Ammonia emissions from twelve U.S. broiler chicken houses

Eileen F. Wheeler, Kenneth D. Casey, Richard Gates, Hongwei Xin, Jennifer L. Zajaczkowski, Patrick A. Topper, Yi Liang, Anthony J. Pescatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


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 NH 3 bird -1 d -1 per day of age; the fourth farm, managed with new litter, had the lowest emission rate at 0.024 g NH 3 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 NH 3 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1512
Number of pages18
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Ammonia emissions
  • Broiler houses
  • Electrochemical sensor
  • Litter treatment
  • NH concentration
  • Poultry
  • Seasonal variation
  • Ventilation rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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