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Broiler House Litter Sampling: The Final Frontier

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting  152152501.(doi:10.13031/aim.20152152501)
Authors:   Dana M Miles, John P Brooks, Dennis E. Rowe, Philip A. Moore, Jr., Jeff D. Evans, Johnie N. Jenkins
Keywords:   Broiler, Emissions, Gas Flux, Litter, Nutrients.


Thorough characterization of litter within broiler houses provides end users with the information necessary to optimize litter utilization and their processes. Approximately 1100 samples were assessed within four commercial broiler houses in Mississippi. Results included litter temperature, moisture, and pH, and concentration of litter nutrients and minerals as well as in-situ estimation of NH3, N2O, and CO2 flux from the litter that had been reused for 8 to 30 flocks. Traditional statistics were employed to determine the effects of season, bird age, and half of house. Mean gas fluxes were 477 ± 427 mg NH3 m-2 h-1, 14.9 ± 14.1 mg N2O m-2 h-1, and 13900 ± 10700 mg CO2 m-2 h-1. Litter temperature was 28 ± 5 °C; moisture was 27.8 ± 8.4 %; pH was 8.3 ± 0.4. Overall N content was 2.76 ± 0.54 %. Most minerals had a greater concentration during summer growouts and in the brood half of the houses, There was a trend for decreased litter pH at the mid-flock age and the non-brood (fan) end of the house had greater litter pH overall. Gas flux increased with bird age. Ultimately, the user’s goal for the data will determine its utility. For growers, keeping litter dry is imperative to maintain lower NH3 emissions. For integrators, house structural remodeling and/or mid-flock litter treatment may be required to improve management strategies. For researchers, the data set provides a basis for modeling which is urgently needed to enhance emission estimates. For bulk litter users, the variability of litter characteristics is presented.

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