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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Safe Management and Use of Manure, Biosolids, and Industrial Byproducts

Location: Genetics and Precision Agriculture Research

Title: Poultry litter moisture management to reduce ammonia

Author
item MILES, DANA

Submitted to: World Wide Web
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: April 3, 2012
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Citation: Miles, D.M. 2012. Poultry litter moisture management to reduce ammonia. World Wide Web. http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Program/212/LivestockGRACEnet/LitterMoisture.pdf.

Interpretive Summary: Ammonia generation in poultry houses results from the natural breakdown of litter (bedding material that covers the facility floor, such as pine wood chips or rice hulls, with deposits of feces, feathers, spilled feed and water). Good management practices can reduce ammonia in poultry houses. This factsheet relates findings from a recent publication that shows 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 (walls, ceilings, and equipment). Attaining lower litter moisture can be accomplished with minimal additional cost to the grower. Improved profits from improved production can be substantial. For 50 ppm ammonia exposure, body weights of 7 week old birds were reduced by 0.5 lb compared to 25 ppm ammonia. Applying 2010 production statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service says that increasing average broiler weight by just 0.1 lb in 10% of U.S. companies would boost grower profits by $41.5 million.

Technical Abstract: Ammonia generation in poultry houses results from the natural breakdown of litter (bedding material mixed with deposits of feces, feathers, spilled feed and water). Good management practices can reduce ammonia concentrations in poultry houses. This factsheet relates findings from a recent publication that shows 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. Improved profits from improved production can be substantial. For 50 ppm ammonia exposure, body weights of 7 week old birds were reduced by 0.5 lb compared 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: 9/10/2014