Digestion of raw feathers in anaerobic digesters inoculated with adapted swine manure, slaughterhouse sludge or dairy manure was investigated using twelve 42-L anaerobic digesters at 25°C. After 120days 74%, 49% and 40% added feathers were converted to methane in swine manure, dairy manure and slaughterhouse sludge anaerobic digesters respectively. 16S rRNA gene clone library analyses identified twenty-one operational taxonomic units containing clone sequences from 5 genera, 5 families and 2 phyla of members of the Archaea from 158 sequenced clones. Fluorescence insitu hybridization revealed that methanogens from the Methanomicrobiales, Methanosarcinales and Methanobacteriales constituted a major fraction (>78%) of these Archaea. A high correlation was seen between the distribution of functional archaeal groups and the NH(3)-N levels of digester mixed liquors. The compositions of archaeal communities fed different substrates were statistically significantly different (P<0.05).