Dust and ammonia gas (NH3) are two of the most abundant pollutants suspended in the air of poultry houses. Chronic inhalation of poultry dust and NH3 causes damage to the airways and reduces performance in broilers. Poultry dust is a mixture of organic and inorganic matter from feed, bedding material, manure, feathers, skin debris, and microorganisms. Thus, the composition and concentration of poultry dust vary among farms. This study proposes a model to assess the individual effect of a defined fraction of poultry dust derived from bedding material (wood dust) and its effects, alone or combined with NH3, on the performance and respiratory integrity of broilers. Ninety-six, 1-day-old broilers were randomly divided into groups of 24 and placed into four controlled environment chambers to continuously receive one of four treatments: 1) negative control; 2) exposure to airborne red oak wood dust at a concentration of 7.5 × 106 particles/m3 (particulate matter5.0); 3) exposure to 50 parts per million (ppm) of NH3; and 4) exposure to airborne red oak wood dust and 50 ppm of NH3. On day 43, all birds were weighed and euthanized. Performance data were recorded. Tissue samples were collected from six birds per treatment. Histologic evaluations of the nasal turbinates, trachea, and lungs were conducted. Histologic lesion scores (0 to 3) were assigned, and tracheal mucosal thickness was measured. No significant differences among treatments were found in body weight (P = 0.066), tracheal mucosal thickness (P = 0.593), or tracheal lesion score (P = 0.07). The average nasal turbinate lesion scores were higher in the wood and wood + ammonia treatments compared with the control (P = 0.015). The lung lesion scores were higher (P = 0.004) in all treatment groups compared with the control. In conclusion, chronic exposure to red oak wood dust, alone or in combination with NH3, induced important inflammatory damage to portions of the respiratory system of broilers; however, no significant effects on performance were observed.

You do not currently have access to this content.