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Use of biochar by sheep: Impacts on Nutrition and Diet Selection

Background: The ability of biochars to bind to different chemicals makes it appealing for its use in animal feeding systems. Including biochar in animal diets may enhance the efficiency of nutrient utilization, reducing environmental impacts and increasing the rates of detoxification and elimination of xenobiotics; benefits that ultimately will improve animal productivity, health and welfare of livestock. One key finding is the ability of biochar to reduce methane emissions in ruminants. USU Professor, Dr. Juan Villalba is amending sheep diets with a 2% ration of biochar.

Objective: The objective of this study is to determine the impacts of biochar on sheep performance and the ability of sheep to self-select rations containing biochar. Most of the research on biochar ingestion comes from biochars produced in different parts of the world (e.g., Europe, Asia) or from in vitro studies, thus this research aims to fill a large knowledge gap about how locally-produced biochar will impact animal performance.

Partners: Renewable Resources Extension Act, Dr. Juan Villalba, Utah Biomass Resources Group, Utah State University Forestry Extension