Chickens take dust baths to keep parasites at bay. Commercial products may contain chemicals so make your own chicken dust bath mix instead.
The first time I saw my chickens‘ dust bathing, I thought they were having a seizure. Flopping around, dust flying everywhere! Then, they got up, shook off the excess, and walked away. As it turns out, dust bathing is quite normal!
Why Chickens Like Dust Baths
Chickens can get parasites. Lice, ticks, mites, all kinds of nasty creatures. All of them can cause serious health issues, Sure, there are chemicals that you can use to keep pests off of your chickens, but I would rather do it naturally. Dust, from sand and other dusty things, settles on the skin of the chicken, choking off the air supply to the pests. And the dust also helps absorb and grease or other dirt that the chickens may have come in contact with. The dust will then form small pellets on the skin and simply roll off into the grass.
Best Dust Making Ingredients
You can use straight sand for a chicken dust bath. I’ve used kids play sand and the chickens do very well with it. I put it into a cement mixing trough because it is quite large. A kids swimming pool will work too. Be sure you place it in a covered location. Here in North Carolina, it rains almost daily in the summer, which would just make a soggy mess. I place mine under the overhang of the coop, where it stays nice and dry.
The best mix has several types of dusty material in it. This is the mix that I’ve been using for quite a while now.
Chicken Dust Bath Recipe
- Prep Time
- 10 minutes
- Active Time
- 5 minutes
- Total Time
- 15 minutes
- 1 batch
- Estimated Cost
- varies by amount
Simply mix together equal parts of the following ingredients:
- dry soil (equal parts)
- diatomaceous earth (equal parts)
- wood ashes (equal parts)
- sand (equal parts)
Mix all the ingredients together.
Place the chicken dust bath in the area you want them to dust bathe.
You may want to use a mask if everything is very dry and dusty. The chickens won’t have a problem with it, obviously.
Some people don’t like to use DE (diatomaceous earth). You can omit it if that is your choice. I use it because it is excellent at keeping certain pests at bay.
You can place the chicken dust bath directly on the ground, or in a tub or kiddie pool like the ones I mentioned above. Other ideas are an area surrounded by low fencing (it must be solid or the dust will leak out), a kids sandbox, like the infamous turtle, a plastic tote with a hole in the side, old tires, an old watering trough that leaks, or even just pour it on the ground in a pile. The chickens will figure it out!
If you like, you can add some dried oregano, thyme, or rosemary to the mix to help prevent pests in the future.
Have you made a chicken dust bath for your birds? Now is a great time to do it!