Use of biochar as feed supplements for animal farming
The production and application of biochar has become increasingly popular in the past 10 years. Biochar has similar characteristics to charcoal and activated charcoal: they are all pyrogenic carbonaceous matter derived from organic carbon-rich materials and produced by pyrolysis. Studies related to the incorporation of biochar in animal feed are limited. This review summarizes major studies related to the use of biochar as a feed additive for ruminants (cattle and goats), pigs, poultry (chickens and ducks) and fish. Documented positive responses to biochar supplementation include improved growth performance, blood profiles, egg yield, ability to resist pathogens including gut pathogenic bacteria and a reduction of methane production by ruminant animals. In addition, the high sorption capacity of biochar efficiently aids the removal of pollutants and toxins from animals’ bodies as well as from farm environments. It is expected that there will be increasing use of biochar in animal farming. The potential use of biochar in the medical and human health sectors should also be explored.