Ammonia Control Research

Growers know the importance of good litter quality in achieving top broiler performance.  Reuse of litter in built-up systems puts more emphasis on managing litter carefully to benefit bird health and performance.  Good litter management helps insure anoptimum environment for broilers from animal welfare (pawquality), air quality (ammonia), and economic (performance) standpoints.  The advent of chemical and microbiological litter treatments have added important tools to aid growers in providing high quality litter and air for young birds; therefore, litter treatments have found their place in starting birds off on a healthy foot.  Practical research in the Department compared litter treatments for efficacy and delineated how long ammonia control lasts.

More recently, the use of “feed-through” products has emerged as another potential means of ammonia control.  Recent departmental research showed that an elemental sulfur product, when fed at relatively low levels to laying hens, substantially reduced ammonia levels in manure, and preliminary research suggests that similar effects may be achievable in broilers on litter.

Because heating can affect litter quality, field research has been done to determine how heating broiler houses with wood pellet burning furnaces affects litter quality.  Data collected over several years indicate that heating with a wood pellet burning furnace can reduce house humidity and lead to lower ammonia levels. 

It is unlikely that litter treatments alone will be the total solution to ammonia control in poultry production.  Good broiler litter management to maintain dry litter continues to be the main factor in ammonia control. Cold weather heating systems such as wood pellet burning furnaces may be another tool for growers to utilize to maintain broiler health and performance.