Ammonia is a serious issue for animal farms, especially for poultry farms. In all animal farms, the “smell test” has been found to be useless: when ammonia stench is detected, the damage is already done.
According to a study by the University of Mississippi, even at a concentration of 25ppm ammonia there is an increase in mucus secretion in the animals’ airways and the cilia that line the walls of air passageways are no longer able to protect the respiratory tract. This gives the green light to pathogens that colonise the animals, grow and cause diseases.
But it is not just a matter of infections: broilers inhaling ammonia grow more slowly.
In a 2004 study, the USDA-ARS Poultry Research Unit (Mississippi, USA) shows that in a farm of 50000 birds, prolonged exposure to 25 ppm ammonia results in a loss of 26 grams per head (i.e. 1300 kg less per production cycle); while long-term exposure to 50ppm of this gas results in the loss of 243 grams per animal (i.e. 12150 kg less per production cycle).
The solution to this long-standing problem may be to ventilate the premises, but since ventilation is expensive (industrial fans consume more than 1 kW each), in order to obtain maximum efficiency, ventilation must be perfectly optimised.