How to increase productivity and reduce ammonia at the same time?

Published: 2020-07-25

Additives can help in reducing ammonia and boost productivity at the same time while keeping costs down.
In recent years, the authorities have been focusing increasingly on ammonia emissions from pig production - and particularly from finisher production.

And they do so because high ammonia concentrations in the air affect the growth of beneficial weeds and herbs, which are overwhelmed by weed species that need higher levels of nutrition, with reduced biodiversity to follow. 

When new finisher housing sheds are built, this is one of the factors that has a lot of focus and ammonia-reducing measures are put into effect. These can include air-filtering, slurry acidification and cooling.

But existing production units will often require considerable investment in such measures. The question is, therefore, whether it is possible to add products to the feed (the mineral mix) capable of reducing ammonia?  We believe that there are actually a number of ways, and will take a look at what Vilomix can offer below, and what the costs involved are.

  • Benzoic acid
  • Bioplus 2B YC
  • Micro aid

Benzoic acid

The addition of 1% benzoic acid reduces ammonia emissions by 14% per pig (Report no. 948).

An additive at that level costs around EUR 2,9 per pig (at 224 FE/finisher), making it a reasonably expensive affair to add benzoic acid. But benzoic acid does have a positive effect on growth and feed consumption.  And to a certain extent, it can also be expected to give a lower mortality rate. Such parameters can pay for approx. half of the price of adding 1% benzoic acid. 

A lower dose of 0.5% means that ammonia can be expected to be reduced by approx. 7% per finisher. There will still be a high effect in terms of lower feed consumption and high growth, meaning that the extra cost of about EUR 1,5 per finisher will be covered.

Bioplus 2B YC

Adding probiotics in the form of Bioplus 2B YC is another way of reducing ammonia emissions. By adding this probiotic, protein utilisation in the small intestine is increased, as it becomes colonised by beneficial lactic acid bacteria. The improved protein utilisation gives lower ammonia emissions.

A number of trials have been run with the addition of Bioplus 2B YC for finishers, with concurrent reduction of crude protein and amino acid profile of 5%. Productivity in these trials was not negatively affected. 

Given the beneficial price of finishers at this time, there have been a number of recommendations to increase protein and amino acid additives by up to 10%. But that will also result in higher ammonia emissions, and in some instances can give problems in relation to environmental approval for the farm. You could, therefore, consider adding Bioplus 2B instead, to increase the amino acid and crude protein level in feed. 

Adding Bioplus costs around EUR 1 per finisher. If you want to increase the protein and amino acid level in feed for finishers by 5%, it will cost around EUR 0,8 per finisher. That's why you will only need to pay a reasonably modest price to get a probiotic in your feed able to boost your protein utilisation, and cut ammonia emissions.

Micro Aid 

Micro Aid is an extract of the yucca plant. It works by altering the microbial composition such that a smaller amount of protein is converted into ammonia. Consequently, more protein is made available to the pig.  Trials have shown ammonia reduction of around 14% compared to the control group. The addition of Micro Aid in trials has also shown a reduction of feed of 0.05 FE/kg growth. Adding Micro Aid costs approx. EUR 0,5 per finisher. Given current feed prices, a reduction in feed consumption of this size will yield a return of around EUR 0,3 per pig for the farmer.

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