter and E.coli have found safe haven in untreated litter. Ammonia emissions from these houses are coupled with other agricultural ammonia sources result in approximately 55 % of originating from manure management (Ammonia emissions, EU-28, 2013.png).
In the USA, Campylobacter is the second most isolated agent of food borne illness,where as in the European Union (EU), Campylobacter is the main pathogen that causes human gastroenteritis, with approximately 198,252 cases in 2009. Wet litter predominately originates from gut dysbiosis, especially in stressed birds. The easiest route to acquire infection in this case is the litter.
Poultry litter is the main reason for persistence of infection in poultry flock even after brutal antibiotic treatment due to re-infection cycles by litter contamination. Bio-aerosols arising from these bacteria and fungi are one of the most important factors for the respiratory cascade. Everyone focuses to disinfect water, bird, house and feed .It comes as no surprise that poultry litter/bedding forms a very important vertex of the etiology pyramid for broilers which spend their entire rearing cycle on it,as the most contagious contact.