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Lagoon Management in Animal Agriculture

Over the years, agriculture has become more efficient, meaning we can feed more people on fewer resources, less waste, and fewer emissions. According to the USDA, land usage has decreased by 24% and labor by 75% over the last 65 years. As the population continues to grow, communities are starting to encroach closer to farmland. Most folks like the idea and serenity of the countryside, but not all appreciate the smell that can come along with it. Just as land and labor efficiencies have advanced over the years, odor management has followed suit in the development of new technologies.

Agricultural lagoons

The main purpose of a lagoon is to store and treat organic waste found in wastewater. There are a couple of different types of lagoons, including anaerobic and aerobic lagoons. Most farms use anaerobic lagoons, as they require fewer input costs and work well in rural locations. Two layers of waste are formed in anaerobic lagoons: the sludge layer and effluent layer. The sludge layer is the portion of heavy organic particulates that sink to the bottom. The effluent layer is the water on top, which is extremely important in the regulation of pH and proper degradation of organic matter. In addition to primary lagoon uses, the effluent has additional applications. For example, portions of this layer can be pumped off to use in flush systems in barns or as fertilizer on fields (Texas Animal Manure Management Issues).

How do lagoons work?

Treatment of anaerobic lagoons involves stabilization of the waste, which is a two-step process (EPA).

#1 – The acid phase: Acid production must take place to produce acetate, propionate, and lactate. 

#2 – Methane production: The acids mentioned previously are converted to acetate and are then used to produce methane. 

Methane production is the end result of waste stabilization. If volatile fatty acids are found in high concentration, the lagoon is not working properly and requires further treatment to stabilize pH.

AgriGro’s Innovative Technology

Indigo® is a wastewater treatment designed to reduce odors and enhance biodegradation of organic matter found in lagoons. This state of the art technology enhances methanogenic bacterial production to control odors and stabilize lagoon organic matter. 

While most lagoons used in agriculture are anaerobic, this product is extremely versatile and can be used in both anaerobic and aerobic lagoons. With Indigo®, you will see a difference in odor within only 48 hours after application. Increase the lifetime productivity of your lagoon with the help of Indigo®.




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SOURCES:  Wang, S. L., Nehring, R., and Mosheim, R. 2018. Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: 1948-2015. In United States Department of Agriculture- Economic Research Service. Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2018/march/agricultural-productivity-growth-in-the-united-states

To Creep Feed Or Not To Creep Feed…

We’re into the cooler months here in the States. Calving season is starting up, which means producers are starting to think about winter feeding programs. Will you feed hay? Supplement corn? Provide protein tubs? What about the calves? Weaning season is just around the corner, which means creep feed is on the brain.

What is creep feeding?

Creep feed is a feed provided to calves prior to weaning to let calves become slowly accustomed to feed. These feeds are typically fed in self-feeders with gates small enough for the calves to fit through, but too small for cows to wiggle into.

Why creep feed?

Creep feeding calves encourages them to consume feed prior to weaning, which decreases stress during weaning, as the calves are already familiar with the new feed source. Additionally, starting calves on grain earlier in life increases both marbling and weaning weights. Vitamins and minerals can also be included in creep feeds to ensure adequate intake.

Nutritive composition

Creep feeds usually range between 13 to 15% protein and have moderate levels of energy. These levels of protein are required to aid in proper growth and development. Low starch energy sources are often used to provide energy while promoting healthy rumen development. Additionally, molasses is often used to decrease dust while providing a sweet smell and flavor, which enhances palatability.

Animal behavior and creep feed

When provided the chance, cattle are picky eaters. They will start with the most palatable option, starting with milk, then creep feed, then last to available forages. Adequate roughage intake is important in calf rumen development, so creep feeds will oftentimes have a fibrous roughage source included, such as cottonseed hulls in case calves fill up prior to consuming forages.

