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


Date of this Version


Document Type



K. Hales et al. Atmospheric Environment 100 (2015) 20e24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.10.037


U.S. government works are not subject to copyright.


Odor emissions from livestock production have become increasingly important in the past decade. Odors derived from animal feeding operations are caused by odorous VOC emitted from the mixture of feces and urine, as well as feed and silage which may be experiencing microbial fermentation. Distillers grains are a by-product of corn grain fermentation used to produce fuel ethanol, and this industry has grown rapidly throughout the U.S. in past years. Therefore, the use of wet distillers grains with solubles (WDGS) in feedlot cattle diets has also increased. The objective of this research was to determine specific VOC emissions from feces and urine or a mixture of both, from cattle fed steam flaked or dry-rolled corn (DRC)-based diets containing either 0% or 30% WDGS. Flux of dimethyl trisulfide was greater from feces of cattle fed DRC than steam-flaked corn (SFC) diets. No other differences in flux from feces were detected across dietary treatments for phenol, 4-methylphenol, indole, skatole, dimethyl disulfide, and flux of volatile fatty acids (VFA) such as acetic, propionic, isobutyric, butyric, isovaleric, and valeric acids (P > 0.15). Flux of skatole, acetic acid, and valeric acid from urine was greater for cattle fed SFC than DRC diets (P < 0.05). Moreover, dimethyl disulfide flux was greater for cattle fed DRC vs. SFC diets (P = 0.05). When evaluating WDGS inclusion in the diet, flux of acetic acid and heptanoic acid from urine was greater when cattle were fed diets containing 0% WDGS than 30% WDGS (P < 0.05). When combining urine and feces in the ratio in which they were excreted from the animal, flux of propionic acid was greater when cattle were fed DRC vs. SFC diets (P = 0.05). Based on these results, the majority of the VOC, VFA, and odor flux from cattle feeding operations is from the urine. Therefore, dietary strategies to reduce odor from cattle feeding facilities should primarily focus on reducing excretion of odorous compounds in the urine.