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Incorporation of thymol into corncob granules for reduction of odor and pathogens in feedlot cattle waste

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Confined animal feeding operations can be a source of odor emissions, global warming gases, water pollution, and food contamination. Laboratory studies have indicated that plant oils with antimicrobial activity can be used to control pathogens and odor emissions from cattle and swine wastes. However, these oils are aromatic and may volatilize when applied topically. Our objectives were to evaluate the volatility of thymol from a feedlot surface and the effectiveness of topically applying thyme oil (2.5% thymol), incorporated into corncob granules and added once per week, to control odor emissions and total coliforms in feedlot manure. In the first study, thymol either volatilized or was degraded within 28 d after topical application. In a second study, thyme oil (2.5% thymol) was incorporated into corncobs and applied to pen surfaces weekly. Manure samples from 6 locations in each pen were collected from 3 untreated and 3 thymol-corncob-treated pens (15 x 150 m; fifty 400-kg cattle/pen), 3 times per week for 8 wk. Samples were analyzed for thymol concentration, total VFA, branched-chain VFA, aromatic compounds, and the number of Escherichia coli and total coliform bacteria. Over the 8 wk, with the exception of wk 7, the desired thymol concentration of 15 to 20 [micro]mol/g DM was maintained in the manure. Concentrations of VFA and branched chain-VFA increased over time in untreated and treated pens. However, the rate of VFA accumulation in treated pens (7.5 ± 1.3 [micro]mol·g DM⁻¹·wk⁻¹) was less (P < 0.01) than the rate of accumulation in untreated pens (18.0 ± 2.1 [micro]mol·g DM⁻¹·wk⁻¹). Likewise, the rate of branched-chain VFA accumulation in treated pens (0.31 ± 0.04 [micro]mol·g DM⁻¹·wk⁻¹) was less (P < 0.01) than in untreated pens (0.55 ± 0.06 [micro]mol·g DM⁻¹·wk¹). The concentrations of E. coli in treated pens (2.9 ± 1.2 x 10⁵ cfu·g DM⁻¹) were 91% less (P < 0.04) than in untreated pens (31.1 ± 4.0 x 10⁵ cfu·g DM⁻¹). Similarly, concentrations of coliforms in treated pens (3.7 ± 1.3 x 10⁵ cfu·g DM⁻¹) were 89% less (P < 0.04) than those of untreated pens (35.3 ± 4.2 x 10⁵ cfu·g DM⁻¹). These results indicate that odor emissions and total coliforms can be reduced in feedlot manure with a once per week application of thymol incorporated in a granular form. However, corncobs are bulky, and other granular carriers with a greater carrying capacity for thyme oil should be explored.
Varel, V. H. , Miller, D. N. , Berry, E. D.
beef cattle , feedlots , cattle manure , corn cobs , thymol , odors , odor control , granules , coliform bacteria , food pathogens , microbial contamination , volatile fatty acids , Escherichia coli
p. 481-487.
Includes references
Journal of animal science 2006 Feb., v. 84, no. 2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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