The efficacy of litter management to prevent disease and/or antibiotic use in broiler poultry: A protocol for a systematic review
To control and prevent major causes of disease in broiler production, it is important that contributing risk factors are identified and managed (USAHA, 2017). A crucial part of broiler production is litter management (Chen and Jiang, 2014), which, if managed improperly, leads to higher incidence of disease (Dunlop et al., 2016). Poor litter management is typically observed as excessively wet or dry litter. The development of wet litter is multifactorial, but the main triggers are improper ventilation, bird illness, equipment malfunction, diet composition, and extreme environmental temperatures and humidity. Wet litter (above 25-35% moisture) provides a better medium for pathogenic organisms to thrive (Lister, 2009), is associated with necrotic enteritis outbreaks (Hermans and Morgan, 2007). Wet litter also is associated with 2 higher ammonia levels, which can damage birds’ respiratory lining, and can cause foot pad dermatitis (Shepherd and Fairchild, 2010). Dry litter can lead to dusty conditions which can be an issue with the bird’s, and people’s, respiratory health (Homidan et al., 2003). Typically, many of these causes of morbidity are treated or prevented with antibiotics. As a result, litter management is linked to the use of antimicrobials, which in turn is a driver of antimicrobial resistance. The World Health Organization is urging all stakeholders concerned with both food-producing animals and humans to establish recommended steps to enhance the prudent use of antimicrobials (WHO, 2015). Similarly, the World Animal Health Organization has also published recommendations and position statements regarding prudent use and risk management related to antimicrobial use in animals (OIE, 2017).