One of the weirdest activities your chickens will do is dust bathing. They look like they are either dying or having a seizure, but it is a very important part of their health care routine. Let’s talk about a chicken dust bath.
What Do You Need:
A Container: Whether you build your own with wood or buy a sandbox at a garage sale anything will work as long as it is high enough to hold the ingredients in for the dust bath.
A Cover: You need a large umbrella, tarp, or some type of covering so that the dust bath does not get wet.
Soil: Any type of soil will do. Just make sure it is loose and dry. You can buy soil from the garden center, dig it up from your garden, or if you have pots of soil at the end of garden season that are depleted of nutrients you can empty them into the dust bath area.
Diatomaceous Earth or Wood Ash: Both of these are a fine powdery substance that helps with insect control.
Diatomaceous Earth is formed from the fossil remains of diatoms that is ground into a fine powder.
Wood ash is literally the ashes from the firepit or wood stove leftover from burning wood.
Why Does a Chicken Need a Dust Bath?
It might seem odd to bathe in dust to get clean, but for a chicken it is exactly what they need. So how does it help your chicken?
Pests: the dust covers the skin of the chicken and suffocates mites, lice, or other external parasites that may be on their skin.
Skin: Sometimes the chickens oil gland will produce excess oil and dust baths control the amount of oil on the chicken’s skin while also exfoliating the skin.
Community: You will usually see two or three chickens bathing together because it is a community activity.
How to Care for the Dust Bath
The most important thing to consider is to keep the dust bath dry so that the soil stays loose and fluffy.
The chickens will poo in the bath area so clean the area out every couple of weeks or as needed. After cleaning it you may need to occasionally add more dirt and wood ash.
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