Numerous studies have been conducted to lower the cost and raise the standard of livestock feeding. It has been demonstrated that adding biochar to the diets of livestock has a number of positive effects, including improved animal health, increased nutrient intake effectiveness, and increased productivity. Animals gain weight more quickly when biochar is added to their diet, which increases feed efficiency.
Depending on the type of animal, it is a well-known fact that the feeding related costs along with the price of the land are two of the most expensive costs of an animal farm. Many studies have been carried out in order to improve the quality of livestock feeding and reduce the cost. It is shown that introducing biochar into the diets of livestock leads to many benefits such as enhancing animal health, advancing nutrient intake efficiency and therefore productivity.
When incorporating into the animal food intake, biochar improves feed efficiency and boost weight gain of animals through below mechanisms:
1. It enlarges the habitat surface area of the gut on which beneficial microbes attach and get to work digesting and cycling nutrients to be absorbed by the animal;
2. Among these beneficial microbes colonising the biochar are the bugs that feed on methanogens (the energy intensive bacteria that produce methane);
3. The biochar adsorbs toxins in the gut (e.g. aflatoxins, which readily accumulate on hay feed, are stored in the fat of grazing livestock – and subsequently consumed by humans) and other compounds in the digestive tract that impact the health of animals, and the quality of the products they produce.
There are many international real-life experiences that have incorporated biochar into cattle, poultry and other farm animals feeding routines and reported highly adsorbent qualities suppressing intestinal pathogens, improving gut health, increase feed efficiency and weight gain of animals. A documented example of using biochar in livestock diet in Australia is in a farm from Manjimup, Western Australia where feeding the cattle about 300gper cow per day of biochar for a number of years and pairing it with intruding dung beetles onto the farm is not only improving cattle health and soil fertility but the farm overall profitability.
Table 1 shows the nutrient analysis of Biochar.
Managing the livestock waste in farms and barns is one of the most challenging and costly issues that need to be addressed. Poor management of this issue could turn the farm into a breeding ground for bacteria; Also, moisture, odours and toxic gases like ammonia are produced, leading to significant environmental and social impacts. Biochar has the capability to absorb large amounts of moisture, and this feature makes it a great component for bedding material. Biochar has the ability of locking in moisture, organic and inorganic nitrogen compounds. The nitrogen adsorption and the continuous drying of the area deprive the microbial pathogens of their nutrient base and reduce toxic emissions of ammonia.
It is also shown that using biochar as bedding material helps with lowering emissions of the potent greenhouse gas – N2O from manure, and reducing disease from livestock pathogens