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In vitro study of the biochemical origin and production limits of odorous compounds in cattle feedlots

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Livestock odors are closely correlated to airborne concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are a complex mixture of carbon-, sulfur-, and nitrogen-containing compounds produced primarily during the incomplete anaerobic fermentation of animal manure by microorganisms. Volatile fatty acids, alcohols, and aromatic ring compounds comprise a substantial fraction of VOC, yet very little is known about their biochemical origin and environmental factors controlling their production. The anaerobic production of fermentation products and consumption of substrates (CP, starch, and nonstarch carbohydrate) were analyzed in slurries of fresh (< 24 h) and aged (> 1 d) cattle manure over several weeks. Ethanol, acetate, propionate, butyrate, lactate, and H2 were the major products of fermentation. Aged cattle manure produced twice the concentration of VFA during incubation produced by the fresh manure (P < 0.001). Aromatic compounds (phenols, indoles, and benzoates) remained unchanged in both manures. Production of VFA from fresh manure was inhibited when the pH fell below 4.5. It is likely that the presence of calcareous soil, which has a high buffering capacity, and lactate-consuming micro-organisms minimized acidification in the aged manure slurries. Low starch content limited VFA production in the aged manure. Starch was the likely biochemical source for fermentation products in both manures based on the strong negative correlations between fermentation product and starch content (r = -0.944 and -0.773) and ratio of fermentation products produced to starch consumed (r = 0.64 and 0.72) for fresh and aged manure, respectively. Nonstarch carbohydrate served an indeterminate role in the production of fermentation products. Nonstarch carbohydrate decreased by 4.7 and 23.4 g/L in the fresh and aged manure, respectively, whereas the starch content decreased by 18.6 and 22.4 g/L in the fresh and aged manure, respectively. The concentration of CP did not change, which suggests a balance between protein consumption and new bacterial biomass production. We conclude that the types of substrates in cattle manure and the feedlot soils where they are deposited are significant factors in the production of odors.
Miller, D.N. , Varel, V.H.
beef cattle , feedlots , odors , cattle manure , bacteria , volatile compounds , organic compounds , carbon , sulfur , nitrogen , anaerobic conditions , fermentation , crude protein , starch , phenolic compounds , indoles , benzoic acid
p. 2949-2956.
Includes references
Journal of animal science Dec 2001. v. 79 (12)
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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