Seasonal diet affects ammonia emissions from tie-stall dairy barns

J. M. Powell, G. A. Broderick, T. H. Misselbrook

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Federal and state regulations are being promulgated under the Clean Air Act to reduce hazardous air emissions from livestock operations. Although much is known about air emissions from livestock operations in Europe, few data are available on emissions from livestock facilities in the United States and the management practices that may minimize these emissions. The objective of this study was to measure seasonal and diet effects on ammonia emissions from experimental tie-stall dairy barns located in central Wisconsin. Four experimental chambers each housed 4 lactating Holstein dairy cows for three 28-d trial periods corresponding to spring, early fall, and winter. A 4 x 4 Latin square statistical design was used to evaluate 4 diets [corn silage (CS)- or alfalfa silage (AS)-based diets at low or high crude protein] in each chamber for a 4-d ammonia monitoring period. Partially due to higher crude protein levels, average ammonia-N emissions during spring (18.8 g/cow per d) were approximately twice the emissions recorded during early fall (8.4 g/cow per d) and 3 times greater than emissions during winter (6.7 g/cow per d). Ammonia-N emissions accounted for approximately 1 to 3% of consumed feed N, 2 to 5% of excreted manure N, and 4 to 11% of manure ammonical N. Nighttime ammonia emissions were on average 30% lower than daytime emissions. Forage type did not affect ammonia emissions during winter or early fall. Only during early spring were ammonia emissions lower from chambers containing cows fed low-CP diets than from cows fed high-CP diets. Of the total chamber N inputs (feed and bedding), 93, 91, and 95% were recovered in N outputs (milk, manure, body weight change, and ammonia N) during spring, early fall, and winter trials, respectively. Confidence in the accuracy of ammonia emission results was gained by the relatively high chamber N balances and favorable comparisons of study data with published relationships among the variables of feed N intake, milk urea N, manure N, and urine N excretion, and ammonia emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-869
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • manure
  • diet
  • tie-stall
  • ammonia emission


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