My Dust Bath for Chickens is easy to make and you probably already have all of the ingredients. Basically, all we need to do to make it is gather the supplies and mix it all together. The tricky part is getting them to use it. We will 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, 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?
Dustbathing is an important part of being a chicken. Chickens stay healthy by staying clean. 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.
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 are 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.
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, have not ever 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 you 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!
- A container – an old tire, small wooden stumps (in a circle pattern), pavers (circle pattern), or even a plastic tub would do.
- 2 parts dry dirt – grab it from the garden if you like, just make sure it’s dry
- 1 part clean sand
- 1 part ash from burning wood or paper
- 1/2 part diatomaceous earth
- Dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, lavender.
- Gather all of the supplies.
- Put your mask and gloves on.
- Add all of the ingredients to your container and mix them well.
- Keep this mixture in a dry place.
What’s the funniest thing your chickens do?
I would love to know what you think, Please leave me a comment or a question below… Thank you for visiting. 🙂