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Activated Charcoal - for a Sweeter Environment
Activated charcoal is used to control all manner of odor complaints from household air, to industrial sites, body flatulence, city dumps, to hospital wards. So, it should be no surprise that charcoal is an age-old remedy for managing odors associated with animals. The owner of one large manufacturer of activated charcoal told me recently, that a large pig farm in…, after he had several complaints from neighbors, bought two tons of activated charcoal to spread over his growing pile of pig manure. It quickly and efficiently solved the problem of offensive odors and probably mended some fences too.
The main problem is obviously the build up of odors from animal wastes in and around the animal sheds and pens. But the buildup of these odors have secondary problems in that they tend to compromise the overall sanitation of the animal areas, which tends to attract dangerous microorganisms and insect pests. These bring with them a host of other potential diseases. It makes perfect sense, both humanely and economically, to insure the health of animals and those working with animals by controlling the build up of odors that directly or indirectly compromise health or invite disease. There is no other single ingredient that so effectively helps achieve this goal as activated charcoal.
Kathy initially contacted us for some other reason than odor problems. She purchased a sack of charcoal powder and when it arrived she decided to try it in her barn.
Kathy writes: “Well, just for the record, I want to at least tell you what we did, and got fantastic results. I have a large 8-stall barn, (no animals) just storage. There was one stall in particular that had some water breaching and all the stuff in there was wacked, so we got a dumpster and emptied out that one stall and the one next to it. There was such a nasty moldy stagnant smell, I figured I'll put some charcoal in there. So I took about 1 pound of the powder and spread it around the two floors (dirt) and just raked it in a bit, and within a couple hours, ALL the musty smell was gone. It has not even been a full day, and the difference is amazing, I am so impressed. But I will take you up on any info John can give about garden uses. I want to thank you for always answering you emails!! You'd be surprised how many folks never do. Thanks!” Kathy
We would add that this also works for outdoor pet areas, animal runs, animal sheds and barns. You can dust it around areas where animals mark their territory, it even works when you've been “skunked”. I believe those raising mink and fox would be amazed at the improvement in odors and overall sanitation with a regular dusting of charcoal powder.
Depending on the situation, granular activated charcoal may be a better application. Industrial granular charcoal meets high standards and does what it is intended to do within minutes in confined areas. One packaged granular product is Pure NonScents®.Kimberly just sprinkles a tablespoon in our roadside garbage bin if it gets “ripe” before the week is up, and in minutes the odor is gone. There are also plastic products that are impregnated with activated charcoal that work well in small areas and can be hung in indoor cages for birds and other small pets.
As for larger areas such as farms, more and more progressive farmers are taking a lesson from past generations and rediscovering this simple natural remedy that goes a long ways to helping control livestock odors.
The Food & Fertilizer Technology Center (Asia Pacific Region in cooperation with Kwang Hwa Jung National Livestock Research Institute (NLRI) Rural Development Administration (RDA), Suwon, Republic of Korea) carried out research on the benefits of feeding charcoal powder to domestic animals including cattle, pigs, and poultry. Besides noticing an increase in milk production and decrease in mastitis for dairy cattle, reduction in mortality for pigs and laying hens, overall disease reduction, improved feed:weight ratio for pigs, they achieved a remarkable 50% reduction in the offensive smell of manure. That is impressive for many reasons but especially for the “bottom line” – increased production.
We have been told directly and indirectly by dairy farmers here in America, that adding charcoal powder to the feed or drinking water has improved production. One unusual instance was feeding spent charcoal from a sugar refinery. Since charcoal is the main filtering component in removing colors and odors from sugar, in time the charcoal’s adsorbing capacity becomes saturated and the charcoal is disposed. In this case, a nearby dairy farmer offered to take the charcoal “waste” and fed it to his cows. I don’t think it made the milk whiter but he continues to take the “waste” for some profitable reason ($$).
Back to the FTTC research on charcoal and animal odors. The bamboo charcoal powder was fed to cattle as a feed additive, at a rate of 1 - 2% (by volume) - Table 1. Alternatively, it may be added to the drinking water - Table 2. Used in this way, it reduced the bad smell of manure by 50%.
Bamboo charcoal added to the feed or drinking water improves the smell of the shed and helps keep down flies.
Of course the less offensive the smell, the happier the living environment (pets/livestock), the happier the working environment (owners/farm hands), and the fewer the flies! The fewer the flies, the less the disease, the less the vet bills, the more returns monetarily and socially – no reluctant visitors or complaining neighbors!!
To learn more of the amazing benefits of activated charcoal, not only to control odors, but also to help promote healing in people, pets and livestock, and in its use in agriculture, we recommend the book CharcoalRemedies.com The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal & Its Applications.