Chicken litter feeding ban
Feeding chicken litter and any other material containing chicken faeces to ruminants, pigs and poultry is banned in Queensland. It is illegal for ruminants, pigs or poultry other than those that formed the litter or faeces to be given access to chicken litter and other material containing chicken faeces. Livestock farmers must take every reasonable measure to deny access to chicken litter and chicken faeces.
Chicken litter and chicken faeces contain animal material that must not be fed to ruminants (restricted animal material, RAM) and that must not be fed to pigs (prohibited feed for pigs and poultry) under national feed bans. These bans reduce the risk to Australia of introducing and potentially spreading foot-and-mouth disease and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as mad cow disease).
Denying all livestock access to these materials, whether ruminants, pigs, poultry, horses or other animals, can also protect the animals' health. Chicken litter and faeces are a potential cause of significant livestock illnesses such as botulism and salmonellosis.
The ban applies to all ruminants, pigs and poultry (other than those that formed the litter or faeces).
- birds of the order Galliformes (including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, partridge, quail, guineafowl, peafowl)
Chicken faeces are the chickens' droppings - the waste discharge from their gastrointestinal tracts. The bans on what ruminants, pigs and other poultry may be fed include any material that contains or has been in contact with chicken faeces.
Chicken faeces includes:
- chicken litter used in broiler houses
- faeces and surrounding material (e.g. dirt and spilt feed) collected from under the cages of layer birds or from any other farm system where chicken faeces or litter is produced or collected.
When chickens are raised on the ground in broiler houses, a layer of material (often fine wood shavings) is used to cover the ground to give the birds a suitable surface. This litter absorbs much of the birds' faeces (manure). It may also contain spilt chicken feed. The litter is renewed regularly and the old material is often used as fertiliser.
The Biosecurity Act 2014 bans the feeding of RAM to ruminants and the feeding of prohibited feed for pigs and poultry to pigs and poultry.
The definitions of RAM and prohibited feed for pigs and poultry include the faeces of birds.
The feed bans mean that a person must not:
- feed chicken faeces, including chicken litter, to ruminants, pigs or poultry
- possess chicken faeces, including chicken litter, for the purpose of feeding it to ruminants, pigs or poultry
- give ruminants, pigs or poultry access to chicken faeces, including chicken litter, or fail to take every reasonable measure to prevent them gaining access
- supply chicken faeces, including chicken litter, to someone else for the purpose of feeding it to ruminants, pigs or poultry.
Chicken litter or chicken faeces and other animal manures can be used to fertilise pastures; however, you must take every reasonable measure to ensure that the livestock grazing on the pasture cannot gain access to the chicken litter or chicken faeces, either while it is being stored or once applied to the pasture.
When spreading chicken litter or chicken faeces over the pasture, you must ensure that ruminants, pigs and poultry are not able to graze or roam the pasture during the actual spreading or while the litter or faeces are still available on the pasture. Livestock should be withheld from the pasture until the litter or faeces has been sufficiently incorporated (e.g. by ploughing or by rain and pasture growth) to ensure the organic fertiliser will not be eaten.
As a general guide, excluding ruminants from treated pasture for 3 weeks may allow enough rain and pasture growth to minimise the risk of animals ingesting RAM. However, longer exclusion periods will be needed if rain is scarce or pasture growth is slow.
Complying with the feed bans will:
- minimise the survival of disease agents (pathogens) on the pasture
- enable pasture regrowth in response to fertilisation, which reduces the potential for the direct ingestion of contaminated litter by grazing animals
- reduce palatability problems of the pasture/crop that could result from components of the chicken litter or chicken faeces.
Owners should also consider botulism vaccinations for cattle that regularly graze pastures where chicken litter or chicken faeces has been used.
Chicken litter or chicken faeces can be stored on a farm; however, if the farm or a nearby farm has livestock, you must take all reasonable measures to deny the livestock any access to the stored material.
Examples of reasonable measures include:
- stockpiling the material in an enclosed, well fenced area on the property (a barbed wire or electrified fence should be considered)
- enclosing the material in a shed on the property and securing it so that livestock cannot enter the shed.
There may be other effective ways to prevent animals having access to stored material.
Chicken litter or chicken faeces can be removed from the farm. Professional contractors can arrange to take the material off your farm for you. These contractors supply chicken litter to a range of end users, such as organic fertiliser manufacturers, turf farms and other farmers.
If you decide to remove chicken litter or chicken faeces from the farm yourself and supply it to someone else, you cannot supply it to another person for the purpose of feeding it to their livestock under Queensland legislation.
- Poultry - don’t feed swill, it's against the law
- Pigs – don’t feed swill, it’s against the law
- Ruminants – don’t feed restricted animal material (RAM), it’s against the law
- Overview of the ruminant feed ban
- Disposal of food waste
- The ban on feeding swill to pigs
- Using chicken litter in pasture production