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March 2020 Newsletter; Practical Litter Updates

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Catawba Valley Cattlemen’s Association
(meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month)
This month’s meeting is on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at the Extension Center in Lincolnton (James Warren Citizens Center [West of the Court House]).
GPS Address:115 West Main Street,
 Lincolnton, North Carolina

Meeting Agenda
*****5:00 p.m. – First half of Educational Program**********

6:00 p.m. – Supper is served.
6:20 p.m. – Business meeting – Mr. Brandon Bowman, president
7:00 p.m.  – 2nd Half of Educational Program:
Speakers: Dr. Jon Havlin (Soil Professor) and Mrs. Lauren Greene (Western Carolina Poultry Specialist)
8:00 p.m. – Meeting adjourned.


  • Sheep/Goat Show Friday @ 5 p.m., June 21.
  • Beef Expo Saturday 10:30 a.m. June 22. Showmanship 10:30 a.m., Lunch. Burgers prepared by CVCA. Heifer Show @ 1 p.m. Dairy Steer Show following the heifer show.

Article : Practical Litter Updates

Utilizing poultry litter as a fertilizer source is a great way to recycle a farm byproduct. By applying litter to your farm land or pastures, you can also cut down on overall fertilizer costs, if you are producing the litter yourself and aren’t purchasing it from someone. Most people want to know, “How much litter should I be applying?” There’s really only one way to know, and that is by have the litter analyzed for its nutrient content. This will give you an exact measurement of what all is in the litter. The information in that analysis, combined with your soil test, is all you need in order to know how much litter to spread on your crop. This is especially helpful for producers who are spreading on something other than pasture land and hay, where nutrient management may need to be more specific. By applying litter to your pastures at the correct agronomic rates, you are ensuring a high quality food source for your animals. And we all know, healthy animals are what you’re after. Happy spreading! Lauren Greene, Western North Carolina Poultry Specialist.

Poultry fertilizer can be successfully used on many crops. A successful utilization program includes the following:
1)Obtaining a soil test for application fields.

2) Calculating crop nutrient requirements

3)Obtaining manure nutrient analysis.

4)Ensuring proper application rates.

The nutrient content of poultry litter varies with the type and size of bird that was grown on the litter, the bedding material that was used, and the age of the litter. Fresh broiler litter average around 20-30 lb plant available nitrogen/ton, 40-60 lb phosphorus (as P2O5) and Potassium or potash (as K2O)/ton.

Not all of the nutrients in litter are immediately available for plant use. Most of the nitrogen in litter is in an organic form (around 89%), but poultry litter also contains ammonium (about 9%) and a small amount of nitrate (about 2%). The inorganic nitrogen (ammonium and nitrate) can be immediately used by plants. Organic nitrogen is not available to plants until it is converted to ammonium or nitrate by microorganisms in the soil. Because this is a biological process, the rate of conversion depends on soil moisture and temperature. One advantage of litter for pastures is that the slow conversion of organic to inorganic nitrogen distributes available nitrogen more evenly over the growing season. However, hot, dry, conditions will cause nitrogen to evaporate and be lost.
As a rule of thumb, broiler litter application rates should not exceed 3 ton per acre for row crops, and for pasture and hay crops such as tall fescue should be close to 1 ton/acre. Don’t apply more than 3 tons/acre on grass for 2 reasons. 1) Because on average in litter, phosphorus is in equal amounts as nitrogen while fescue (any grass) requires about 4 times as much nitrogen as phosphorus. Spread based on the needs of phosphorus and finish out using commercial fertilizer to meet your nitrogen needs to avoid contaminating water sources.
2) For fescue, too much phosphorus and potash will increase tetany problems and will result in nutritional imbalances for cattle that can severely impact animal health and even cause death.

Due to the potential of poultry litter getting into our water, Water Resources Environmental Quality has regulations in place requiring a Nutrient Management Plan and keeping some records in order to spread litter on our land. Lauren Greene will go over the minimum requirements to avoid fines for applying litter to our fields. Glenn Detweiler,
Area Livestock Agent, Catawba & Lincoln.