Rub-A-Dub-Dub…There’s a Chicken in the Tub!
Although you could dunk your chicken in a a nice warm tub now and then, suds them up, and fluff them with a blowdryer, they would much prefer a nice dust bath.
Dust baths are absolutely necessary for a chicken’s health. Free range or farm pastured chickens can often find some soft earth and dig themselves a nice hole to bathe in. Other times, chickens may be confined to runs or coops and will need a way to rid themselves of pests and parasites such as mites and lice.
Our hens, though out and about all day pecking and foraging, love a nice man-made dust bath. They often find soft patches of dirt and piles of dead leaves and mulch to snuggle into, but a pool, old box, rubber container, or anything that can hold a homemade dust bath mixture is their preference.
With buckets and barrels of ash from our fire pits, organic soil, shovels, food grade diatomaceous earth, and sand we fill up all dust baths around our little farm on a monthly basis. It is such a treat to see the gals run over and dive into their freshly mixed baths. If you haven’t had the opportunity to witness a chicken take a dust bath, it is truly a sight to see. The first time I experienced this, I was under the impression my hens were convulsing and dying as they were frantically flailing, twisting and turning in attempt to cover each and every feather. I quickly ran inside, searched on YouTube, and found out this was very normal and enjoyable for them. The kids love filling up the tubs and pools around the property and watch in amazement. My son is still trying to wrap his head around why chickens have to get dirty in order to get clean and will often try to use this to his advantage and in his own defense to avoid his daily shower.
Below: (left) ash for dust baths & fresh cut herbs for nest boxes (right) farmer Rob & the kiddos collecting ash from the fire pit.
There a a few things to remember when making a dust bath for your feathered friends:
- Only use wood ash and eliminate large chunks of coal.
- You may use play sand or builder’s sand. I prefer play sand, but the pebbles and large pieces of sand are often eaten as “grit”, which is necessary for chickens to aide in the process of breaking and grinding down their food.
- Food grade diatomaceous earth (can be found at your local feed store)
- Soil that is fertilizer, chemical , vermiculite free and preferably organic.
Diatomaceous earth is a fine white powder made of the tiny fossilized remains of diatoms, which is a type of algae. It is 100% natural and safe for chickens to eat and for consumption of eggs. Often, it is recommended to add this to chicken feed to help prevent intestinal worms. You may also use it to help prevent external mites or lice. You can sprinkle DE in nest boxes, coop bedding, and of course in dust baths. It can be directly applied beneath their wings and around their vents to help with an infestation as well. We use DE for controlling ants, and in our vegetable garden for unwanted pests as it is safe around our bee hives.
A note for those who have asthma or respiratory issues:
Our son is a severe asthmatic and the poor little guy just can’t help but want to be out and about helping on our micro farm. He loves digging, hoeing, gardening, cleaning coops, and making dust baths for our hens. If you have respiratory problems, we highly recommend having someone else make the dust baths for your chickens. If this is not an option, please practice safety by wearing a respirator or dusk mask. In addition, shower and wash any clothing used immediately after making dust baths to eliminate any dust particles from the wood ash, DE, soil, or sand on your person.
Everyone needs a good dust bath now and then…
Until next time…
Keep It Real & Keep It Local Y’All
The Texas Chick