Utilizing Zeolite for Feed & Bedding

Including zeolite in animal feed produces an overall improvement in the growth and health of animals. It is a non-toxic, environmentally friendly odor control agent and ammonia remover that is safe to use in areas occupied by trainers and staff.


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Evidence and data collected by researchers indicate that zeolite is a successful odor control agent because of its ability to absorb and adsorb liquids, gases, and suspended matter. Essentially, the mineral serves as a sponge that drinks in liquids (absorption), and in the process, matter and gases adhere to the surface of internal pores (adsorption). These two properties work together to combat odors in animal litter areas.

Ammonium in liquid and solid wastes is constantly undergoing conversion to ammonia gas. Zeolite controls odors by absorbing moisture from waste and adsorbing the ammonia produced by microbial activity on the liquids. As an added benefit, natural zeolite improves the quality of manure that is used as a fertilizer because it prevents the loss of plant-available nitrogen that is released from solid waste when ammonia vaporizes. Instead of being lost to the atmosphere, nitrogen is instead returned to the soil.

Natural zeolite is a non-toxic, environmentally friendly product and is safe for use in areas that are occupied by trainers and staff, and animals.

Natural Zeolite as an Environmentally  Friendly Deodorizer

Over the past three decades, researchers have examined how natural zeolites can be applied in barns and feedlots to combat odors and reduce ammonia levels. Odors emitted from these environments often result from ammonia and sulfur compounds that generate from manure handling or storage facilities. Ammonia poses additional challenges because of the stress and irritation it causes to reparatory tracts and mucous membranes, both of which can compromise the overall health of livestock, horses, and poultry.

A study by Mumpton found that spreading 25 tons of zeolite per month on the floors of a swine-raising facility absorbed excess liquid waste and reduced the moisture content of excrement. Buildings were described as dry, clean, and significantly less odorous.

Koelliker examined the use of zeolite in poultry houses to reduce ammonia concentrations in the air. Essentially, the researchers constructed a device that allowed them to pass ammonia-laden air over six stacked trays holding fine (1.17 to 2.36 mm) and coarse (2.36 to 4.70 mm) zeolite beads. The device removed 15 to 45 percent of ammonia in a contact time of 1 second.

A study by Kithome also found that zeolite is effective at reducing ammonia vapors. The researchers added natural zeolite (38 percent weight) to poultry droppings and yielded a 44 percent reduction in ammonia loss. As an added benefit, the droppings treated by zeolite contained higher nitrogen levels, as it was not released from the waste in the form of ammonia.

Karamanlis fed a group of 5,200 broiler chickens a basil diet supplemented with zeolite and also mixed zeolite with sawdust used as bedding material. The objective of the study was to examine the effect of clinoptilolite on the performance of broilers and on the quality of their litter. Results indicated that chickens on the zeolite diet and bedding grew at a faster rate and scientists noted a decrease in the level of organic content in litter samples. Overall, the mean ammonia concentration in the litter was significantly lower when compared to other groups of broilers. Researchers concluded that the incorporation of clinoptilolite in feed and bedding had a positive effect on growth and the quality of the litter.

Because zeolite absorbs liquids, the minerals do not become slippery when wet, which is an important safety feature in any structure that contains wood floors or solid rubber mats. Zeolite’s absorption capabilities also create efficiencies when cleaning barns or stalls; it is not necessary to completely dry out facilities when using zeolite as the mineral absorbs moisture and odors upon contact. To control odors between cleanings, zeolite can be sprinkled on observed wet spots or excrement. Zeolite is nontoxic to people and animals; it does not cause harm if it is ingested, touches the skin, or comes into contact with the eyes. 

Zeolite as an Animal Feed Additive

Zeolite is used widely by livestock farmers as an animal feed additive for beef cattle, dairy cows, swine, poultry (broilers & egg production), and sheep. Since zeolite is the world’s only naturally occurring, negatively charged, mineral a great number of benefits in the feed process can result from the basic chemistry of the zeolite as an animal feed additive.

The introduction of zeolite as an animal feed additive provides many rewards such as improved animal growth and weight gain by increased food conversion rate efficiencies. Zeolite is also a rumen buffer for the total digestive tract of high-performance dairy cattle. It can help with the reduction of scours, acidosis, diarrhea, enteritis, and other gastrointestinal diseases.

Zeolite has a strong affinity for ammonium which aids in digestion and nutrient absorption and improves the value of milk, gradable eggs, and the meat index. It also improves the dispersion of feed ration ingredients by reducing agglomeration. A few more benefits are better phosphate utilization, the enhanced effect of carbamide in cattle feed, reduced acidosis, improved bone growth, and reduced mortality.

Zeolite has EU approval for use in the swine and poultry industry. Though not currently approved in North America for mycotoxin binding, zeolite is the standard for a mycotoxin binder in many countries and also Europe by absorbing a broad Spectrum of toxins. It also helps control aflatoxins in animal feed which lowers mortality rates from digestive stress and reduces the need for antibiotics and medicines. In Europe, antibiotics are not used when using zeolite in feed.

Zeolite Supplement as Non-Protein Nitrogens in Ruminant Animal Feed

Many animals such as hogs and poultry need preformed protein from plants and animals. Ruminant animals such as dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep, and goats have microorganisms in their first stomach (rumen) that make protein from simple nitrogen compounds. They convert the non-protein nitrogen (NPN) to ammonia and then convert the ammonia to amino acids, which are then converted to proteins. This creates the following toxic symptoms such as bloating, labored breathing, and lack of coordination when the electrolyte imbalance affects the brain.

When zeolite is included in animal feed additives it adsorbs much of the ammonia generated from the NPN. It acts as a reservoir and slow-release mechanism for nitrogen. This can allow the feeding of up to 4 to 6 times more NPN. During rumination, a portion of the contents of the first stomach is returned to the mouth for additional chewing and saliva additions. Saliva introduced during mastication contains sodium which replaces the ammonium. This results in the slow release of the un-reacted ammonia which is then converted to protein amino acids by the microorganisms. Zeolite also provides a reduction of dicalcium phosphate by up to 50%, therefore, providing a health benefit and pollution prevention.


Barn Management and Control of Odours - Lemay

La Roca Magica: Uses of natural zeolites in agriculture and industry - Mumpton

A Review of Literature Concerning Odors, Ammonia, and Dust from Broiler Production Facilities - Ullman

Effect of Adding Alum or Zeolite to Dairy Slurry on Ammonia Volatilization and Chemical Composition - Lefcourt, et al.

Managing Ammonia Emissions from Dairy Cows by Amending Slurry with Alum or Zeolite or by Diet Modification - Meisinger, et al.

Clinoptilolite Zeolite Influence on Nitrogen in a Manure-Amended Sandy Agricultural Soil - D. D. Tarkalson, et al.

The Effect of a Natural Zeolite (Clinoptilolite) on the Performance of Broiler Chickens and the Quality of Their Litter - X. Karamanli, et al.

Effects of dietary Zeolite supplementation on milk yield and composition and blood minerals status in lactating dairy cows - Khouloud Khachlouf, et al.