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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Mitchell, Bailey
item Richardson, Jason
item Wilson, Jeanna
item Hofacre, Charles

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/18/2003
Publication Date: 2/1/2004
Citation: Mitchell, B.W., Richardson, J., Wilson, J., Hofacre, C. 2004. Application Of An Electrostatic Space Charge System For Dust, Ammonia And Pathogen Reduction In A Broiler Breeder House. Applied Engineering in Agriculture v.20 p.87-93 2004.

Interpretive Summary: Airborne dust in poultry housing is known to be one of the primary means by which disease causing organisms are spread throughout a house. Efforts to reduce food safety related organisms such as Salmonella in poultry flocks are best begun at the source, which is the broiler-breeder house. Clean, fertile eggs from the broiler-breeder house will result in cleaner chicks placed at the production house and potentially in cleaner birds at the processing plant. An ARS engineer at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Georgia and researchers at the University of Georgia were able to reduce airborne dust, ammonia and bacteria in a broiler-breeder house by an average of about 61% using an ARS-developed electrostatic system which charges airborne dust and directs it - along with attached ammonia and bacteria, to litter on the floor. Results of the present study are similar to those obtained with the charging system in poultry hatching cabinets and caged-layer rooms suggesting that it would be applicable to other enclosed animal housing spaces for improving animal health and food safety. All of the applications have potential for improving human health as well.

Technical Abstract: Airborne dust in poultry housing is known to be one of the primary means by which disease causing organisms are spread throughout a house. Reductions in airborne dust levels have been associated with even greater reductions in airborne bacteria. An electrostatic space charge system (ESCS) was used over a several month period to charge airborne dust in a small-scale broiler breeder house and to collect it on litter. The system significantly reduced airborne dust by an average of 61%, ammonia by an average of 56%, and airborne bacteria by 67 %. The ESCS was shown to be a reliable and easily maintained system for reducing airborne dust, ammonia and bacteria in a small broiler breeder house. Based on earlier studies in which the ESCS reduced airborne disease transmission in poultry hatchers and controlled environment cabinets, it is reasonable to expect that airborne disease transmission would be reduced in the present study as well. Technically, similar results with the ESCS in other enclosed spaces such as full-sized production houses should result if the system is scaled up. In addition to improving food safety, the system should improve air quality for animals and animal caretakers, and the potential for reduced immune response due to high ammonia levels would be reduced.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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