Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2011
Publication Date: 8/26/2011
Citation: Todd, R.W. 2011. Temperature, diet control ammonia loss from feedyards. Popular Publication. American Society of Agronomy. https://www.agronomy.org/.
Technical Abstract: Ammonia that escapes as a gas from beef cattle feedyards can negatively impact sensitive ecosystems and degrade air quality when it reacts with other pollutants in the atmosphere. Ammonia emissions were measured at two cattle feedyards on the Southern High Plains continuously for two years. Annual patterns of ammonia emissions tracked closely with annual patterns of temperature, with greatest ammonia loss during summer and least loss during winter. The greatest losses of ammonia occurred when one of the feedyards fed high crude protein diets that contained distiller's grains, a feed byproduct of ethanol production. Averaged over the two years of the study, 52% and 59% of fed nitrogen was lost as ammonia at the two feedyards. Feeding distiller's grains complicates efforts to reduce ammonia emissions. Fine-tuning cattle diets to feed just the right amount of protein may offer the best management tool to minimize ammonia loss from cattle feedyards.