SURVIVAL OF FECAL COLIFORMS IN FRESH AND STACKED BROILER LITTER
Journal of Applied Poultry Research , 9 , 2000

Hartel, P.G., Segars, W.I., Summer, J.D., Collins, J.V., Phillips, A.T., Whittle, E.

Fecal coliforms are indicator bacteria that are used for determining water quality. Poultry growers may be implicated when fecal coliforms are found in surface waters following runoff events from broiler litter-amended pastures and hayfields. This study determined the numbers of fecal coliforms in fresh and stacked broiler litter. In 1998, 10 of 20 fresh and all 19 stacked broiler litter samples from eight different Georgia counties contained less-than-detectable numbers of fecal coliforms (< 10 fecal coliforms per g of dry weight litter). In 1999, all 13 interior and 12 of 13 exterior samples of stacked litter from one South Carolina and two Georgia counties contained less-than-detectable numbers of fecal coliforms. When high numbers of fecal coliforms (> 10,000,000 fecal coliforms per g of dry weight litter) were added to five different broiler litter samples, numbers of fecal coliforms declined to below detectable levels within 8 days. When water was added to two of the five stacked litter samples, survival of fecal coliforms did not increase, but survival did increase when the temperature was lowered from 28 to 18 °C. The data suggest that poultry growers should consider stacking broiler litter for a reasonable period of time (> 8 days) to eliminate fecal coliforms in runoff from landspread broiler litter.