Ammonia Emissions from Twelve U.S. Broiler Chicken Houses

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Wheeler, Eileen
Casey, Kenneth
Zajaczkowski, Jennifer
Topper, Patrick
Liang, Yi
Pescatore, Anthony
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Xin, Hongwei
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Twelve commercial broiler houses in the U.S. were each monitored for at least thirteen 48 h periods over the course of one year to obtain ammonia emission data. Paired repetition of houses on four farms represents current construction with variety in litter management (built-up or new litter each flock) and climate conditions (cold or mixed-humid). Ammonia concentration was determined using portable electrochemical sensors incorporating a fresh air purge cycle. Ventilation rate was determined via in-situ measurement of fan capacity, fan on-off times, and house static pressure difference. There were seasonal trends in exhaust ammonia concentration (highest in cold weather) and ventilation rates (highest in warm weather) but not for emission rate. Flocks with at least three monitoring periods (13 of 22 flocks) demonstrated similar emission rates at a given bird age among the four study farms and across the seasons. An analysis of emissions from all houses on the three farms using built-up litter resulted in predicted regression slopes of 0.028, 0.034, and 0.038 g NH3 bird-1 d-1 per day of age; the fourth farm, managed with new litter, had the lowest emission rate at 0.024 g NH3 bird-1 d-1. The intercept of these composite relationships was influenced by litter conditions, with flocks on new litter having essentially no emissions for about six days while built-up litter flocks had emissions starting at flock placement. Data from all four farms and all flocks provided a regression slope of 0.031(±0.001 std error) g NH3 bird-1 d-1 per day of age. Emission rate per animal unit for built-up litter flocks indicated very high emissions for the youngest birds (under 14 days of age), after which time the emissions decreased exponentially and were then relatively steady for the balance of the flock cycle.


This article is from Transactions of the ASAE 49, no. 5 (2006): 1495–1512.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2006