2000 Annual Report - Poultry [Skip to Content]

Illinois Livestock Trail
2000 Annual Report
by P.C. Harrison, K.W. Koelkebeck, G.L. Riskowski

1. Project: NE 127

2. Cooperating Agencies and Personnel

Animal Sciences

P.C. Harrison - Project Leader

K.W. Koelkebeck - Project Co-Leader

Agricultural Engineering

G.L. Riskowski - Project Leader

3. Progress of Work and Principal Accomplishments

Studies have been initiated and completed in the following areas:

A. Use of a feed additive and manure treatment application technique to reduce ammonia generation from laying hen manure

B. Permeability and leaching of nutrients within turkey barns


3.1 Effect of a Feed Additive or Manure Treatment Application on the Mass Generation Rate of Ammonia from Laying Hen Manure (Report by P.C. Harrison, K.W. Koelkebeck, and G.L. Riskowski)


Most research previously conducted on the effects of aerial ammonia on birds, caretakers and the air environment has been on air concentration level. Previous techniques used to reduce ammonia have reported results based on changes in concentration levels. The effect of ammonia reducing techniques on the generation rate of ammonia production (i.e., mg/hour or mg/bird/hour) has not been extensively investigated by other researchers; however, last year we reported on an experiment conducted in our laboratory. In that report, we reported that spraying laying hen manure with soybean oil had no consistent effect on ammonia production. Fecal pans that were sprayed with oil and no oil produced 15.3 and 20.3 mLNH3/kg body weight of chickens, respectively. Thus, the results of that study indicated that spraying laying hen manure with soybean oil had no appreciable effect on the generation rate of ammonia production.

There are several methods that have been used in the commercial poultry industry to reduce aerial ammonia release from poultry manure. These techniques involve either the feeding of an ammonia reducing product in the diet (systemic) or direct application of the product on the manure as a powder or spray. One such product which has been used as a direct-fed ammonia reduction method is Micro-Aid®. Micro-Aid is a concentrated process extract from the Yucca schidigera plant, formulated with other ingredients. This product contains a combination of saponin surfactants plus a urease inhibitor. It is designed to control the conversion of urea to ammonia and reduce microbial proteolytic activity in the manure. Another product that has been used especially in the broiler industry is the poultry litter treatment, AL+ Clear®. AL+, an alum product (aluminum sulfate), is an acid that produces hydrogen ions when it dissolves and the H+ ions produced by this reaction attaches themselves to ammonia to form ammonium NH4+. This further reacts with sulfate ions to form ammonium sulfate. As a result of these reactions, the release of ammonia from the manure is supposedly reduced. The alum product further causes a lowering of the pH of the manure. In addition, these reactions produce an increase in the nitrogen content of the manure and also results in the precipitation of soluble phosphorus of the manure which potentially reduces phosphorus runoff or leaching.

Since both of the above ammonia reduction methods act in different ways, it was of interest to compare the effectiveness of each product in reducing ammonia generation from laying hen manure. Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two ammonia reduction products on reducing acute ammonia generation from manure of laying hens.

General Procedures and Experimental Set-Up

A short term experiment was conducted which utilized three indirect, convective calorimeters described in detail in reports to NE-127 (1995) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (Harrison et al., 1996). All variables of the environment could be controlled in these calorimeters (air temperature, velocity, and relative humidity).

A total of 81 commercial laying hens (56 wk of age) were utilized in this study. They were housed in a commercial-type caged layer facility at the University of Illinois Poultry Research Farm. Water and feed were provided ad libitum and photoperiod was 17-h daily. They were placed in nine groups of nine hens each (3 adjacent raised wire cages, 30 x 46 cm, containing 3 hens per cage). Seven days prior to the start of manure collection when the hens were randomly assigned to the treatments, two-thirds of the hens (6 groups) were fed a standard layer ration (16% CP, 2865 kcal ME/kg) formulated to meet or exceed NRC (1994) requirements without the addition of Micro-Aid®. The remaining third was designated to be the hens fed Micro-Aid® and had been fed Micro-Aid® containing feed for 3 months prior to starting the experiment. The level of Micro-Aid® in the feed was mixed at the standard recommended level of one pound per ton. Thus, three groups of nine hens each were randomly assigned to the treatments.

