The Alltech Feeding Times Issue 36 - Winter 2021 Winter 2021 - Page 28

How is ammonia gas formed ?
Nitrogen is a component of poultry diets , via either protein or other sources . Some of this nitrogen can be used by the bird and is incorporated into tissues or eggs , but most of it is excreted in the urine or feces in the forms of uric acid ( around 80 %), ammonia ( around 10 %) and urea ( around 5 %). Once the uric acid and urea are excreted , they are converted into ammonia through microbial and enzymatic breakdown via the bacteria and enzymes found in manure . After this process , ammonia is readily released into the air as a gas that can be detected by both birds and farmworkers .
Factors that influence how ammonia is formed and released into the poultry house environment :
• Litter type
• Bird activity
• Stocking density
• Manure handling
• Frequency of manure removal
• Ventilation rate
Factors that influence how manure bacteria and enzymes break down nitrogen to form ammonia :
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20 – 30 ppm for 16 – 28 days . Studies of turkeys have found that , among birds dealing with an E . coli challenge , those that were exposed to ammonia levels between 10 – 40 ppm had more bacteria in their lungs than the birds that were not exposed to ammonia . In layers , it has been suggested that early exposure to ammonia could have a lasting effect and might impact how pullets perform later as laying hens . Additionally , chronic exposure to high ammonia concentrations may impair egg production for layers .
At a microscopic level , researchers have found that exposure to ammonia can trigger changes within the animal . In poultry , high-level exposure to ammonia for 20 days decreased the intestinal surface area ( possibly impacting nutrient absorption ), decreased the bird ’ s resistance to oxidative stress , altered the intestinal tract ’ s ability to break down nutrients and impacted immune organs . Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia for even a short period of time may impact birds just as much as exposure to medium concentrations of ammonia for longer periods .
How to reduce ammonia levels in poultry houses
There are several strategies for decreasing ammonia in the barn . These strategies can be used individually or in combination and can help encourage good barn air quality and better poultry performance potential . These strategies include ventilation and management of both the barn and the poultry litter / manure .
• Nitrogen content
• Temperature • Moisture / humidity
• pH
What impact can ammonia have on the bird ?
The results of poultry research studying how ammonia levels can impact production are varied . Some groups suggest that 25 ppm should be the maximum , whereas other groups suggest that exposing birds to 20 ppm for long periods of time could lead to issues like a debilitated immune system and respiratory tract damage . Other research suggests that , when poultry can choose between environments featuring different levels of ammonia , they choose environments with ammonia levels under 11 ppm .
Ammonia is toxic to animals . High levels of ammonia may lead to observable changes , such as difficulty breathing , irritation of the trachea ( the breathing tube ), air sac inflammation , inflammation of the mucus membranes of the eye or a combination of these symptoms . Many other , less obvious changes can take place upon exposure to lower levels of ammonia . Studies have found that exposure to 20 – 25 ppm throughout production can result in increased susceptibility to secondary challenges ( viral or bacterial ), decreased feed efficiency and tissue damage . These changes have been noted in broilers exposed to ammonia levels between
Ventilation acts as an in-barn air quality control , removing ammonia from the barn and bringing in clean air . This method does not , however , reduce or inhibit the formation of ammonia . Nevertheless , maintaining , appropriate ventilation during all seasons will help reduce the gaseous ammonia levels in the barn and keep the litter dry .
Good barn management can help to diminish the formation of ammonia gas . Proper barn management includes ensuring that the litter or manure is not wet . Several ways to keep litter from getting wet are to fix leaky drinkers and sprinkler systems ; choose the appropriate litter ; maintain a suitable barn relative humidity for the age of the bird ; reduce the potential for condensation ; and properly heat and ventilate the barn .
