Charcoal as a Supplement for Chickens

According to Casey Ritz, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension poultry scientist, if chickens eat a bit of charcoal it helps lower the amount of ammonia in their manure, which can lead to happier, healthier and more environmentally friendly chickens. Ritz already knew charcoal worked as an ammonia and odor reducer in chicken house bedding, and is now looking at the benefits of adding charcoal to feed at a rate of 1-2%.

Our October 2016 box featured Bird Charcoal from Charcoal House and 7 other products for chickens and keepers. Subscribe at:

High levels of ammonia in litter can affect a chicken’s growth and performance, and Ritz’s team found that it was more effective to mitigate ammonia inside the chicken, before it ever hits the ground.

Charcoal, which is already approved by the FDA for human consumption, could hold more benefits for poultry than just ammonia reduction. 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.

Charcoal has the ability to absorb toxins from poultry feed and water, improving poultry health. While charcoal has no nutritional value itself, it contributes to a healthy digestive system by moving the impurities it absorbs out of the body. If worms or worm eggs are present, it may help move them out of the body with other waste. Poultry feed containing 1-1.5% charcoal has been said to increase laying rate, laying period and egg weight.

Our Henny & Roo October 2016 box contains a 7oz. bag of activated charcoal from Charcoal House, LLC. For more information on this product, and to buy more, visit To subscribe to Henny & Roo, or to purchase a non-subscription product, visit

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