Have you ever stepped outside and seen your chickens rolling around in the dirt? This is your chicken taking a dust bath. While it may look odd, there are actually specific reasons why your chickens take dust baths.
A dust bath is at it seems—it’s when chickens flop and roll around in the dirt and dust. They continue doing this until their feathers are coated in dust before standing up and shaking all of the dust off (so be sure not to stand too close).
Why do chickens take dust baths?
Dust baths look like something that chickens do for fun, and indeed they have a lot of fun doing it! Nevertheless, chickens actually take dust baths in order to get clean (no matter how counterintuitive it may seem to us). Chickens have oil glands around their bodies that can lead to excess oil. These excess oils, however, can be absorbed and controlled with dust. Additionally, dust also works as an insecticide, as it can suffocate any unwanted lice and mites that are trying to make their home on a chicken’s body.
How to make a dust bath
Chickens can often make their own dust baths, but if you live in a wet climate, or if it’s wintertime, then they may need a helping hand. In order to make one, you’ll want to pick a dry, sunny spot that’s big enough for at least 2-3 chickens. Section it off with lumber, then fill it with any of the following material:
You should only use wood fireplace ash for this type of dust bath as opposed to wood that may have been burned with lighter fluid. You may notice your chickens nibbling on the wood ash, too. This is because it has Vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) can kill mites, lice, fleas, ticks, and other parasites, making it an excellent option for dust baths.
Fine sand is one of the most common dust bath ingredients. It’s excellent for cleaning feathers and killing parasites.
Herbs like dried lavender, rosemary, and mint act as natural insecticides. Thyme and rosemary are also great anti-inflammatories.
After that you’re done, just clean it every few weeks to rid it of any droppings and refill it as needed.
Have further questions about making a dust bath for your chickens? Or maybe you’re looking to expand your flock? Whatever the reason, feel free to contact Chickens for Backyards for all of your backyard chicken needs.