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Animal Science and Forages > ASF Blog > Posts > What is chicken litter really worth on June 30, 2011?

With the ever-increasing cost of commercial fertilizer, many Alabamians are looking for cheaper alternatives to fit the nutrient needs of their farming enterprises. Chicken litter, specifically broiler litter, is often the first option they consider. Alabama ranks third in broiler production in the United States. With over 178 million broilers produced annually, there is a huge volume of litter that is also produced. However, there are a variety of factors that make litter harder to get than in years past, namely demand. This increase in demand has led many to question how much litter is really worth.

In order to get an idea of litter worth, we would begin by sampling to get the actual nutrient composition of the litter in question, in addition to regular soil sampling. This is considered a standard Best Management Practice (BMP) for all animal feeding operations (AFO). Realize that actual values can vary greatly from one farm to another, so it is always best to have a current analysis. Be sure that you understand how to interpret your soil sample report correctly as well.

Photo credit: Dr. Charles Mitchell, Extension Agronomist

We will use the average value of 3-3-2 for our cost comparison. Several spreadsheets have been developed to calculate the value of litter. By entering the litter analysis and cash market fertilizer prices, you can quickly compare the costs. The Alabama Weekly Livestock Summary includes a range for fertilizer prices each week and is the source for those prices. It is important to note that this assumes a low phosphorous value from your soil test report. The results are listed below.

Fertilizer Value of Broiler Litter – June 30, 2011

Average Broiler Litter (3-3-2), per ton: $98.91, per truckload (5-ton avg.): $494.56

 

There are probably no producers paying that much for litter at this time. Obviously, it is being discounted for some reason, so we will discuss that topic in a future post. For more information, contact your local County Extension Office or Kent Stanford directly at stanfmk@auburn.edu or call (256)557-1206.

 


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