EIP-Agri: CAREFUL - Residual biomass to (activated) carbon: prevention of footpad lesions in poultry production.

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In Germany, the domestic chicken represents the most common livestock species in terms of numbers, with a population of around 160 million birds in 2014, and the demand for poultry meat has been increasing for years. However, especially in poultry fattening, footpad lesions and high ammonia concentrations in the house air are a serious detriment to animal welfare. While the inflammatory footpad disorders are most likely painful and can restrict bird movement, high airborne ammonia levels are a risk for respiratory disease in both animals and humans, among others. Damp, dirty litter in the barns is considered a major cause of the above-mentioned impairments. This also affects organic poultry production and even poses greater challenges due to feeding restrictions.


Due to their high internal surface area, vegetable and activated carbons are characterized by a high water absorption capacity (up to five times their weight) and a high adsorption capacity for various substances, such as nutrients and nitrogen compounds, but also dioxins and mycotoxins. Due to these properties, vegetable and activated carbons represent a promising but poorly researched litter substrate in poultry production to reduce both footpad diseases and ammonia emissions, as well as possibly having a health-promoting effect when ingested via species-typical scratching and pecking.


The aim of the innovation project with representatives from agriculture, business, science and consulting is to develop and test an innovative poultry litter based on sustainable and regionally produced plant and active coals from previously unused residual biomass in northern Hesse to improve animal welfare in poultry farming. Suitable coals are used as poultry litter in practical trials and their effects on animal health and housing climate are investigated in an iterative and multi-stage approach. By utilizing previously unused residual biomass, regional material cycles will also be closed and sustainable value chains established.

Duration: March 2020 - June 2023

Funded by:State of Hesse and European Union

Project in the framework of the European Innovation Partnership Program   "Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability - EIP Agri" of the Rural Development Plan (EPLR) of the State of Hesse 2014 - 2020

Lead partner and institution: Prof. Dr. Michael Wachendorf (Director) and Dr. Kathrin Stenchly (Management), Competence Centre for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation (CliMA), University of Kassel.

Contact persons: Dr. Kathrin Stenchly and Dr.-Ing. Korbinian Kaetzl

Members of the Operational Group OG "Careful":

Department of Grassland Science and Renewable Resources, University of Kassel (Prof. Dr. Michael Wachendorf and Dr. Ing. Korbinian Kaetzl)  

Department ofLivestock Ethology and Animal Husbandry, University of Kassel (Prof. Dr. Ute Knierim)

Organic Fresh Poultry Roth

Poultry farm Hüppe

Schäfer organic poultry farm KG

Organic farm Krieger

PowerWave Projects

Rüddenklau Bioenergy GbR

Associated partners:

Bioland Hessen e.V.

Poultry Industry Association Hessen e.V.