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Your Chickens Need a Dust Bath (Here’s Why)

A dust bath may seem like a luxury item that your flock doesn’t actually need. But, the truth is, chickens really do need dust baths. In fact, if you don’t give them one of their own, they’ll make it themselves in a place you probably don’t one (like your garden).

Chickens enjoy dust bathing for a variety of reasons. In fact, your birds will frequent their dust bath for things like hygiene, relaxation, and comradery.

Here’s what I mean:

A Dust Bath Prevents Mites and Lice

Chickens are prone to their own breed of lice and mites. And when these pests attack your flock, your chickens will lose feathers, stop laying eggs, and may even become anemic and die. 

Luckily, chickens are good at preventing infestations like this through dust bathing. A regular treatment in and around the chicken coop with First Saturday Lime will also help in controlling mites and lice.

When your chooks roll around in your landscaping, they’re keeping the bugs from setting up shop between their feathers. Think of it as a natural way to prevent, and even kill, some of the mites and lice that infect your flock

Chickens Use Dust Baths to Control Natural Oils

Chickens have oil glands that can get out of control at times. Most often, these oils are used during preening. 

Believe it or not, chickens like to be clean. They don’t want their oils overtaking their fluffy feathers. So, they’ll find a nice silty dust bath to regulate their natural oils. 

Even Chickens Deserve Spa Days

Not only do dust bathes provide general hygiene for your chickens, but they also provide a moment of relaxation. 

If you have free-range chickens, and you’ve watched them bee-line it to your flower beds, only to roll around in the dirt, you know they love to take dust baths. 

Often, chickens will fluff about and kick the dirt up for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour (and beyond). 

And on close inspection, you’ll also notice your chickens look relaxed. They’ll snooze in the sun, their eyes become droopy, their feathers are relaxed, and their legs are stretched out. 

This quiet time is the best time to watch your chickens feeling comfortable. And if you’ve had chickens for any amount of time, you know they’re typically full of anxiety. Can you blame them?

Dust baths give them a break from the grind…and happy chickens produce more eggs. 

Relationship-Building Dust Baths

Another emotional benefit of having dust baths for your chickens is the flock-building a joint bath can foster. 

Typically, chickens don’t bathe alone.

So, when the alpha hen finds a perfect dust bathing location, usually the flock follows. They’ll pile up, pick bugs off one another, and maybe even preen each other’s feathers. 

Dust bathing is a social event for your flock and one can only imagine that it builds healthy relationships amongst your beloved birds. 

What Do you Need for Your First Dust Bath?

Not much. 

In reality, your chickens won’t be too picky about their dust baths. Any fine dirt or sand will do the trick. 

If you give them an ideal dust bath, chances are, they won’t attempt to bathe in places you’d prefer them not to. Like your flower bed. 

Here’s a few things to include in your dust bath:

  1. Fine SandSandbox sand is a good base for your dust bath. As long as it’s extremely fine, and a little disty, your chickens will love it. Sand works best when you mix it with dirt, however.
  2. Fine DirtDirt from your property is good enough for your chickens. It’s best if you can find the finest, rock-free, dirt possible. It’s the best for bathing.
  3. Diatomaceous EarthYou can also use DE, in moderation, as an additive to your dust bath. DE can be harmful to your chickens’ lungs if inhaled. So, only adding a small amount to your dust bath is the best bet. DE is a drying agent and can help keep the lice and mites at bay. Little Farmer Products Coop Right is an excellent base for your dust bath and includes DE, clay, and rosemary.

Once you fill your dust bath with attractive dirt, look for a sunny place on your property to place it. Your chickens will prefer a safe place, like under a shrub so they can keep an eye on the sky for predators. 

If you give your birds the best dust bath possible, they’ll return frequently, and stay out of your landscaping. 

Happy Chickening!™

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