Within-House Spatial Distribution of Fecal Indicator Bacteria in Poultry Litter. Academic Article uri icon


  • Land application of poultry litter is often considered to be a major source of water pollutants in poultry-producing regions. However, reported levels of fecal indicator microorganisms in litter vary widely, with considerable variation possible within houses and across farms, depending on management practices. Therefore, a study was conducted to determine the levels and distribution of indicator microorganisms within 12 broiler farms representing three companies. Within each house, litter samples were collected from around the feed line, water line, north wall, cool pad end, middle, and fan end. Litter moisture content was significantly different within the houses, with the litter being driest around the feed line (19.8%) and wettest around the water line (40.7%). Mean levels of total coliforms, , enterococci, and were 3.7, 3.3, 6.4, and 4.0 log colony-forming units g dry litter, respectively. Levels of total coliforms, , and were positively correlated with litter moisture content, but enterococci levels were not. Consequently, levels of total coliforms, , and , as well as enterococci, were highest around the water line and lowest around the feed line. These results indicate that areas with higher litter water content are more likely to contain higher levels of most fecal indicator microorganisms. Approaches to reduce litter water content in these areas would not only benefit the microbial quality of litter for land application but would also likely improve in-house disease control.

published proceedings

  • J Environ Qual

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Winkler, S., Coufal, C., Harmel, D., Martin, E., Brooks, J. P., Popham, S., & Gentry, T. J.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Winkler, Scott||Coufal, Craig||Harmel, Daren||Martin, Emily||Brooks, John P||Popham, Sheena||Gentry, Terry J

publication date

  • September 2017