Effects of Sawdust Thickness on the Performance, Environmental Condition and Welfare of Yellow Broilers

Increasing litter thickness was associated with improvements in the growth, air conditions and welfare of yellow broilers in this study from Yangzhou, China.
calendar icon 2 February 2015
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In an experiment conducted by Dan Shao of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and co-authors there and at Yangzhou University, the effects were evaluated of litter thickness on growth performance, immune status, environmental condition and welfare of yellow broilers.

As they describe in their paper in Poultry Science, a total of 1,800 day-old Suqin yellow broilers were raised for 21 days. On day 22, 1,600 birds of similar bodyweight (around 404g) were randomly selected and placed into 20 indoor pens (eight birds per square metres in 10-square-metre pens).

These birds were assigned to a litter treatment of 4, 8, 12 or 16cm in depth. Each treatment was repeated in five pens.

The results showed that a thicker litter was related to increased bodyweight, daily weight gain, and daily feed intake.

Feed conversion ratio and mortality were unaffected by litter thickness.

Absolute and relative liver weights showed a significant linear response to increasing litter thickness.

The litter moisture content, air ammonia and carbon dioxide concentrations decreased, whereas the air dust content increased with increasing litter thickness.

Litter thickness had no effect on gait, plumage damage, hock burn or breast skin crusting. However, plumage cleanliness, foot pad dermatitis, hock swelling and breast blister varied significantly with litter thickness.

Shao and co-authors concluded from their results that increasing litter thickness has beneficial effects on the growth performance, environmental condition and welfare of birds.


Shao D., J. He,, J. Lu, Q. Wang, L. Chang, S.R. Shi and T.H. Bing. 2015. Effects of sawdust thickness on the growth performance, environmental condition, and welfare quality of yellow broilers. Poultry Science. 94: 1-6.

Further Reading

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February 2015

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