Control of Ammonia in Poultry Litter
Ammonia volatilization from poultry litter commonly causes a buildup of ammonia in the atmosphere of chicken houses that can have a negative impact on both farm workers and birds. The release of this ammonia can also contribute to environ-mental problems such as haze and acid rain.
This study determined the effect of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs), a nontraditional litter amendment, on the control of ammonia volatilization from poultry litter. Ammonia emissions from used poultry litter that contained a 6% level of SAPs were compared to ammonia emissions from untreated litter. Ammonia levels were sampled throughout the life of three flocks of 42-49 day old male broilers without reapplication. Dependent variables measured were weight gain, feed efficiency, litter ammonia levels, moisture, water activity, pH, and final nitrogen content using an RCB design.
Bird performance was not affected (P>0.05) by the SAP litter application compared to the performance of birds raised on untreated litter. However, the 6% SAP litter application reduced (P<0.05) ammonia output by 70.3 and 51.3% throughout the life of flocks one and two, respectively. No significant reduction in ammonia output was detected during the third flock. Similar results were found with the litter pH values. Litter treatments had no significant effect on the water activity of the litter. However, the final nitrogen content of the litter after the first flock was higher (P<0.05) in the 6% SAP treated litter (28.7 mg N/g DM) compared to the nitrogen content of the untreated litter (24.3 mg N/g DM). Unlike the first flock, no differences in the final litter nitrogen content were detected between the 6% SAP litter treatment and the untreated litter after the second and third flocks. Results from these trials indicated that a 6% SAP litter application may be a viable labor-saving alternative to traditional litter amendments to control ammonia emissions in poultry houses.