Poultry Dust: Its Danger and How to Control It
Many poultry farmers take the adverse effect of poultry dust with levity, without taking any serious steps to cushion its effect on health.
Staff is exposed to many different airborne particles that are known collectively as poultry dust.
Constant and excessive exposure to poultry sheds, litter, materials, and equipment can harm the respiratory system of a farmworker, which consists of the nose, throat, airways, and lungs.
Poultry farm workers can experience a range of mild to moderate symptoms, as a result of their exposure to varying degrees of dust.
Ranging from a sore throat, irritated eyes, and flu-like symptoms to coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, etc. This may lead to serious diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis
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Poultry dust in simple terms refers to dust emanating from poultry shed as a result of the various poultry activities.
When people work in poultry houses they breathe in a host of different airborne particles, which collectively are referred to as poultry dust.
Factors affecting the composition of Poultry dust include:
- Species of birds
- Design of the poultry house
- Frequency of cleaning
- Types of equipment used automated or manual system of operation.
- The type of litter used
- Litter management.
- Stocking density.
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Activities That Generate Poultry Dust
Certain activities are capable of generating potentially harmful dust at high concentrations as such poultry farm-workers are to prepare and protect themselves during such farm activities.
- The raking and turning of litter bedding material
- During vaccination periods
- Cleaning, installation of certain poultry equipment and materials
- Routine maintenance
- Culling, sampling, and separation of birds for sale and treatment
- Catching and depopulation
- Litter and manure removal after each batch.
Poultry dust may consist of:
- Either organic and inorganic components coming from various bedding material
- Faecal material
- dander (dead skin)
- fungi and fungi spores
- micro-organisms such as bacteria, molds, and endotoxins. Etc.
Symptoms associated with poultry dust
When consistently exposed, it can harm your respiratory system (nose, throat, airways, and lungs).
This may lead to poultry farmworkers experiencing a range of symptoms which includes
- a sore throat
- shortness of breath
- Workers may also experience flu-like symptoms.
How to Minimize and Control Poultry Dust
- Well ventilated poultry shed should be constructed to encourage healthy and fresh air in the poultry shed.
- Routine maintenance, cleaning, and removal of poultry waste should be maintained. To avoid the accumulation of dust and waste.
- Instead, use low-dust practices for cleaning and maintaining machinery and equipment, e.g wash or use vacuum cleaners and avoid blowers.
- Wherever possible, introduce procedures that minimize dust production, e.g employing the use of vacuuming and wet cleaning such as mopping or if the poultry shed is too dry and dusty you can sprinkle water on it to reduce the incidence of dust.
- For larger operations always switch on ventilation fans to create the required airflow during the different stages of litter placement/laying.
- The right bedding and litter material should be used.
- Good litter management should be encouraged to increase good microbes that are beneficial to the birds.
- Poultry farm-workers should be educated and mandated to use respiratory protective equipment RPE.
- Any means of catching birds that will help in reducing high dust generation should be employed e.g caching and packaging birds with dim light or at night will reduce high activities.
- As a poultry farm owner whenever you are spreading, changing, raking, and removing litter all your farmworkers should be giving good respiratory protective equipment that fits their faces and is very effective.
- Those without protective equipment should not be allowed near the poultry shed.