Sustainable Organic Gardening

Charcoal and chickens

Charcoal For Chickens

It’s not the first thing that springs to mind when I hear the words ‘charcoal’ and ‘chicken’ together, but charcoal as a chicken feed supplement can provide real health benefits for your chooks.

Because animals’ water and feed can be exposed to contaminants – from rodents, flies or birds, for example – many poultry farmers are following an age-old practice of adding charcoal to drinking water or feed. In Europe, commercial activated charcoals have been specifically designed as an additive for cattle and poultry feed. The charcoal is able to absorb toxins from the food or water, improving hygiene and chook health. Better hygiene can also help prevent infections such as Salmonella in meat and eggs.

Wild animals will often visit sites where there have recently been fires and have been observed eating charcoal. Research suggests that they consume it for its medicinal, toxin-binding properties. While it has no nutritional value itself, charcoal contributes to keeping an animal’s digestive system healthy. It is a laxative and can help move the impurities it absorbs out of the body. If worms or worm eggs are present, it can to some degree help move them out of the body as well. Poultry feed containing 1-1.5% charcoal has resulted in increased laying rate, a longer laying period and increased egg weight. Charcoal in the diet will also reduce the odour of chook manure.

Free Range Chooks

So why not produce your own charcoal for the chooks? Charcoal produced from slow-burned (untreated) timber can be added to your flock’s food or just left where the chooks can scratch and peck at it as they please. Wood ash makes a good addition to their favourite dust-bathing spots as it has a very nice texture; the chooks will eat it too.

So, shovel out ashes and charcoal from your wood-fired oven or burn some logs or larger branches in an outdoor fireplace. Slow burning is essential to charcoal making: you can damp down a fire that is burning too quickly with some water. Once it’s all cooled down, crush it up a bit and throw a handful in with the poultry feed or where the chickens will scratch. Your feathered friends will thank you for it!

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Posted in Organic Gardening

8 Responses to “Charcoal and chickens”

  • onu daniel says:

    I love post as this because it helps farmers like us.

  • conniejo says:

    Such a great idea! We get our charcoal from at the best price. 17.00 per pound free shipping. I am definitely using this for my girls. Thanks

  • Jeff says:

    I have one of my little girls that has now been laying on the eggs for 14 days. Does this mean she will be having little bidies.

  • Kris Guffa says:

    Currently raising 21 birds. Having a bit of a conflict….the birds are a shared hobby with another person who insists on adding crushed charcoal briquettes to the feed. Would love some clarification on the differences between activated charcoal and good ol’ charcoal briquettes created from an unknown mixed source. I personally feel that the briquettes can’t be a good thing. Please provide some clarification on the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the benefits of activated charcoal but feel uneasy about the briquettes

    • Tm says:

      First off, I’m no expert, this is just a personal opinion.

      I would think, that since briquettes are intended to cook human food, that they would be suitable for animals that we eat as well. Of course, this all goes back to how much you trust the commercial food producers, hence why most of us are here.

      You could contact the company and see what their wood source is, and what if any additives are used to get the burn going.

  • Franceska says:

    Never heard this, what a great addition to the run area! What about burning logs and not letting burn completely? Like having half-charred logs in there. Would that work? Will chickens only eat from them if they are sick or need it? Thx for great info!!

  • Lisa says:

    OK, so wood ash + water = lye, a caustic agent. Please clarify how this doesn’t produce lye if left in the rain?

  • D says:



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