Weaning with AgriGro

NutriZyme® is an all-natural spray-on additive applied to feed to enhance some of the most important factors of creep feed. Some, but not all of these factors include…

  • Improved weaning weights
  • Increased appetite and intake
  • Enhanced disease resistance
  • Overall gut health. 

Get the most out of your feed with NutriZyme®.




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Prebiotics in the Poultry Industry

In poultry production, bird health is greatly influenced by the microbial communities present in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and the surrounding environment (i.e., bedding). The composition and diversity of these communities fluctuate tremendously throughout a growing period and must remain balanced to ensure proper nutrition, development, and disease suppression/bird immunity. Imbalances in the microbiota (a condition known as dysbiosis) can lead to the weakening of intestinal walls in the GIT, reduced nutrient digestibility, enteritis and diarrhea, and other consequences that diminish bird performance and limit a grower’s return on investment (Shang et al. 2018). Dysbiosis is a relatively common condition and can be triggered by the following factors: 

  • Nutritional imbalance
  • Poor management
  • Host genetics
  • Environmental stress
  • Increased abundance of harmful microorganisms and metabolites
  • Mycotoxins 

Dr. Edgar Oviedo, Professor of Broiler Nutrition and Management at North Carolina State University, suggests that three intersecting approaches may be used to maintain equilibrium within the gut microbiome of poultry: (i) mitigation of environmental stress; (ii) avoidance of malnutrition; and (iii) inclusion of feed additives, with a growing emphasis placed on the latter (Oviedo-Rondón). 

Non-antibiotic feed additives currently in the marketplace include…

  • Probiotics (live microbes)
  • Prebiotics (biomolecules that promote the growth of beneficial microbes)
  • Phytobiotics (plant-derived performance enhancers)
  • Nutritional supplements (enzymes, herb extracts, etc.)

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are among the most intensively studied feed additives and have been proven repeatedly to positively impact the microbiota present in the GIT and fecal matter. For example, various oligosaccharides have been documented to increase the abundance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus (beneficial bacteria) in the colon of different hosts as well as suppress pathogenic bacteria (Escherichia coli and Clostridium spp.) (Shang et al. 2018; Jung et al. 2008; Xu et al. 2003; Nywang and Gibson 1993). Additionally, carbohydrate-based prebiotics enhance nutrient digestibility, modulate intestinal tissue homeostasis, and help mitigate grower/consumer exposure to pathogens (Shang et. al 2018; Yang et al. 2009). The plethora of studies generated by the scientific community collectively demonstrates that prebiotics serve as an effective tool against dysbiosis, ensuring a balanced microbiome and continual bird health throughout a growing period.

The AgriGro® Difference…

AgriGro® is a prebiotic technology leader for agricultural use, providing a line of products that promote balanced microbial activity within the bird GIT and bed layer. Third-party research and real-world employment have demonstrated that IndigoLT® and NutriZyme®, two products offered by AgriGro®, work independently and in conjunction to increase the abundance of beneficial poultry microorganisms (i.e., Bifidobacterium), mitigate pathogens (i.e., Staphylococcus spp.), decrease mortality rate, and prevent wet litter, altogether improving flock performance and minimizing the onset of dysbiosis.

For more information about IndigoLT® and NutriZyme®, click below.








VIEW PREBIOTICS

Sources:  

Shang Y, Kumar S, Oakley B, Kim WK. Chicken gut microbiota: importance and detection technology. Front Vet Sci. (2018) 5:254.
Oviedo-Rondón, E. Dysbacteriosis, its causes and its impact. (https://www.dsm.com/content/dam/dsm/anh/en_US/documents/Dysbacteriosis,%20its%20causes%20and%20its%20impact.pdf)
Jung SJ, Houde R, Baurhoo B, Zhao X, Lee BH. Effects of galactooligosaccharides and a Bifidobacteria lactis-based probiotic strain on the growth performance and fecal microflora of broiler chickens. Poult Sci. (2008) 87:1694–9.
Xu ZR, Hu CH, Xia MS, Zhan XA, Wang MQ. Effects of dietary fructooligosaccharide on digestive enzyme activities, intestinal microflora and morphology of male broilers. Poult Sci. (2003) 82:1030–6.
Nywang X, Gibson GR. Effects of the in vitro fermentation of oligofructose and inulin by bacteria growing in the human large intestine. J Appl Bacteriol. (1993) 75:373–80.
Yang Y, Iji PA, Choct M. Dietary modulation of gut microflora in broiler chickens: a review of the role of six kinds of alternatives to in-feed antibiotics. World Poult Sci J. (2009) 65:97.  

