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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Safe Management and Use of Manure, Biosolids, and Industrial Byproducts Title: Critical litter moisture maximizes ammonia generation

Author
item Miles, Dana

Submitted to: Emerging Trends: A newsletter of the Mississippi Poultry Association
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: November 29, 2012
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Citation: Miles, D.M. 2012. Critical litter moisture maximizes ammonia generation. Emerging Trends: A newsletter of the Mississippi Poultry Association. 4:22-23.

Interpretive Summary: The natural breakdown of litter (bedding material mixed with deposits of feces, feathers, spilled feed and water) generates ammonia in poultry houses. Good management practices can reduce ammonia concentrations in poultry houses. Findings from a recent publication indicate there is a critical litter moisture level at which ammonia generation is maximized. Relative to the findings, the major focus for house and litter management lies with litter moisture control. Growers should manage houses to avoid unnecessary water inputs to the litter by maintaining leak-free watering systems, properly operated evaporative cooling pads, and preventing condensation on interior house surfaces. Attaining lower litter moisture can be accomplished with minimal additional cost to the grower, while profits from improved production can be significant. For 50 ppm ammonia exposure, body weights of 7 week old birds were reduced by 0.5 lb compared to birds exposed to 25 ppm ammonia. Applying 2010 production statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service shows increasing average broiler weight by just 0.1 lb in 10% of U.S. integrators would add $41.5 million to grower profits.

Technical Abstract: The natural breakdown of litter (bedding material mixed with deposits of feces, feathers, spilled feed and water) generates ammonia in poultry houses. Good management practices can reduce ammonia concentrations in poultry houses. Findings from a recent publication indicate there is a critical litter moisture level at which ammonia generation is maximized. Relative to the findings, the major focus for house and litter management lies with litter moisture control. Growers should manage houses to avoid unnecessary water inputs to the litter by maintaining leak-free watering systems, properly operated evaporative cooling pads, and preventing condensation on interior house surfaces. Attaining lower litter moisture can be accomplished with minimal additional cost to the grower, while profits from improved production can be significant. For 50 ppm ammonia exposure, body weights of 7 week old birds were reduced by 0.5 lb compared to birds exposed to 25 ppm ammonia. Applying 2010 production statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service shows increasing average broiler weight by just 0.1 lb in 10% of U.S. integrators would add $41.5 million to grower profits.

Last Modified: 10/30/2014
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