The three experimental treatments consisted of: 1) hens fed a regular diet with no manure treatment (controls); 2) hens fed Micro-Aid® containing feed continuously; and 3) hens fed a regular diet, but the manure was sprayed daily with AL+ Clear®. In order to avoid contamination of feces to be measured from hens allotted to the three treatments, the Micro-Aid® fed hens were located in cages across a walkway from the control and AL+ Clear® treatment hens. In addition, each cage was labeled as to what treatment was applied.

Manure Collection System

In order to measure the ammonia generation rate from manure collected from each treatment, sample collections of manure from each cage of three hens were transported to the calorimeters in another building. To do this, a manure collection platform was constructed and placed under the cages. A stainless steel tray (18" x 36") was then placed on the platform under each set of three side-by-side cages. Manure collection boxes (5" H x 7" W x 11" L) were then placed on the stainless steel tray under each cage. At the time of ammonia (NH3 generation rate) sampling, manure and collection boxes were transported to the emissions calorimeters.

At the start of manure collection, pre-weighed collection boxes were placed under each of the cages in each treatment group designated to be sampled for the first calorimeter run. The next day, the three boxes from AL+ Clear® treatment groups were removed from the manure collection platform, placed end to end on the floor and sprayed with 40 mL of AL+ Clear® solution. The spraying of AL+ Clear solution began on experiment Day1 and was done on a daily basis at approximately 8:30 a.m. every day. The concentration of the AL+ Clear solution was based on recommended mass rates used in the industry for dry application. The dry application rate is 50# of AL+ Clear® spread on 1000 ft2 of litter surface. A liquid concentration equivalent of 5 lbs. of AL+ Clear® per 1 gal. of H2O was applied at the rate of 40 mls/day (0.033#/sq. ft.).

Pre-weighed manure collection boxes for the second replicate were placed on the manure collection trays. The first replicate manure collection boxes were then transported to the calorimeter building, weighed, and placed in the three calorimeters. During the NH3 emissions measurement days, empty manure collection boxes were substituted under the hens. On NH3 measurement days, three boxes from each manure treatment were evaluated as a unit in each calorimeter.

Following equilibrium, the triplicate sample period lasted for approximately 1 h, then the boxes were switched from one calorimeter to another until all treatments had been measured in all calorimeters. This procedure allowed for analysis of calorimeter effect over treatments.

Following each NH3 measurement day (Day 1, 7 and 14 of manure age), an approximate 10 g sample of manure was placed in a pre-weighed weigh boat and allowed to dry in a 50 C oven to determine percent moisture. The manure collection boxes were then transported back to the poultry farm and placed on the manure collection trays. The manure that had collected in the replacement boxes was added to each original box. This procedure for manure collection, spraying, and NH3 emission measurement was repeated over a 16 day period and allow triple replicate evaluation of NH3 generation from manure from all treatments at age 1, 7 and 14 days (Table 1).

At manure age Day 1, all three manure collection boxes were placed in the calorimeters. Total NH3 generated from the entire mass of the collected manure became greater than our system's capacity on collection days 7 and 14; therefore, manure samples from each of the original manure collection boxes were placed in identical, clean boxes that were then evaluated for NH3 emission rate. Mean manure emission mass was 526, 840, and 152 g for Day-1, Day-7, and Day-14, respectively.

Results and Discussion

Fecal mass and moisture are shown in Table 2. There were no differences between manure treatments or replications. Manure weight increased over time and percent moisture decreased over time. Replicate C had a lower moisture content than either A or B and there was a treatment by replicate interaction for which a logical and treatment related explanation could not be found.

