Despite the paucity of literature about chicken litter safety for land application little is known about the safety of chicken litter for land application and general release into the environment.
This waste is potentially important for land application as an organic fertilizer because of its relatively high nutrient content especially nitrogen, attributable to inherently high levels of protein and amino acids .
Chicken litter is a mixture of chicken feces, feathers, bedding materials and spilt feeds, drugs, and water etc. is also contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasitic protozoa, and helminthes; antibiotics and pathogenic microbes with antibiotic-resistant genes; heavy metals; growth and sex hormones such as estrogen, specifically 17 beta estradiol, and testosterone; and pesticides such as dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Pathogenic bacteria in chicken litter and chicken litter-based organic fertilizer.
E. coli , Salmonella , Campylobacter , Staphylococcus, Clostridium , Listeria, Actinobacillus, Mycobacterium etc.
These are highly pathogenic bacteria with health devastating effects in humans and livestock . and the potential to widely spread in the environment both vertically and horizontally, implying that they can have devastating human and environment health as well as economic problems .
Staphyloccocus aureus* infects humans through air, water, and crop farms .
Clostridium botulinum* is transmitted to cattle when the animals eat toxin-containing spores of the bacterium that may be found in soils or decomposing carcasses of birds in chicken litter.
Clostridium perfrigenes* is picked from contaminated soils and human and animal feces or waste that may come with bedding materials or feed ingredients .
Listeria monocytogenes* infection (listriosis) is mainly through ingestion of contaminated produce following soil application of contaminated chicken litter.
L. monocytogenes* , although not absorbed by plants, stick to roots and plant surfaces . thereby contaminating vegetables, edible fruits, and root crops from agricultural land where chicken litter has been applied.
Fungi, helminthes, protozoa, and viruses in chicken litter
Fungi such as Histoplasma capsulatum Aspergillus spp. , Penicillum spp. , Fusarium spp.
Infective Parasites viz. Heliminth ova (Ascaris spp. & Tenia spp.) , Protozoa (Cryptosporidium & Giardia spp.)
Viruses etc, HPAI , H5NI strain
Antibiotics in poultry litter
Fluoroquinolones, which include ciprofloxacin, danofloxacin, difloxacin, enrofloxacin, fleroxacin, lomefloxacin, and norfloxacin etc.
Sulfonamides that entail sulfachloropyradazine, sulfadiazine, sulfadimidine, sulfaguanidine,
sulfamerazine, sulfomethoxazole, sulfamonomethoxine, and sulfanilamide.etc.
Tetracyclines, which encompass chlortetracycline, doxycycline, methacycline, oxytetracycline,
fluoroquinolones, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines.
The presence of antibiotics, especially those that kill pathogens in chicken litter and are broad spectrum, may distort major biological processes in soil upon application of the litter, including development of antibiotic resistance, which can affect humans, livestock, fish, and wildlife .
Some antibiotics such as chlortetracycline are adsorbed onto food crops such as vegetables (green onion and cabbage) and corn in levels increasing with soil contamination .
Upon land application of antibiotics-loaded chicken litter, some of the antibiotics are easily leached through the soil to groundwater and adjacent water sources, thereby affecting non-target organisms
Pesticides in poultry litter
Rabon, Zoalene, Unistat, Nicarbazin, Furazolidone, Nitrofurazone, and Cyromazin etc. incorporated in poultry diets to destroy insects at their larval stage in chicken bedding have also been detected in broiler litter in concentrations increasing with the chemical amounts, use frequencies, retention and stability and composting stage of the litter meaning it can also enter the water systems.
Heavy metals in poultry litter
In poultry production, heavy metals, including arsenic (As), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), selenium (Se), and zinc (Zn) are added to feeds in the form of minerals such as zinc oxide and manganese oxide in various formulations for disease prevention and feed conversion efficiency for the purpose of improving weight gain and egg production . To maximize gains poultry famers commonly feed birds, especially broilers, on higher levels of the elements, particularly cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and arsenic (As) etc.
The presence of heavy metals in chicken litter such as Cu, Fe, Mn, Co, Mo, Zn, and perhaps nickel (Ni) and selenium (Se) required for plant growth could make chicken litter a rich source of micro-nutrients. However, the high concentrations of Cd, Pb, As, and Hg pose serious health risks to animals, plants, and environmental health. In humans, ingestion of As beyond the MPL, for example more than 10 g/L in drinking water, may induce malnutrition; upper gastro-intestinal, reproductive, lung, and skin cancers; neurological and hormonal defects; Cd causes kidney, liver, and brain damage, and is carcinogenic; Hg and Pb cause fatal brain damage; and Co results in sterility .
Land application of heavy-metal-contaminated chicken litter in large quantities, or repeatedly, may exacerbate heavy metal pollution
Growth hormones in poultry litter :
In chicken litter, there are also sex hormones such as estrogen, specifically 17 beta estradiol and testosterone, excreted through chicken urine and feces, with a negative effect on reproduction in aquatic organisms such as fish .
In brief "Poultry Litter " is not safe for land application as fertilizer !