Backyard chickens can provide manure, control garden pests, and offer high-quality eggs. They do not require much care and happily graze around raised garden beds. However, they’ll love a bath to keep healthy and their feathers soft.
Read on to find out everything concerning chicken dust baths. Why chickens are fond of them and require them and how to create the perfect one for your feathered companions.
What Is a Dust Bath?
Consider a bathing experience as a human bath; chickens require them to ensure their feathers are in good order.
The sand or dust soaks up additional moisture and oils onto the skin. It also repels parasites like lice and mites by coating insects’ breathing pores or deterring them.
If you’ve ever witnessed chickens having a bath in a dusty tub and rolling the sandy goodness all over, you’ll know they love it!
Chickens usually spend about 10 to 15 minutes bathing to engage with other hens as well. Then, after they’ve been thoroughly dusted, they’ll shake themselves off like a dog out of a river and continue on as happy as can be.
How Do You Create a Dust Bath for Chickens
Giving your chickens a dust bath doesn’t need to be fancy, and you don’t have to shell out a lot of money. Lots of people reuse items (the chickens don’t mind). The process of making your dust bath is contingent upon the location of your chickens. Read on for more details.
Creating a Dust Bath in the Coop
Your chickens will attempt to create their dust baths wherever they want but prevent the chaos they cause and set up a proper bath for them! Therefore, when you house your chickens indoors, you must create space for a dust bathing area (around the size of three chickens).
If you don’t wish to clean every day, ensure that your dust bath area is away from their food and water since chickens can cause chaos in the bathing area and scatter dirt all over the place!
Making a Dust Bath for Free-Range Chickens
Free-range chickens are used to roaming around wherever they want and digging, pecking, and scratching at everything in your garden or yard. Therefore, you’ll need to teach your chickens to bathe in a dust bath.
If you’ve ever trained your dog, this could be something you’re familiar with. Begin by putting the dust bath where they are used to hanging out.
Then slowly shift it to your preferred location. Ensure that your chickens aren’t in danger while setting up the new bath.
In the sun, but partially beneath a bush, is ideal in the eyes of your poultry. The bush offers a quick escape if a predator is close to them.
Materials Required to Create the Perfect Chicken Dust Bath Recipe
Fine sand and dry dirt is the main ingredient in the perfect duo bath for your family of feathered companions.
Sand, when mixed with dry dirt, creates an excellent base for your chicken runs dust bath.
Always begin by adding these first, and then add additional materials:
1.) Diatomaceous Earth
Super Fine Diatomaceous earth is highly effective in killing lice, mites, and other parasites through contact over a prolonged period. Chickens can soak in it and add it to their diet.
In a study conducted by an academic institution, the University of California, researchers discovered a drop of between 80 and 100 percent in lice and mites following the use of sand and the DE-mix dust bath.
Diatomaceous Earth you utilize will be determined by the dimensions of your container. However, it would be best if you tried using a 2:1 ratio of dirt.
2.) Fire Ash
Fire Ash from wood burning. It is a rich source of calcium, vitamin K and magnesium. Chickens are likely to eat a bit of the ash; however, it’s okay.
It is not recommended to utilize ash from treated coal or wood or if you’ve burnt waste or plastics in the fire.
The following is additional chicken dust bath ingredients you can also add:
Sand is ideal for the chicken dust bath. You can use it as an ingredient in a mix with other substances as it aids in exfoliating and getting rid of parasites.
It also aids in keeping the dirt that is in the bath from becoming compacted over time. However, it’s crucial to ensure you don’t purchase any play or paver sand.
They’re similar to beach sand and could cause crop impaction in the chickens.
Choose construction sand instead.
In addition to giving your chickens a fantastic scent, rosemary, lavender, and mint are effective insecticides that help fight off parasites that plague chickens.
Oregano and sage can help improve their immune systems, and parsley can boost their vitamin levels.
Mint helps chickens keep cool during summer through its cooling properties. It’s also believed to repel insects and rodents because of its minty scent.
Here’s a list of beneficial herbs that you can add to your chicken’s dust bath:
- Bay leaves
Sulfur dust is essential for your chicken bath because it removes lice and mites on chickens; however, it also works for those who do not use it!
Entomology Today discusses a study that compared the efficacy of sulfur and permethrin commercial hens to treat Northern Fowl mites and lice.
The researchers placed gauze bags containing sulfur in the vicinity of food items so chickens could rub against them. The study revealed that sulfur proved more efficient than permethrin and could eliminate the mites within a week.
As a result, researchers advise backyard chicken owners to hang the sulfur bags near food, water, or nest boxes so that chickens can bump into them from time to time.
If you let your chickens in your garden or vegetable patch, you’ll likely have learned a hard lesson when you sew the chickens bouncing about inside your garden!
Chickens love topsoil since it is crumbly, light, and makes the ideal cushion to roll on. You’ll need to include all the above ingredients to ensure that your dust bath is still serving its purpose of killing the bugs that cause problems.
How Deep Should a Chicken’s Dust Bath Be
A chicken’s dust bath must be at least eight inches deep for the full-size chickens and 6 inches for bantams. Chickens require space to move around; should you have a flock, it will need to be larger.
What Can You Use to Create a Dust Bath?
You can reuse items that you’ve gathered around your yard, or home to create a dust bath for the chickens, such as:
- Large sandbox
- Swimming pools for kids
- Large flat plastic bags
- An old bathtub
- Wooden crate
- Homemade wooden boxes
- Half a barrel cut down its length
- Large flowerpot
- An old tire
Things That Shouldn’t Be in a Dust Bath
Don’t add the following items to the chicken dust bath:
- Cat Litter
- Coal Ash
Does the Dust Bath Need a Roof?
It’s a good idea to protect your dust bath when it rains, even though it’s impossible to build an enclosure.
A roof will prevent it from becoming slushy and wet (precisely the kind of thing chickens do not want). If you have time, you can construct corrugated roofing over the area.
The video above does a great job of highlighting a chicken dust bath made out of an old tire. Along with some of the ingredients we discussed in this article.
Chicken dust baths are essential for proper care. The last thing you want is for your feathered friends to get infested with mites or lice. Like humans, chickens benefit from baths, which should be a part of their daily routine.