The dust bath

barnevelders having a communal dust bath

Chickens love to take a dust bath, it is one of the signs of a healthy bird and watching chickensdust bathing is quite ausing not to mention it's also very important for their health and well being. Chickens (and turkeys) dust bathe regularly and will suffer if they don’t get the opportunity at least every 2-3 days. It will be less if it rains or is especially cold. During the winter when the temperature drops and it is wet and/or snowing It is often hard for them to find a place to dust as most of your birds will be hiding out in the coop. Chickens dust bathe all year round and will be gratefull if you provide one in a sheltered spot or in the coop when the wether is bad. It is even more important in the winter when they are spending more time inside and there is a lack of outdoor spots to use naturally, otherwise this is a perfect time for lice, mites and other parasites to take hold. Also every time they take a bath, it fluffs and aerates their feathers and makes them preen which is good for the condition of their feathers and helps them to hold in more heat.

So here is how I set up my dust bathes. - For my mix I use:

3 parts dirt or sharp builders sand

2 parts wood ash ( don’t use ash from a coal fire)

1 part diatomaceous earth.

Mix it all together using a medium sized rubber bowl. I prefer the soil to be slightly damp, which cuts down on the dust. I sifted it through a piece of course hardware cloth first to get out the clumps.

Above is the some of my flock enjoying a communal dust bath and below is a young chick having a bath in the sun:

chick having a dustbath

The finished dust bath is ready to go to the coop. It also works for my chicken tractors or breeding pens, which I can lift out every day when I move the coops. Since I have a lot of pens each one has it’s own bath as rotating the buckets mights spread things between coops and pens. I give my chicks access to a small version from around day 3 when they're in the brooder.

Refill your bowl as needed, the birds they will scratch a lot of the dirt out or spread it especially when they shake. Stick to natural products like sand etc and do not add odours, smellies or bath salts or anything that can irritate skin.