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Air Quality in Commercial Broiler Breeder Houses

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

Citation:  2021 ASABE Annual International Virtual Meeting  2100141.(doi:10.13031/aim.202100141)
Authors:   Lilong Chai, Claudia Dunkley, Casey W Ritz
Keywords:   broiler breeders, bedding management, dust, ammonia


Poultry and eggs provide the most valuable protein for human beings and animals. Currently USA is the world‘s largest broiler chicken producer and 2nd largest egg producer. However, poultry & egg production is facing a number of grand challenges associated with environmental quality and animal health. For instance, poultry workers and animals are faced with the challenge of poor air quality in the poultry houses, especially in winter time when house ventilation is limited. Most studies focused on broiler grow-out houses and layer houses in past years, very limited works have been conducted in commercial broiler breeder‘s houses, where parents produce hatchery eggs of broiler chicks. Animals in breeder houses are similar to cage-free or free-range laying hen houses, where animals produce eggs up to 80 weeks of age and can performance natural behaviors such as dustbathing and foraging freely. The objectives of this study were to monitor the dust and ammonia levels in commercial broiler breeder houses in Georgia (the largest broiler production state in the US) and identify the relationship between air quality and production management. Two identical broiler-breeder houses (350 ft L x 40 ft W x 10 ft H; 10,000 Ross breeders per house at around 35 wk old in early 2019) were monitored in Southern Georgia. Results show that two houses had similar air temperature (21-28 °C), relative humidity (40-80%), ammonia (8-12 ppm), and dust level (0.5-1 mg m-3 - PM2.5 and 1-1.5 mg m-3-PM10). Dust monitored at 0.35 m above floor (bird level) was 50% higher than 1 m above floor because bedding floor was the primary source of airborne dust and animals‘ movement led to the increase of dust levels. Ammonia level in breeder houses were lower than published results for broiler grow-out houses in Georgia (e.g., about 50 ppm) as grow-out houses have different ventilation stages from breeder houses. Besides, the current farm included wood chips in bedding that potentially reduced the moisture accumulation on floor, which inhibited the generation of ammonia from litter. This study generated the information for developing on-farm environmental stewardship and best management practices (BMPs) for commercial broiler breeder farms.

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