Our bedding is a combination of wood shavings and oat hulls. We use wood shavings in the brooder house, where the baby turkeys (poults) live until they’re a few weeks old.
Some of the wood shavings are a waste product from nearby lumber mill but most come from Misty Meadows in Wisconsin. Misty Meadows specializes in wood shavings for dairy and poultry.
(Unloading fresh wood shavings)
In the finishers, the main part of the bedding is made up of oat hulls from Grain Millers, Inc. in St. Ansgar, IA. After we move the poults to the finishers, we also move the wood shavings. The brooder bedding is spread on top of the oat hulls.
(Moving wood shavings from brooder to finishers)The oat hulls stay nice and loose, enabling the turkeys to kick it around and nest in it if they want. It also helps keep their feet and legs in good condition. Otherwise, if there is wet, poopy bedding, their foot pads can develop sores. So good quality bedding is very important for the birds.
(Adam playing in the oat hulls. See how fluffy they are?)When the flock finally goes to market, Bart uses a couple of different machines to “skim” the bedding. He uses manure forks on his skid loader to pile up the manure cake, and then uses a specialized litter separator to filter manure from the reusable bedding. He lifts up sections of the bedding, shakes it, and the clean bedding falls back to the barn floor to be reused, while the manure is loaded into a semi.
But that’s not the end of the turkey litter’s lifecycle. Turkey manure is full of nutrients (just like other livestock manure) and it would be a shame to throw that away! The litter is taken to a compost facility where it is processed into beautiful, sustainable fertilizer for fields.
This graphic is an excellent visual showing how the turkey manure cycle works!