Preventing Harmful Water Factors in Poultry Production

Water Functions

Numerous factors play a role in poultry performance. These factors include equipment, management practices that help with the fight against ammonia, house environment such as improving litter quality, and housing type. Enhancing any of these daily operations is important, but water quality may be the most critical. 

Water is needed for bird consumption, facility sanitation, and reducing air temperature, and is an essential nutrient in bird nutrition and metabolism. Water consumed by the bird is used for:

  • body temperature regulation
  • enzymatic and chemical reactions in the body
  • lubrication of joints and organs
  • nutrient transportation.

The necessity of providing a plentiful supply and sufficient access to water is well understood, but the importance of water quality on performance is often overlooked and misunderstood.

Harmful Factors

Poor water quality may interfere with bird digestion and subsequent bird performance. Bacteria, fungi, minerals, molds, and water additives interact in the water source and within piping and drinkers to impede management practices necessary to ensure the best quality water for your bird’s peak performance. Bacteria should not be present in drinking water in the ideal situation. Their presence often comes with contamination by organic materials. The presence of coliform bacteria in drinking water is typically from fecal contamination resulting from runoff to surface or groundwater supplies. High levels of total dissolved solids cause the most harmful effects in poultry.

The primary components contributing to total dissolved solids include magnesium, calcium, and sodium salts. The pH of your water is also critical. Water with a pH of 7 is neutral. A pH of less than 7 indicates acidity, and a pH greater than 7 indicates alkalinity. Water with a high pH can clog watering systems because of excessive mineral levels, primarily magnesium and calcium. Water with a low pH can be unpalatable.

What can you do to help prevent these harmful factors?

(wattagnet.com)
  • Change filters regularly. Clogged filters restrict water flow to the drinker and cooling systems. Sediment and other particulates can lead to water nipples leaking, which can negatively affect litter quality. 
  • Conduct water tests. All farms should have their water tested thoroughly. The quality of your water can fluctuate during periods of drought or heavy rain. During these times, additional water tests will ensure that water lines continue to give adequate water volume for both the cooling systems and the birds. 
  • Flush water lines regularly. Perform a high-pressure flush on water lines between each flock and after adding supplements through the medicator. 
  • Supplement and improve water effectiveness by adding NutriZyme. NutriZyme® is an all-natural water and feed additive that can positively affect digestive function by promoting the diverse microbial population in the gut of poultry, giving birds a stronger immune system when dealing with various factors.
  • When used as a daily dose of 16 oz. of NutriZyme® into 5 gallons of water and set medicator to 1 oz./gallon (1:128), it’s designed to improve animal health and performance. Working in conjunction with the importance of good water quality. NutriZyme® will enhance your bird’s gut health, feed conversion, disease resistance, energy and vigor, skin, paw, and leg integrity. 

In conclusion, managing for the highest water quality will have the most significant impact on your bird production.  Overlooking these harmful factors can, and will, affect your bottom line. 

Following the simple steps above will make all the difference in the water quality you give your birds.  Coupled with enhancing your bird’s immune system by supporting gut health and disease resistance, you can have the added peace of mind that you are giving your house what it needs to thrive with more profit back to you at settlement time.

