U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Applied Engineering in Agriculture Vol. 28(3): 423-430, 2012, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers ISSN 0883-8542.


U. S. government work.


Air quality is becoming a pressing issue for beef feedlot producers. Feeding practices influence the excretion of starch, fiber, nitrogen (N), and sulfur (S) in manure, thereby affecting nutrient content and the production of ammonia (NH3) and odorous compounds. Wet distillers grains with solubles (WDGS) are a common and economical ingredient in feedlot diets. WDGS are high in protein, fiber, phosphorus (P), and S but low in starch. The objective of this study was to compare NH3 concentration in the air and nutrients and volatile organic compounds (VOC) concentration in manure between two dietary treatments fed to feedlot cattle. Five pens of feedlot cattle were fed diets containing 14% to 35% WDGS and five pens were fed a corn-based diet with no ethanol byproducts (Control). Each pen had twelve sampling locations (N = 120) where air and manure samples were collected from the feedlot surface. Air samples were analyzed for NH3 concentration. Manure samples were analyzed for dry matter, pH, volatile solids, VOC, and nutrient composition (N, P, and S). Concentrations of P and S in manure and NH3 in the air were higher in pens fed WDGS compared to pens fed the control diet. Concentrations of VOC were similar across both treatments.