How sustainable practices in poultry waste management can help shape the future?

How Sustainable Practices in Poultry Waste Management Can Help Shape the Future?

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As India’s poultry sector is taking a giant stride since the late 70s, fueling the nation’s economy and employment, it is also accused of causing some serious environmental adversities. Hence poultry waste management has become a top priority to ensure environmental well-being and make sustainable use of waste to wealth. The fastest-growing poultry sector of India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.2% between 2021-2026, confirming a spectacular shift from a mere backyard activity into a major commercial player. However, this promising forecast also confirms the discharge of a greater volume of poultry waste that needs to be managed responsibly for the greater good. 

Poultry waste as it sounds is not actually waste, but if treated properly can add to economic prosperity and environmental well-being. The poultry sector in India currently generates approximately 3.30 million tonnes of waste per year, which is expected to rise in sync with this booming livestock sector. Also known as hatchery waste, mainly includes poultry litter, feather waste, empty shells, dead embryos, hatchery debris, spilled feed, blood, decaying tissues, and so on. Mismanagement or improper handling of this waste can lead to enormous pollution problems as well as risking human health and ecological balance. 

Poultry Waste Impact on Health and Environment

Unattended accumulation of huge amounts of poultry waste leads to environmental annoyances that are hazardous to human and natural health. Poorly managed poultry farms are often linked to degrading air quality because of the emission of high atmospheric ammonia from poultry litter. Poultry litter and manure play a pivotal role in propelling global warming with the release of greenhouse gasses such as nitrous oxide, CO2, and CH4. Long-term exposure to this waste leads to detrimental impact on human health, causing allergies, and acute respiratory syndrome besides contaminating the air, soil, and water.

Inappropriate handling of poultry litter can cause infections such as zoonotic avian influenza. Generally, poultry waste loaded with different pathogens when discharged into the water bodies causes heavy metal pollution and consumption of this untreated water causes deadly diseases like typhoid, cholera, to name a few.

Uncontrolled burying of poultry waste in the land does more harm than enhance soil fertility. It has been tested that long-term deposition of poultry waste into the soil causes accumulation of metals, leading to soil toxicity.

To curb this potential contamination challenge in India, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), released a fresh set of guidelines, addressing structural changes towards a sustainable future.

Embrace sustainable poultry waste management with CPCB guidelines

The fresh guidelines issued in 2020 replaced the previous regulations of farm waste that were only applicable to farms with 1 lac or more birds. The current regulation applies to any farms handling more than 5000 birds from 1st January 2023 onwards. 

So, let’s dive in for a sneak peek at the sustainable management of poultry waste like feces, manure, bone, blood, and carcasses by the CPCB as a way to recycle waste into wealth. The sustainable approaches for handling litter, carcasses, and other solid wastes are as follows:

  • The collected manure must be kept in a well-ventilated space to facilitate adequate air movement to keep the manure dry and odor at bay
  • The hatchery needs to be adequately ventilated to minimize humidity and nullify the formation of gasses
  • Manure collected in storage pits must be sealed to prevent the spreading of stench and keep out dust and run-off water
  • Poultry droppings must be removed from the bedding at least once every 2 days to ensure a healthy ambiance for the flock
  • The farm owners and workers must keep a dotting watch to identify sick birds and collect the dead ones that must be transported to distant places and disposed of carefully
  • For small poultry farm owners, composting is a sustainable way to get rid of manure
  •  Mid or large-size poultry businesses can recycle the manure to produce biogas

What are some sustainable approaches to poultry waste management for a promising tomorrow?

Sustainable poultry waste management:

  1.   Poultry litter is considered excellent manure to enhance crop production for centuries. Damage happens when uncontrolled and untreated poultry manure is applied surpassing the crop’s capacity to utilize the nutrients. Hence it is important that the litter should be properly collected, stored, handled, and treated to make the best use of the manure. 

Experts recommend using non-liquid flush systems for treating poultry manure, which means that the storage area or pit must be kept dry as possible to nullify aerial emission of gases and must be protected from rain run-off. Composting is a biological process to break down organic matter and enhance the nutrient content like phosphorus and nitrogen in the manure while reducing pathogens, weed seeds, and odor with the heat generated during the process.

  1. Livestock and poultry diets can be reprocessed from poultry litter. With advanced treatment of poultry feces, feathers, and offal, value-added feeding ingredients are processed. Poultry feathers are rich in protein, particularly keratin. Through a process called hydrolysis, the feathers can be converted into a feather meal, which is a protein-rich feed ingredient. Feather meals can be used as a source of amino acids in livestock diets, providing essential nutrients for animals. Poultry offal, such as organs, heads, feet, and intestines, can be rendered and processed into poultry by-product meal. This by-product meal is a nutritious source of protein, fat, and minerals for livestock.

Using poultry feathers and offal in livestock feed production helps to reduce waste, minimizes environmental pollution, and creates additional revenue streams for poultry producers. However, it’s essential to ensure that the processing methods and feed formulations adhere to safety standards and regulatory guidelines to guarantee the quality and safety of the final feed product. Additionally, proper storage and handling practices must be implemented to prevent contamination and maintain feed quality throughout the supply chain.

  1. Bioenergy production from poultry waste is an effective and sustainable way to convert organic materials, such as poultry manure and by-products, into renewable energy sources. Generating renewable energy from poultry waste leads us to a sustainable future and provides the following benefits:
  • Waste Management: Bioenergy production helps in the proper management of poultry waste, reducing its environmental impact and potential for pollution.
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Anaerobic digestion and other bioenergy production methods capture methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which helps in mitigating climate change.
  • Cost Savings: Generating energy from poultry waste can offset conventional energy costs for farmers or poultry producers, providing potential cost savings in the long term.
  • Circular Economy: Bioenergy production creates a closed-loop system, where waste is converted into valuable resources, promoting a circular economy approach.
  • Reduced Odor: Bioenergy production processes, especially anaerobic digestion, can help reduce the odor associated with poultry waste.

Conclusion: The poultry farming sector is expected to create a market value of 44.97 billion USD by 2028, while the poultry by-product industry is set to usher in an economic boom when managed responsibly. In India, the CPCB has already issued proven approaches for sustainable poultry waste management to encourage both government and poultry farm owners to work together in creating awareness through various initiatives and tutorial programs. Overall, adopting sustainable practices in poultry waste management aligns with the broader goals of environmental protection, resource efficiency, and responsible agriculture. By shaping a future that prioritizes sustainability, we can create a more resilient and balanced relationship between poultry farming and the environment.