Check out what one grower had to say…

“I started using NutriZyme® about one and a half years ago. At that time, I was becoming concerned about the limited use of antibiotics. Some of the issues I was facing… birds going off feed at 3-4 weeks old, my mortality was going up, and the birds were very sizey. This last issue continued until market time creating birds that weighed anywhere from 8 – 16 lbs. We began by spraying the feedlines with NutriZyme®. We observed that the birds responded very well to the product and we started to see fewer gut issues in the birds. With less gut issues and the birds not going off feed, this meant more profit at settlement time. Having seen positive results from the NutriZyme® feed additive, we also began to treat the litter with IndigoLT®. This treatment was to reinforce the placement of good enzymes in the birds’ environment, while slowing the ammonia and keeping the litter dryer. At this time, both products are in use with positive results in bird performance and profit in the flock settlements. Also, I have not had to use any antibiotics in the last year.”

ATKINSON TURKEY FARM – HARRISON, AR

Contact a rep to learn more about adding NutriZyme® into your poultry production.




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Sources:

“Poultry Drinking Water Primer” by University of Georgia Extension, Apr 04, 2006, Updated Apr 14, 2015

“Water Quality Critical to Broiler Performance” by Tom Tabler, Ph.D., Extension Professor, Poultry Science; Jessica Wells, Extension Instructor, Poultry Science; and Wei Zhai, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Poultry Science.  2019 by Mississippi State University

Ruminant Nutrition – Back to the Basics

Nutrient requirements of a ruminant will vary over the course of its lifetime, but regardless of producer goals, stage of production, or management, ruminants will always require these key nutrients:

  • Protein
  • Energy
  • Fiber
  • Vitamins & minerals

Protein

Protein is a chain of nitrogenous compounds called amino acids. Protein supplementation helps in a number of processes including muscle deposition, frame and organ development, and increased fiber digestion.

Energy

Energy comes in many forms, but the most commonly thought of is starch, as that found in corn. Energy is important in fat deposition and is deposited differently when fed at different points in life. For example, high energy diets fed from weaning through the growing period lead to more intramuscular fat development. More back fat accumulation occurs when high energy diets are fed later in life, through the finishing period.

Fiber

Fiber is a structural molecule made up of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, which are difficult to digest. When ruminants “chew their cud” they are chewing already partially digested feed to decrease particle size. This allows for more surface area, so the ruminal “bugs” are able to digest it more effectively.

One of the important aspects of fiber in the ruminant diet is the roughage or “scratch factor” it provides. Fiber sources, such as hay, will scratch the rumen wall, which increases the surface area and growth of papillae along the rumen wall. The larger papillae are in number and size, the greater surface area there is to absorb nutrients.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are vital for animal health, development, and reproduction. While found in all feed sources, requirements of essential vitamins and minerals are not usually met through the basal diet, and need to be provided through loose range mineral, mineral tubs, or through a supplement.

Supplements & Additives

Additives such as mold inhibitors and binders can be applied to feed sources to help with feed quality through delivery and storage. Additional feed additives can be beneficial to animals, such as vitamins and minerals, medications, and natural supplements to increase efficiency and can be provided through feed, water, or blocks.

Nutritional Balance

It is vital that all nutrients are balanced with one another, but a key player in growth and development is the balance between protein and energy. How much protein vs. energy the animal will need depends on a number of factors but is necessary for maximum growth and reaching full genetic potential. Think about it in terms of filling a barrel with water. All of the protein “boards” are one height, but the energy “boards” are cut short. It does not matter how much water you try to put into the barrel, the energy “boards” are preventing maximal water fill. In this example, water signifies potential growth and production limited by an imbalance in nutrients.

How can AgriGro® help you achieve your goals?

NutriZyme® is an all-natural water and feed additive that enhances healthy gut microbes, therefore increasing digestion and efficiency. A healthy gut environment helps you get more out of the feed you provide and enhances the ability to reach proper balance among nutrients. The combination of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein found in NutriZyme® improves overall health and vigor, weaning weights, fertility, and intake in cattle.

To learn more about AgriGro®’s Livestock product line click here.




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