Past few years of research have shown that the addition of biochar to animal feed may have the potential to offer a number of invaluable benefits. Among them:
Biochar has been shown to promote improved digestion in animals. As an adsorbent, Biochar has been shown to lock up toxins in the digestive tract. This maintains the balance of microbial activity and avoids subsequent damage to the animal’s digestive system, also aiding to increase immunity. One study administered a charcoal-sauerkraut mix to cows suffering from chronic botulism and found it could be a useful tool in reducing chronic botulism.  The addition of biochar to poultry feed has been shown to improve the absorption of energy from feed, ultimately improving the efficiency of the feed.Increased growth rates and final body weights in broilers as a result of biochar have also been documented, though it is also recognized that too much biochar can have the opposite effect. Methane is produced in the rumen of animals such as cows as part of their natural digestive process, a process referred to as enteric fermentation. Methane production from ruminants is recognized as a major contributor to greenhouse gases, and as a result, has become a growing topic of research. A 2012 study conducted on enteric methane production showed that the addition of biochar in cattle feed provided a habitat for methane oxidation and microbial activity in the rumen, ultimately reducing net methane production.
A cattle and avocado farmer in Australia began feeding his cows biochar with the intention of adding it to his soils. He relied on dung beetles to bury the biochar-laced manure deep in the ground. After integrating biochar into the soil, he was able to omit the use of fertilizers on pastures due to improved soil fertility. His cows also showed improvements.
As an adsorbent, biochar can capture and hold gas particles. As such, it has also been investigated for improving hygiene in chicken coops. Coop hygiene has long been a challenge among producers. With many animals in the same space and in constant contact with their excrement, coops are an easy host for pathogens, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. To complicate matters, ammonia is produced from the excrement, yielding another set of problems; ammonia can pose environmental problems, is toxic and highly odorous, and can result in many adverse effects on the health of the flock. In addition to reducing the moisture content of litter (another major help in the effort to keep coops clean), adding biochar to litter can significantly reduce this harmful gas. Similarly, the use of biochar in litter allows for a reduction in lime, which in turn reduces the pH of the litter, and subsequently, reduces ammonia emissions.
Gerlach H, Gerlach A, Schrödl W, Schottdorf B, Haufe S et al., (2014) Oral Application of Charcoal and Humic acids to Dairy Cows Influences Clostridium botulinum Blood Serum Antibody Level and Glyphosate Excretion in Urine. J Clin Toxicol 4:186. doi: 10.4172/2161-0495.1000186
Leng R A, Preston T R and Inthapanya S 2012: Biochar reduces enteric methane and improves growth and feed conversion in local “Yellow” cattle fed cassava root chips and fresh cassava foliage. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Volume 24, Article #199. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd24/11/leng24199.htm
Gerlach H, Schmidt HP: Biochar in poultry farming, the Biochar Journal 2014, Arbaz, Switzerland. ISSN 2297-1114. www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct/10 Version of 01 th August 2014. Accessed: 24.05.2017