Mean overall mass generation rate of ammonia for the two week period for the Control, Micro-Aid®, and AL+ Clear® treatments was 58, 52, and 31 mg NH3/hr/kg manure, respectively. Mass generation rate of NH3 for each treatment at each sample period is shown in Figure 1. The AL+ Clear® treatment dramatically increased between the week-1 and week-2 measurement period. At the week-2 sample the AL+ Clear® remained lower than the control (P = 0.001) and Micro-Aid® (P = 0.01). However, when ammonia generation was compared on a dry manure basis for week-2, there was no difference between treatments and both treatments were different from the controls (Table 3). The increase in ammonia generation rate in the AL+ Clear® treatment may have been related to disruption of the manure collection surface at week-2. All treatments received the same sampling procedure; however, the AL+ Clear® was a daily topical application that would probably be affected the most by surface disruption.

3.2 The Degree of Permeability and Leaching of Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Soils from Earthen Floors Within Turkey Barns in Southeastern Illinois (Report by K.W. Koelkebeck)


In the past 10-15 years there has been considerable growth and expansion in the turkey industry in the State of Illinois. This increased production has brought about some concern by regulatory agencies over the possibility of contaminating ground water by leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus from turkey houses. Studies conducted previously have found that nitrogen concentrations were higher in soils under turkey barn floors to a depth of five feet, than in soils outside the barn. Thus, the present study was conducted to determine the degree of leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil from within several turkey barns as compared to the nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the soil outside the barns. In addition, the degree of permeability was determined in the first 11 in. of soil within the turkey barns vs outside the barns.

Materials and Methods

Three turkey farms located in Southeastern Illinois were selected for this study. On each farm, samples were taken for soil nutrient analysis and soil permeability from earthen floors from one of the turkey barns. The soil type, percent clay and expected permeability for each farm in presented in Table 4 and the location of soil borings for soil nutrient analysis and permeability in and outside each barn is shown in Figure 2. For each of the barns sampled on Farms A, B, and C there were a total of 12 soil borings; nine soil borings taken from within the barns and three soil borings taken from outside the barns. For this procedure, an Illinois State Geological Survey Probe truck was used to collect the soil bores. Samples were taken from a 5 x 10 ft. rectangular area 1/3, 1/2 , and 2/3 of the distance from one end of the barn. In addition, soil borings were taken in three locations on the outside of each barn approximately 20 ft. from the side and end wall. For each bore, the first 5 ft. of depth was separated into five 1-ft. sections, and transported in a Styrofoam cooler twice a day to a commercial lab for analysis of soil nutrients.

After the soil bore samples were taken from a barn, core samples for permeability were taken. For soil permeability or hydrolic conductivity, a three inch diameter x three inch deep cylindrical soil core was taken using a Uhland core sampling device. For each barn, 15 individual core samples were taken at each location inside or outside of the barn (Figure 2). Three core samples were taken at three depths (approximately 1-3", 5-7", and 9-11") from the inside and two samples at the same depths were taken from the outside. In addition to the soil bore samples for soil nutrients and core samples for permeability, a core sample was taken outside each barn to a depth of about 28 ft. Pictures were taken of this core sample for each 4-ft. section to determine the type of soil (clay, sand, or clay/sand combination) present.


Figures 3 and 4 depicts the results for total Kjeldahl (TKN) and nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) for all three farms averaged together by each soil sample depth. In Figure 3, TKN concentration was greater (P < 0.05) for inside vs outside samples of soil depths of 1, 2, and 3 ft., but not for the 4 and 5 ft. samples (P > 0.05). In Figure 4, the results for NO3-N averaged over all farms showed that greater (P < 0.05) concentrations occurring for inside vs outside samples at all depths. However, the magnitude of differences was very small at the 4- and 5-ft. depth compared to depths 1, 2, and 3 ft. The results for total phosphorus (P2) indicated that P2 concentation was higher on the inside vs outside only at the first ft. of depth (Figure 5). The data presented in Table 5 shows that average permeability was significantly lower (P < 0.05) for the inside vs outside samples at the 1-3"- and 5-7"-depths for all farms averaged together.

For the type of soil found for each farm at a depth of 28 ft., the pictures of the 4-ft. sections revealed a clay base for all three farms. For farm A, bore samples were taken to a depth of 28 ft., and at that point the geoprobe hit limestone bedrock and could not penetrate any further.


