Chickens need to keep themselves free of mites and other parasites, and building a dust bath for chickens can be done in just 5 minutes.
So why do chickens roll in dirt to dust bathe?
Well, its how they keep themselves free of external parasites that can cause all sorts of health problems.
Making your own dust bath for chickens also ensures that your hens are bathing with beneficial dirt, rather than dirt caked with manure, dead and decaying matter, etc, that harbor bad bacteria that can harm your birds .
You can also include parasite-preventing supplements and herbs to get your flock squeaky clean and ready to preen themselves. So, let’s talk about how to make a dust bath for chickens.
You can let your hens create a dust bath directly in the ground or use a food-safe plastic container to keep the area clean and add supplements such as diatomaceous earth or an herbal blend like MitesBGone that help keep them free of mites and lice.
Plastic bin or barrel are also easy to clean if your chickens poop on it. Another choice is a kiddie pool - chickens can easily get into it, and wide enough to accommodate more than one hen.
What dirt is best in my dust bath for chickens?
Next, let’s talk about what to actually put in your dust bath. You’ll need:
- Loamy dirt or sand
- Diatomaceous earth (optional, but studies have shown it helps reduce mites)
- Herbs such as lavender, wormwood, oregano, or MitesBGone, (optional but recommended)
You can purchase sand or use regular ol’ dirt, but it’s important to use loose dirt your flock can easily toss over themselves. Create a 1 or 2-inch layer of soil at the bottom of your container, smoothing it out so it’s even.
Next, sprinkle diatomaceous earth and your herbs over the soil. This will help to get rid of and prevent any mites or lice on your chickens.The amount of diatomaceous earth you use will depend on the size of your container, but I like to use a 2:1 ratio in favor of dirt. If you want, you can pre-mix the diatomaceous earth, herbs, and dirt, but without a doubt, your chickens will do it for you. And voila - your dust bath for chickens is done!
Scholz B, Urselmans S, Kjaer JB, Schrader L. "Food, wood, or plastic as substrates for dustbathing and foraging in laying hens: A preference test." Accessed August 13, 2016.
Barnett JL, Tauson R, Downing JA, Janardhana V, Lowenthal JW, Butler KL, Cronin GM. "The effects of a perch, dust bath, and nest box, either alone or in combination as used in furnished cages, on the welfare of laying hens." Poultry Science. 2009 Mar;88(3):456-70. doi: 10.3382/ps.2008-00168. Accessed August 12, 2016.