Poultry Nutrition and Amonia Emissions

What is the impact of ammonia emissions from poultry operations on the environment?

Ammonia emissions to the atmosphere from poultry operations are a byproduct of the decay of waste. The consequent emissions contribute to the acidification and eutrophication (algal blooms and oxygen depletion) in water, and to haze pollution in the air, which is linked to cardiovascular and respiratory disease in humans.


How is nitrogen partitioned in the hen?

The majority of nitrogen in a poultry operation is lost to the environment in manure and as a gas.


What dietary strategies can minimize ammonia emissions from poultry wastes?

Reducing dietary intake of protein and applying precision feeding (meeting the exact nutritional requirements of the hen) are the most efficient, cost effective way to reduce ammonia emissions. By formulating feed rations based on the bird’s nutritional requirements for amino acids, the producer can reduce over feeding of protein. An expanded phase feeding program will meet nutritional requirements more precisely, also resulting in reduction of overfeeding. It is important to select ingredients with low nutrient variability and to use those that have readily available and digestible nutrients to improve efficiency of digestion and uptake. Producers can supplement rations with enzymes that increase diet utilization as well as additives that increase nitrogen absorption.


Are there regulations on poultry emissions?

As of January 2009, farms are required to report under EPCRA (Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act) to the local emergency management authorities if 100 pounds per day or more of ammonia is emitted. In Pennsylvania most commercial scale egg laying farms would be required to report under the existing definition. This regulation is in effect and under review.

Contact Information

Paul Patterson
  • Professor of Poultry Science
Phone: 814-865-3414