Strategies for managing the litter and manure can be separated into two main management actions : Managing the bird diet : The formation of ammonia in the manure and its subsequent release as a gas can be traced back to increased nitrogen levels in the manure . Fecal nitrogen levels can increase if the bird does not properly break down and absorb the protein in the feed . This can happen if the bird ’ s diet features too much complex
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COMBATING INFLAMMATION IN DOGS WITH MICRONUTRIENTS inflammation is a common cause of premature aging and a shorter lifespan because of its impact at the cellular level. What causes chronic inflammation? Chronic inflammation in dogs can be caused by environmental toxins or irritants, obesity and, perhaps most notably, an unhealthy diet. While it can be difficult to control or remove every inflammatory agent in today’s world, the good news is that science has made strong links between digestive tract health and inflammation — and nutrition is something that we definitely have the power to change. In both human and animal medicine, the case for using natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients as a means to combat chronic inflammation is growing quickly. In the animal industry, this field of science is often referred to as immunonutrition, or the study of how specific nutrients can impact the immune system. For example, any food that your dog may be allergic or sensitive to can cause inflammation, as can synthetics, toxins and other chemicals. In contrast, some anti- inflammatory ingredients in pet food diets include omega-3 fatty acids, pro- and prebiotics and other functional nutrients, such as antioxidants. What are the signs of chronic inflammation in dogs? A chronic immune response in dogs can manifest as: • • • • • • • Inflammation has become one of the hottest health topics in recent years, and for good reason. Inflammation is the basis of any disease that ends in “-itis” — which, unfortunately, accounts for a large percentage of presenting medical conditions. What is inflammation? In and of itself, acute inflammation is not a bad thing. Inflammation is the body’s way of responding to any type of foreign invader or event. The immune system initiates an inflammatory response in order to handle anything and everything, from a wound or infection to bacteria and viruses. There are five cardinal signs of inflammation: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 28 Redness Heat Swelling Pain Loss of function All of these signs indicate that the body is working to repair any damaged tissues and remove the potential danger. Inflammation goes wrong when it becomes chronic, meaning that it is a longer-term issue in which the immune system responds inappropriately. In this case, the body is often on a loop of constant low- level inflammation that involves excessive levels of inflammatory cytokines and other proteins that can cause cellular damage at a microscopic level. This chronic inflammation is what puts us and our dogs at a higher risk of developing serious health conditions, ranging from immune diseases in dogs (such as inflammatory bowel disease, hypothyroidism, etc.) to skin and coat issues to heart disease and osteoarthritis. In many cases, chronic THE FEEDING TIMES Low energy and fatigue Unwillingness to walk, play or exercise Weight management issues (i.e., dogs becoming overweight or obese or suddenly losing weight) Itchy, flaky or dry skin, which may lead to infection Pain and discomfort Loss of appetite Vomiting, diarrhea or gastrointestinal (GI) distress The link between the gut microbiome and inflammation A dog’s gut microbiome is immediately affected by its diet, as food acts as the fuel for the living organisms in the digestive tract. As such, our responsibility as pet lovers is to provide our furry companions with nutrients that play a long-term role in their health. In senior pets, especially, inflammation and the buildup of oxidative stress can negatively impact the aging process and can even lead to premature aging. The ability to prevent premature aging — or “inflammaging,” as it has been coined — through the diet is key to canine longevity. For dogs, science has learned that the smallest ingredients, or micronutrients, often make the biggest difference. One example of the micronutrients that are WINTER ISSUE – DECEMBER 2021 gaining attention from both scientists and consumers is pro- and prebiotics for senior pets. A 2019 study in senior beagles looked at the microbiome-related effects of a control diet versus a diet that included NVGEN, a proprietary blend from Alltech that includes prebiotics and other gut health promoters. The dogs that were fed NVGEN showed higher levels of the bacteria that are associated with a healthy digestive tract, while the dogs fed a control diet had higher levels of the bacteria associated with inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, the dogs that were fed the diet that included NVGEN displayed significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein, a standard measurement of inflammation in the body. Feeding a diet that contained NVGEN resulted in a decrease of the amount of C-reactive protein to a normal level — which is a big deal for promoting healthy aging in dogs! The anti-inflammatory pet plan Inflammation is one of the most insidious symptoms of the chronic health conditions and inflammation that begin to manifest in pets in their younger years and that can negatively impact the aging process as they become seniors. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle is important for dogs at every life stage and includes: • • • • • Managing the dog’s weight Feeding an age-appropriate, high-quality diet Regular exercise and activity Proper levels of mental stimulation (without creating excessive stress) Protecting and supporting the microbiome The bottom line is that promoting a healthy inflammatory response and immune system in pets starts in the gut. Protecting the GI tract with ingredients such as the Alltech NVGEN pack is a critical step in improving pet food diets and, as a result, boosting the longevity of our beloved dogs. Emily Dickson is Alltech’s lifestyle marketing manager. Before joining the company in 2020, Emily worked in the animal health industry in various capacities since she was 12 years old. Her wide range of experiences, from feed sales to research trial management to serving as a large- animal vet tech, has given her an interesting perspective on the industry. She is passionate about bridging science with the real world, and most recently, she has been involved in content marketing and consulting for animal health companies. 29