Using Microbes to Control Livestock Smell
Posted by Laresa Hays on
Unfortunately, raising livestock is usually a smelly business. This is due to the release of offensive gases, as well as ammonia in the urine, from the natural breakdown of food in the body.
How It Works
Livestock smell is as issue as old as civilization. In recent times, however, enterprising biologists discovered that microorganisms could break down organic waste in order to effectively reduce offensive odors. Purposefully placing large quantities of these desirable bacteria onto manure and even the animals themselves makes the breakdown process much less stinky – naturally and without the use of harsh chemicals.
A potent microbial inoculant can be used to keep livestock pastures, barns and other confinement areas from becoming overwhelming or dangerous. The beneficial bacteria break down the odorous compounds and can also be applied to cattle foot baths or directly on the animal so that organic matter breaking down on the animals’ coats doesn’t start to smell. All the loafing areas and surface areas where wastes spill should be regularly sprayed as well to suppress all the odors in the area.
Why Odor Control is Necessary
Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are two of the gases that are responsible for the strongest smells in confined livestock areas. Both of these gases can be dangerous when levels are high, and animals or humans that continually breathe them in can get sick, making ammonia and hydrogen sulfide odor control extremely important. The beneficial bacteria in microbial inoculants break down these products to less toxic byproducts that do not smell as strongly and are not harmful.
Other Options in Odor Control
Other agents that are used in combating smells from livestock may simply mask the scent. This makes it more pleasant to be around, but doesn’t remove the possibly damaging effects on the animals and people since the compounds responsible are still lingering in the air. Microbes actually break down the compounds from their more dangerous state into a less odoriferous and safer end product.
Keeping a livestock area so clean that it is completely free of odor is practically impossible, but many large-scale farms try. The downside of this method is that harsh cleaning products and chemicals can be just as bad for the animals and people as the waste they are used to remove. Beneficial bacteria are a naturally-occurring part of the environment that has no similar negative side effects.
Why Microbial Treatment is Best
Manure and other waste that is treated with beneficial bacteria makes great compost. Unlike manure tainted with chemicals, it is completely natural and will not leech toxins into the environment. Manure that is treated with beneficial bacteria can be applied to worms for further processing without any ill effects on them (worms actually eat bacteria!).
Microbial inoculants contain living organisms, so they must be applied appropriately or other chemicals in use can kill the bacteria. For example, when using in a cattle foot bath, they cannot be combined with copper sulfide. Copper sulfide is an antibacterial agent and does not differentiate between the harmful bacteria it is intended to kill and the beneficial microbes present in the inoculant.
How Beneficial Bacteria Aid the World
Beneficial bacteria play a large role in the lives of humans and animals. Many animals rely on certain types of bacteria to help them digest their food. Humans maintain beneficial bacteria on our skin that keeps other, more harmful bacteria from setting up shop. Some plants even grow special ‘homes’ in their roots so that bacteria which fix nitrogen (an essential element) will move in and share the bounty. Harnessing the power of these microorganisms has led to healthier, safer environments for livestock while simultaneously reducing the use of dangerous pesticides. Inoculants are safe for animals and humans, great for the environment and most importantly, they work. Healthier animals lead to better returns for farmers, which more than pays for the investment in purchasing the appropriate treatment.