U.S. broiler housing ammonia emissions inventory

R. S. Gates, K. D. Casey, E. F. Wheeler, H. Xin, A. J. Pescatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using recently published baseline ammonia emissions data for U.S. broiler chicken housing, we present a method of estimating their contribution to an annual ammonia budget that is different from that used by USEPA. Emission rate increases in a linear relationship with flock age from near zero at the start of the flock to a maximum at the end of the flock, 28-65 days later. Market weight of chickens raised for meat varies from "broilers" weighing about 2 kg to "roasters" weighing about 3 kg. Multiple flocks of birds are grown in a single house annually, with variable downtime to prepare the house between flocks. The method takes into account weight and number of chickens marketed. Uncertainty in baseline emissions estimates is used so that inventory estimates are provided with error estimates. The method also incorporates the condition of litter that birds are raised upon and the varying market weight of birds grown. Using 2003 USDA data on broiler production numbers, broiler housing is estimated to contribute 8.8-11.7 kT ammonia for new and built-up litter, respectively, in Kentucky and 240-324 kT ammonia for new and built-up litter, respectively, nationally. Results suggest that a 10% uncertainty in annual emission rate is expected for the market weight categories of broilers, heavy broilers, and roasters. A 27-47% reduction in annual housing emission rate is predicted if new rather than built-up litter were used for every flock. The estimating method can be adapted to other meat bird building emissions and future ammonia emission strategies, with suitable insertion of an age-dependent emission factor or slope into a predictive model equation. The method can be readily applied and is an alternative to that used by USEPA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3342-3350
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number14
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Agricultural air quality
  • Environment
  • Poultry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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