Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Journal of the ASABE Vol. 66(4): 851-863.


Open access.


In August 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released draft models to estimate daily NH3, H2S, PM10, PM2.5, and TSP emissions from egg-layer houses (high-rise and manure-belt) and manure storage using inputs of daily mean ambient temperature, relative humidity (RH), and hen inventory. These models were developed from refined datasets generated by the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study fieldwork completed in 2009. Notably, they do not include data for cage-free housing. Currently, 66% of U.S. laying hens are housed in cages; thus, these models, if adopted, will have a substantial impact on the U.S. egg industry. This study evaluated the EPA draft models’ robustness and assessed model outputs for egg production systems under differing climate scenarios. The EPA draft models distort emission factors for bird inventories to be lower or higher than those used to develop the models. With inventory held constant, the marginal influence of ambient temperature and RH on daily emissions varied substantially, with some values falling below the measurement detection threshold while others exceeding literature findings. For twelve representative U.S. locations representing differing climates, substantial differences in emission factors were found for bird inventories outside the range in the database. Annual emissions estimated from inventories used to develop the EPA models also varied by location. We conclude that the current draft EPA emission models cannot be used to the degree of precision that is suitable to apply to a wide range of layer facilities, particularly cage-free systems. Revisions are suggested to accommodate a greater range of climates, laying hen facility types, and inventories for practical emission estimations.