United Poultry Concerns February 18, 2002
UPC Letter Re:Suit Over Chicken Farms
Published in The Courier-Journal
Letters Editor
The Courier-Journal
PO Box 740031
Louisville, KY 40201

Dear Editor:

Regarding "Sierra Club vows suit over chicken farms and dust they produce" by James Bruggers (Feb. 5, 2002). Tyson spokesman Ed Nicholson says there have been no comprehensive scientific studies to determine exactly how much excretory ammonia is produced and released in a typical broiler chicken operation, and there are no government agencies regulating this issue. Lack of government regulation is why the Sierra Club is taking action. According to the December 2001 issue of WATT PoultryUSA, "[E]veryone connected with the poultry industry agrees that we have a problem with too much manure." The "amount of waste product is tremendous and does not even consider the manure generated by over 270 million turkeys and 330 million laying hens" (p. 60). The amount cited is one ton of manure per thousand birds.

The uric acid (a nitrogen product) in chicken manure is the source of ammonia gases that are released into the atmosphere during decomposition. Concentration of chicken droppings causes a toxicity that would not otherwise exist. And studies have been done. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers published a number of scientific papers in the1980s identifying the parts per million of ammonia concentration in an average chicken house holding 20,000 birds as climbing as high as 200 ppm during the winter. 25 ppm is an innately harmful level for both humans and birds.

There are many scientific papers on the effects of ammonia in poultry houses, because ammonia is an economic problem (it increases bird mortality, impairs birds' immune systems, etc.), as well as an animal welfare problem: birds develop ammonia burned eyes, throats, and breasts. It poses a risk to human health as well, which is also documented.

Karen Davis, PhD

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization promoting the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more information, visit www.UPC-online.org..

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(UPC Letter Re:Suit Over Chicken Farms)

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