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. 2018 Jan;47(1):156-161.
doi: 10.2134/jeq2017.08.0301.

Litter Type and Number of Flocks Affect Sex Hormones in Broiler Litter

Litter Type and Number of Flocks Affect Sex Hormones in Broiler Litter

M L Cabrera et al. J Environ Qual. .


Broiler litter contains 17β-estradiol, estrone, and testosterone, which can contaminate surface waters when surface applied to grasslands and no-till fields. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of litter type (full or cake cleanout), litter treatment (none or sodium bisulfate), and number of flocks raised on the litter (1-5) on sex hormone concentrations. Our results showed that in untreated broiler litter, cake cleanout had greater concentrations of 17β-estradiol, estrone, and testosterone than full cleanout, whereas in litter treated with sodium bisulfate, only the concentration of 17β-estradiol was greater in cake than in full cleanout. The concentrations of 17β-estradiol and estrone in untreated broiler litter increased as the number of flocks increased from one to three, with the largest increase observed for estrone in cake cleanout. We also sampled three broiler houses in brooding and nonbrooding sections during the growout period. We found no differences in hormone concentrations between sections of each house, but changes in hormone concentrations during growout varied depending on broiler litter water content. Water contents corresponding to ∼60% water-filled porosity favored a decrease in hormone concentrations with time, whereas a water-filled porosity of 44% was associated with increases in hormone concentration, probably due to slow decomposition rates. Our results suggest that cake cleanout of untreated litter, as well as all cleanouts from houses that have raised several flocks on the same bedding, may be good targets for treatments that can reduce hormone concentrations before the litter is surface applied to fields.

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