Dust Bathing and Why Your Hens Do It

I know I’m not the only one who enjoys watching their chickens squirm around in the dirt and kicking it up into the air. They always look so happy, and it’s fun to watch! I like to call it an episode of “Chicken TV” called ‘Watch me get Clean.’ I guess we all have our own ways of saying it…

Anyways, seeing your chickens worm around in the dirt for the first time may be a bit alarming, as it looks like they’re having a spasm of some sort, and you may start to wonder where you went wrong, but really it’s only your chickens enjoying a nice dust bath. Chickens need to keep clean, just like we shower every day, but this is their way of doing it, and here’s why.

Why is Dust Bathing so Important?

Some people might say that a good shampoo is fine, but dust bathing works even better. Dust bathing prevents mites and lice, along with cleaning out their feathers. The dirt will get onto their skin and suffocate any mites or bugs that may be on them. It’s not a life or death situation if they don’t have access to a spot to bathe in, but it’s recommended. Dust Bathing is a natural instinct that they will do regardless if there’s dirt. I’ve seen some newborn chicks fluff around in wood chips or even my hand, so it’s important to give your chickens a spot to bathe in.

How a chicken dust bathes is interesting to watch. They dig out scoops in the ground, then all lay down together and fluff. I’ve noticed that most of the time, the whole flock bathes together, like a time for socializing. They make contented clucks and chirps to each other a they toss and roll in the dirt. It’s my favorite thing to see! Not only that, but they have their ways of looking a little… different during the process if I do say so…

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Cookies enjoying a good bath

What would be a good space for my chickens to bathe in?

Sandboxes, big tubs, old tires, or a small pool all make good places for a dust bath, but your chickens are probably going to choose to fluff wherever they feel like, and sometimes that might even be in your newly planted garden… just be sure that the area you choose is big enough for all your flock to fluff at the same time, and the chickens will do the rest!

How to make a Dust Bath

Really, your chickens won’t have a problem what kind of dirt they fluff in as long as it gets the job done, but thick, course dirt is the way to go. Sand is a favorite of mine to use, and it’s course, helping my hens to really get clean. During the late fall, winter, and early spring, I like to mix in fireplace ash from my fireplace into their bath. It helps to suffocate mites and lice, and is full of vitamins as long as it’s not chemically treated.

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An example of the bowls they make when they bathe

How old do Chickens have to be to dust bathe?

I’ve always noticed that the chickens will tell you when they want to fluff. Baby chicks as young as three days will squirm around in the pine shavings, practically begging for dirt! They sure thanked me!

I hope this helped you to make a mega dust bath for your chickens that will benefit them and give them something to do. Your chickens will enjoy it!

Dancing with Chickens

© Dancing with Chickens, 2018.

 

 

 

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