Why Windrow? Set-Up, Annihilate and Repopulate

Whether you clean out, cake out, till or windrow, you know managing litter can be a bulk of your operation. If you windrow by choice or mandate, you may wonder if it really makes a difference, or maybe you have become curious with the growing popularity of the windrow method. In this Poultry Biosecurity Ed series, we will walk you through best practices, use science to explain the benefits and share why YOU should do it too! 

"Why Windrow?” kicks off our 4-week series on the popular approach in commercial broiler poultry farming—windrowing. Allen talks about the specific type of bacteria responsible for wreaking havoc in your poultry house and then dives into the major benefits of the windrow method. 

Whether you clean out, cake out, till or windrow, you know managing litter can be a bulk of your operation. If you windrow by choice or mandate, you may wonder if it really makes a difference, or maybe you have become curious with the growing popularity of the windrow method. In this Poultry Biosecurity Ed series, we will walk you through best practices, use science to explain the benefits and share why YOU should do it too! 

 

 

"Keys to Windrow Success, Part 1: Set Up" is the second video in our Poultry Biosecurity Windrow Series. Our good friend and poultry farmer, Jason Jackson, takes us to ground zero with best practices for setting up windrows. Following these guidelines will prepare you for the next step in the windrow process, and you will be well on your way to winning the fight against bad bacteria.

If you’ve been in commercial poultry for more than a few weeks, you’ve likely heard of or been required to windrow in your house. It can take a lot of time and energy. Maybe you know what to do and have it down to a science, but you don’t quite know WHY you do it. That’s why we’re here.

When the poultry industry went antibiotic-free, a giant mess of problems arose from seemingly every layer of your house—from the floor to the birds to even the air you breathe. All of these problems find their roots in the same place—bad bacteria overgrowth. Windrowing helps annihilate the bad bacteria. Windrowing is the first step in biosecurity of your house. Though it may seem tedious, when done consistently and correctly, annihilating bad bacteria begins the process of building a foundational firewall against all sorts of disease in your house.

Don't forget—a healthy floor is a healthy bird!

As Jason Jackson discusses in the video, the target temperature to kill bacteria is 135°. Additionally, you should aim for your windrow piles to be 4–5 ft. wide and 3 ft. tall with a moisture content level of 30–35%. By using a strategic application of temperature, proper depth and width, and correct moisture levels, your windrows will be set up for success. But, there are additional important steps for maximum bacteria annihilation. 

 

"Keys to Windrow Success, Part 2: Annihilate" is the third video in our Poultry Biosecurity Windrow Series. In our last video, we discussed how to set your windrow up for success through balancing your key components of temperature, width, depth and moisture. Now Jason Jackson takes us even deeper into best practices for successful windrows through the explanation of turning. Following these guidelines will help you maximize bacteria annihilation in your windrows which, as we learned in our earlier videos, is the goal!

As Jason explains in the video, timing and proper temperature are essential in processing windrows. The ideal temperature for annihilating bacteria is 135° but to kill the maximum amount of bacteria, you must ensure every part of the litter reaches this temperature. This is why we turn windrows.

When the core heat of a windrow pile peaks around 12–24 hours, it will slowly start to cool. Heat then begins to transfer from the center to the outside layer. You must turn the windrows from the outside to the inside 3 to 4 days after the initial formation to help ensure each part of the pile reaches ideal annihilation temperature.

Completing a minimum of two heat cycles is recommended, but sometimes you will not have enough time between flocks to turn twice. Just remember to allow a few days for the litter to dry and ammonia to dissipate.

As good as maximum bacteria annihilation sounds—you have just gotten rid of the good with the bad. A clean slate is the perfect environment for bad bacteria to take over. You need to repopulate the good, natural defenses. We talk all about that in the next video.

 

"Keys to Windrow Success, Part 3: Repopulate" is the final video in our Poultry Biosecurity Windrow Series.

Our previous videos have explained the scientific reason behind why we windrow, the keys for properly setting up, and the benefits of turning windrows for maximum bacteria annihilation, but the most important step in securing your poultry house will be discussed today.

We conclude this Poultry Biosecurity series with a focus on strengthening your poultry house all the way down to the molecular level by preventing the bad bacteria from returning.

 

 

The first step in this is achieving the right carbon to nitrogen ratio. Poultry farmer, Jason Jackson, explains that this can be especially challenging because of the constant addition of nitrogen through the birds' droppings. You need the right solution of active carbon to challenge the continual nitrogen flow. Southland Organics’ Litter Life uses a biologically active carbon that accelerates decomposition of the litter and helps your house achieve the right balance.

Not only do you need the right carbon to nitrogen ratio to prepare your house for the new flock, but because windrowing wipes out both good and bad bacteria, you need to repopulate your foundation with natural defenses—good bacteria.

Litter Life packs a punch of good bacteria to repopulate your poultry house’s foundation. It is the final step in achieving a healthy floor.

Don't forget—a healthy floor is a healthy bird!

If you need help with your windrow, strengthening your natural defenses or simply would like to learn more, the Southland Organics team is here. Connect with me, Allen Reynolds, at 800-608-3755 or allen@southlandorganics.com. Don’t forget to subscribe because we are constantly adding great, educational content to help you keep your farm healthy!

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Remember, your poultry house is a bacterial battlefield. Biosecurity is the way to win, and we are here to help you in the fight. 

 

 

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