Dust Bath for Chickens - What is it and why you might need to make it

Dust Bath For Chickens

two brown chickens taking a dust bath
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My Dust Bath for Chickens is easy to make and you probably already have all of the ingredients. Basically, all we need to do is to gather the supplies and mix it all together. The tricky part is getting them to use it. We’ll go over that and a lot more in today’s post.

Here’s why I decided to start making my own dust bath for chickens… Last fall my chickens decided my nice big planter on the porch that has my lovely herbs in it (see pictures!), was now theirs for dust bathing.

The plants didn’t really like this disturbance. The chickens ended up digging most of them up and they died. There were many dust baths taken and a couple of eggs laid. Now my lovely planter sits empty of plants and all but forgotten by the chickens. 🙁

Here’s the large planter I have on my porch. You can get one too, if you like. Clicking on the image will take you to Amazon where you can buy it.

As you can see in the pictures the chickens love to take a bath pretty much wherever they please. Like in the landscaping or now thanks to the Chickens…  a sandpit like the rest of the yard.

It used to be full of plants, and red chips and it looked nice. Oh, the days before chickens. We can’t seem to have nice things outside with chickens around.

Why Do Chickens Take Dust Baths?

Dust bathing is an important part of being a chicken. They take baths in dirt, and sometimes sand. This helps them to keep their feathers clean, control oil on the skin and feathers.

The most important thing that dust baths do is they help keep away parasites, like mites and lice.

chickens taking a dust bath

Do I Have To Provide My Chickens With A Dust Bath?

Only if they don’t have a space where they can’t create their own. If your chickens have access to dirt, or even sand they are most likely already dust bathing.

If you see them lying in the dirt/sand on their side kicking dirt/sand on top of them, they’re taking a bath! I’ve created a nice dust bath for chickens, so that hopefully they will either choose the old tire with my homemade recipe in it and not my planter.

It’s been successful so far. Now they don’t use it all the time, sometimes they like taking a dust bath right in the sand. We live in Florida and our yard is all sand. You’d think we lived at the beach!

I still provide the extra homemade mix, because it does provide a few extra elements that the sand does not. Such as DE, and herbs from my herb garden.

Some herbs may provide protection from pests like lice, or help with respiratory issues.

rooster taking a dust bath

Do Chickens Ever Need An Actual Water Bath?

Most of the time your chickens are fully capable of bathing themselves. However, some people feel the need to clean up their chickens when their butt gets super poopy or if their feet get covered in poop.

I’ve noticed my chickens with poopy butts every now and then, it’s super gross. I however, I’ve never given them a water bath. It might take a couple of days but the chickens really do a good job of cleaning themselves up.

As long as their poop and vents look normal, I leave them alone. If you see some weird poop or something wrong with their behind, such as it being red or swollen.

That’s when you might want to step in and give them a little wash. Check out this super helpful post with (really gross) poop images in case you see some weird poop and want to know what it means.

For some breeds of chickens a poopy butt might be normal from time to time, such as with chickens that have really bushy feathers on their butts. You can trim the feathers on their behind to prevent this if you prefer.

Check out more information about poopy butts to learn more at Raising Chickens.

Can’t I Just Buy A Mix Of Dust Bath For Chickens?

Oh yes! Of course you can. Before I started making my own, I purchased some mix already made.

It worked nicely, and it seemed like the components were well put together. The chickens seemed to like it, but when it came time to replenish the dust bath for chickens, I didn’t feel the need to purchase more.

I figured I could probably make a dust bath for chickens just as well or better myself.

How To Encourage Your Chickens To Start Using Their New Dust Bath

Chickens are hilarious. I was feeding pumpkin to chickens (click to see why) last fall and they literally looked at them like they were aliens.

I had to show them it was food. So the best way to introduce this new dust bath to them, is to sprinkle a favorite treat like scratch in there to encourage them to start scratching and pecking.

The ingredients used in this homemade chicken bath recipe is edible for chickens, so it’s okay if they nibble in it. Over the next few days they will get the idea that this would be a great place to take a bath!

chickens taking a dust bath

Chicken Dust Bath Recipe


  • A container – an old tire, small wooden stumps (in a circle pattern), a kiddie pool, pavers (circle pattern), or even a plastic tub would do.
  • Mask
  • Gloves


  • 2 parts dry dirt
  • 1 part clean sand
  • 1 part ash from burning wood or paper
  • 1/2 part diatomaceous earth *optional
  • Dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, lavender.


