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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Poultry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #362917

Research Project: Enhancing Sustainability and Production Efficiency through Improved Management and Housing Design in Commercial Broilers

Location: Poultry Research

Title: Evaluation of biochar as a litter amendment for commercial broiler production

Author
item LINHOSS, JOHN - Mississippi State University
item Purswell, Joseph
item STREET, JASON - Mississippi State University
item ROWLAND, MATT - Mississippi State University

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2019
Publication Date: 10/10/2019
Citation: Linhoss, J., Purswell, J.L., Street, J., Rowland, M. 2019. Evaluation of biochar as a litter amendment for commercial broiler production. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 28(4):1089-1098. https://doi.org/10.3382/japr/pfz071..
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3382/japr/pfz071.

Interpretive Summary: Litter amendments are commonly used in commercial broiler production to improve litter quality and improve overall house conditions. While litter amendments used to limit formation of gaseous ammonia have been studied extensively, there has been little evaluation of materials to limit water activity in the litter. The large surface area and high porosity of biochar (BC), or charcoal that is used for environmental or agricultural applications, are features that make it a possible suitable litter amendment for commercial broiler applications. This study examined the influence of a pre-flock application of BC on broiler performance, health, and litter quality and determined the water holding capacity (WHC) of plain pine shavings (PS) and BC at varying mixtures by weight. Surface application of BC to PS at a rate of 0.97 kg/m2 did not influence performance, health, or litter nutrient content in male broilers reared to 35 d of age. The addition of BC to PS increased WHC and was influenced by BC particle size. Addition of BC at 10 to 20% by weight to PS increased WHC by 21.6% and 32.2%, respectively, over that of raw PS. The data herein indicate that BC used a litter amendment has no negative effects on performance health and may improve litter quality through increased water absorption.

Technical Abstract: Litter amendments are commonly used in commercial broiler production to improve litter quality and improve overall house conditions. While litter amendments used to limit formation of gaseous ammonia have been studied extensively, there has been little evaluation of materials to limit water activity in the litter. The large surface area and high porosity of biochar (BC), or charcoal that is used for environmental or agricultural applications, are features that make it a possible suitable litter amendment for commercial broiler applications. This study examined the influence of a pre-flock application of BC on broiler performance, health, and litter quality and determined the water holding capacity (WHC) of plain pine shavings (PS) and BC at varying mixtures by weight. Surface application of BC to PS at a rate of 0.97 kg/m2 did not influence performance, health, or litter nutrient content in male broilers reared to 35 d of age. The addition of BC to PS increased WHC and was influenced by BC particle size. Addition of BC at 10 to 20% by weight to PS increased WHC by 21.6% and 32.2%, respectively, over that of raw PS. The data herein indicate that BC used a litter amendment has no negative effects on performance health and may improve litter quality through increased water absorption.