In this study, increased concentrations of TKN were found for inside soil samples for the first 3-ft. depth, but not for the 4- and 5-ft. depth compared to outside samples. This indicates that over a 10 to 12 year period of growing turkeys in these buildings, TKN only migrated about 4 ft. below the surface of the ground within the turkey barns. The data presented for NO3-N revealed that this nutrient migrated about 5 or more ft. below the surface of the inside of the turkey barns. A possible reason that NO3-N seemed to migrate further in the soil from within the turkey barns was because the sub-floor of the inside of the barns were mixed with backfill (organically enriched) soil at the time of building construction.

In this study, the results presented for soil permeability indicate for the most part that the compaction produced by the turkeys inside the barns helped to lower the permeability of soil within the houses.

Observation of the core samples that were taken from the 28-ft. cores showed that no aqueous material was observed to be present up to 20 ft. or so. These observations indicate that the presence of aqueous containing soil seems to be at least 20 ft. below the surface of the ground.

In summary, the results of this study indicated that soil nitrogen (TKN) was shown to leach below the surface of the ground inside turkey facilities to a depth of 4 ft. Nitrate nitrogen levels were found to penetrate a little further, but were dramatically reduced at 5 ft. vs 1 ft. inside the turkey barns. The results for P2 indicate that the soil nutrient did not migrate in the soil like the results of TKN and NO3-N. In addition, the raising of turkeys in these facilities seemed to dramatically lower permeability of soil within the turkey barns. Finally, since this study showed that possible harmful nutrients from turkey manure leached below the surface of the soil within a turkey barn just a few feet, it is highly unlikely that subsurface ground water would ever be contaminated.

4. Usefulness of Findings

The results of these studies indicate that manure application of an ammonia-reducing compound maybe effective in reducing the mass generation rate of ammonia from laying hen manure. The methods used to spray manure including the rate of concentrations used should be further investigated. In addition, the results reported on permeability of soils and leaching of possible harmful nutrients in soils within turkey barns indicates that contamination of ground water would not likely occur in the area of the state where the study was conducted.

5. Worked Planned for Next Year

Ammonia generation rate from poultry manure treated with varying concentration rates and different feed additive products that influence ammonia release and production in hen manure will be evaluated.

6. Publications

Bell, D. D., P. A. Patterson, K. W. Koelkebeck, K. E. Anderson, M. J. Darre, J. B. Carey, D. R. Kuney, and G. Zeidler, 2000. Egg marketing in national supermarkets: Egg quality - Part 1. Poultry Sci. 79:(In press).

Boling, S. D., M. W. Douglas, M. L. Johnson, X. Wang, C. M. Parsons, K. W. Koelkebeck, and R. A. Zimmerman, 2000. The effects of dietary available phosphorus levels and phytase on performance of young and older laying hens. Poultry Sci. 79:224-230.

Boling, S. D., M. W. Douglas, R. B. Shirley, C. M. Parsons, and K. W. Koelkebeck, 2000. The effects of various dietary levels of phytase and available phosphorus on performance of laying hens. Poultry Sci. 79:(In press).

Koelkebeck, K. W., 2000. A study on the degree of permeability and leaching of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in soils within turkey barns. Poultry Sci. 79(Suppl. 1):8.

Koelkebeck, K. W., D. D. Bell, J. B. Carey, K. E. Anderson, and M. J. Darre, 2000. Egg marketing in national supermarkets: Products, packaging, and prices - Part 3. Poultry Sci. 79:(In press).

Koelkebeck, K. W., C. M. Parsons, M. Douglas, R. W. Leeper, S. Jin, X. Wang, Y. Zhang, and S. Fernandez, 2000. Early postmolt performance of lyaing hens fed a low-rpotein corn molt diet supplemented with spent hen meal. Poultry Science 79:(In press).

Makled, M. N., K. W. Koelkebeck, C. M. Parsons, and A. B. Corless, 2000. Effect of acute and cyclic heat stress on amino acid digestibility of four feedstuffs. 21st World's Poultry Congress. (In press.)

Patterson, P. H., K. W. Koelkebeck, D. D. Bell, M. J. Darre, J. B. Carey, and K. E. Anderson, 2000. Egg marketing in national supermarkets: Speciality eggs - Part 2. Poultry Sci. 79:(In press).

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