  1. Gather all of the supplies.
  2. Put your mask and gloves on.
  3. Add all of the ingredients to your container and mix them well.
  4. Keep this mixture in a dry place.

What’s the Funniest Thing Your Chickens Have Done?

I’d love To Know what you think!… Leave me a comment!

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Image Credit: Linda N. (License)

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8 thoughts on “Dust Bath For Chickens”

  1. Nice article, but I am not sure about using DE powder. It is harmful when breathed in. Peat moss seems to be a good ingredient also.

    1. Hey Jay,

      Thank you! Peat moss sounds like an interesting ingredient. I’ll have to do a little research on that.

      Have you ever heard that you shouldn’t breath in flour? Yep! From what I understand, flour and DE are similarly dangerous for your lungs. I’m not a doctor or scientist, and I always encourage people to do their own research. BUT if they are similar in that way, DE could be used in a well ventilated area with little to no issues. BUT do what you want!

      I assume since these dust baths are outside (well ventilated area), it’s really not a problem. Now, I do worry about when I hear about people adding it to bedding in a chicken coop. Some chicken coops are pretty small, and it doesn’t sounds like a great idea to have around animals (like chickens) who can easily get respiratory issues!

      Thanks for stopping by Jay. I hope you can tweak my recipe to suit your girl’s (and guys) needs!

  2. I love this dust bath recipe! My new chicken yard is going to have some old tires as dust baths. Currently the hens like a spot right out the back door and well you can imagine what the back doorstep looks like! I have very sandy soil naturally which is lovely for making a dust bath in. I didn’t think to add any herbs in but I will be trying it in the new yard for sure!

    Thank you for sharing, have a wonderful week,


    1. I’m so glad you like the recipe. I can absolutely imagine what the back doorstep looks like! Hah, I bet there is sand everywhere. I hope they love the new dust bath mixture and uses it instead of the beside the doorstep area. We are building a new coop now. I hope to build a whole area with my dust bath for chickens recipe near the new coop. I’m pretty excited.

      Thank you for stopping by Emma!

    2. I bought a used child’s turtle sandbox, filed it with this recipe 4 years ago keep it dry clean and fresh 37 pretty chickens I love to pieces they are my world and exactly 0 has ever stepped a foot in it, I’ve tired everything, but scratch that’s tomorrow, fingers crossed. My polish crested Frizzles as well as my silkies and Frizzled Silkies allot of splash and Polish solid white, bathing in a hole in grass they are looking rough. I stand and laugh they are super silly. I recommend anyone raising spoiled chickens for pleasure to get polish crested. They make my day every day. They make me happy, health’s failing at 53 but they keep me happy. Husband is on the road without me in Beautiful rv working. I was always with him out 3 dogs seeing the nation inspecting fire hydrants, and building a new home he let me retire to take care of my Birds. Lost income, he’s doing it alone to let me stay with my Birds. 😘

      1. Hah, oh man. My chickens have access to a dust bath kiddie pool, that I made JUST FOR THEM! They used it so much the first year, but now they are back at bathing in my large front porch planter! They seriously are nuts! Another option you might try is if you can put the sandbox dust bath in their fenced in area (if you have one) and keep them locked in the fence for a few weeks, they will surely get bored enough to start using the darn thing. But with chickens you know they like having more than one place to bathe!

        Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story Karen. So happy that you get to retire and do something you love. I hope I can be like you when I retire! You’re livin’ the life! Have a great weekend!

    3. I have read different reviews about DE, some say to use it and some say Not to use it. I also read that if you use DE then you shouldn’t use the eggs for a little while, do you have any advice or an opinion on this?

      1. Hey Theresa,

        I haven’t read any articles saying that the eggs would be compromised. I would be interested in reading a scientific research study on that if they ever did one. I, however, doubt that it affects the eggs. But what do I know? I’m not a scientist!

        I don’t use DE in an enclosed area. Since humans and birds are susceptible to respiratory issues. I use it in my girl’s dust bath (outside only) and I’ve never had issues.

        It’s really up to you on how you feel about it. When you make a dust bath, you can leave it out. It’s not a pertinent ingredient.

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