New to chickens, or looking to improve what you’re doing?
I was talking this week with a friend who’s raised chickens for years very successfully. They’re beautiful birds. AND, she uses a good deal of Corid every spring when she moves them from the brooder to the chicken tractors in the yard. Why?
It’s the bane of all farmers sooner of later. The coddicia protozoa is a little parasitic being that lives in the soil inderterminately (a.k.a. nearly forever) and can wreak havoc on young animals intestines. We’ve had in goats and chickens so far. The only cure known to conventional ag is a product called Corid that acts like a wormer medicine to get the animal through it’s vulnerable stage.
What conventional ag and my very experienced friend don’t know about is BIOCHAR.
We replaced gallons of Corid with a bit of biochar sprinkled on the chickens’ feed daily. Biochar is like activated charcoal and helps bind the protozoa and escort it to the exit. Sometimes we innoculate it with compost and it unloads beneficial bacterias at the same time. For our naturally immune deficient meat birds, it also shaves 1-2 weeks off our finishing time. Who doesn’t want that?? My friend, for one, has signed up.
Biochar for Pasture Poultry: A Natural Way to Improve Health and Productivity
Spring is here, and that means it’s time to start thinking about your pastured poultry production. If you’re new to chickens, or looking to upgrade your process, I’ve got a great video for you.
In this video, I show you how we use biochar on Baker’s Green Acres. Biochar is a great way to improve your soil health and reduce the risk of coccidiosis in your chickens.
I also share some tips on how to use biochar to improve your pastured poultry production. So be sure to check it out!
What is Biochar?
Biochar is a type of charcoal that is made from organic matter, such as wood chips, bones, agricultural waste, or even human waste. It is made by heating the organic matter in a low-oxygen environment, which causes it to off gas everything but the carbon without burning. Check out the whole process in this playlist: The Biochar Chronicles
Biochar has a number of benefits for soil health. You may have heard of it as “terra preta” (which has an extensive google listing). This is the secret tool the ancient farmers used to provide more than enough food for their communities in poor soiled places like the Amazon. The perks of biochar for your soil include:
- It can help to improve the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients.
- It can help to reduce the risk of soil erosion.
- It can help to reduce the amount of harmful toxins in the soil.
- It can help to improve the soil’s ability to support plant growth.
How Can Biochar Help Pasture Poultry?
Biochar, like activated charcoal for you the farmer, can help pasture poultry in a number of similar ways, including:
- It can help to reduce the risk of coccidiosis, a common poultry disease.
- It can help to improve the taste of eggs and meat as the birds retain more nutrients.
- It can help to increase egg production.
- It can help to increase meat production. We’ve successfully shaved 1-2 weeks off our cornish cross meat bird production time without changing anything else. This saves a huge amount of time and expense in this farm enterprise.
How to Use Biochar for Pasture Poultry
There are a few different ways to use biochar for pasture poultry.
One way is to add it to your chicken’s feed. If you’re adding biochar to your chicken’s feed, you’ll need to use a small amount of fine ground char. A good starting point is to add 1-2 tablespoons per gallon of feed. You can increase the amount of biochar as needed. We just sprinkle a handful or so along the top of the trough feeders when we feed. If your birds are mobbing it, they need more. If they eat it but also pick around it, you’ve nailed the amount just right. This is ideal for meat chickens who love their feed and aren’t avid foragers.
You can also add it to the bedding or soil in your chicken’s grazing area. If you’re adding biochar to the soil in your chicken’s grazing area, you’ll need to use a larger amount. You can also use larger chunks, a medium grind, as the birds will just peck at it as needed and scratch it into the soil. A good starting point is to add 1-2 pounds per acre. You can increase the amount of biochar as needed. This works well for laying chickens, who are happy to pick and choose from a natural smorgasboard and don’t need the biochar as much. This enhances both bird and soil effectively.