Dust Baths & DIY Tips

Dust Baths & DIY Tips

  • By Kaylyn
  • Jan 18, 2019
Dust Baths & DIY Tips

Last week’s post covered dust mites; what they are, what they do, and some ways to prevent them that can save you some money. We mentioned that this weeks’ post would give you all the benefits of having a dust bath (or several!) as well as all the materials you need to Do-It-Yourself at home for little to no money!

As promised, here is everything you need to know about dust baths and some neat DIY tips so you can make your own dust bath right at home. 

Dust, Dirt, & Diatomaceous Earth 

First things first, the reasons for a bathing area somewhere in or around your pen are SO important! Chickens and wild birds (as well as some other smaller animals like chinchillas and squirrels) NEED to “bathe” themselves in dust or dirt. This helps coat their skin and prevents parasites (like lice and mites) from latching to their skin and causing all kinds of unhealthy, not to mention uncomfortable, side effects.

If there is nowhere for your chickens, birds, chinchillas, or even your squirrels to “take a bath,” they WILL absolutely make one for themselves. Of course, this will probably be in a place you don’t want them to, so just keep those prized-petunias or ribbon-winning roses in mind! Making one for them eliminates having to worry about flowers, gardens, and anything else being destroyed. Another BIG benefit to a dust bath area is you no longer have to worry about stepping (and possibly falling) into a whole in your yard so those early morning or late night visits to the coop will be so much safer! 

What is Diatomaceous Earth? 

Parasite Prevention

The main ingredients in a typical dust bath consist of Diatomaceous Earth (this is most important!!!), wood ash, and loamy dirt or sand. Diatomaceous Earth is CRUCIAL for the rapid removal of parasites. How does it work, you ask? Well, Diatomaceous Earth (or DE) powder attracts protozoa, bacteria, toxins, fungi, viruses and even heavy metals. These nasty nuisances are completely removed and the parasites are killed. 

Important for People Too! 

Remember, some of these bacteria and viruses can be transmitted to humans and can be dangerous for your health. One example of this is the salmonella bacteria that many animals carry. A salmonella infection can cause some pretty bad stomach upset and a lot of other problems you don’t want to deal with. So you see,  it’s extremely important for a homemade dust bath area that you can control- important for your yards and gardens, for your flocks and small pets, and most of all, it’s important for you and your family!

Helpful Hints

Some people also choose to include various herbs like oregano, basil, lavender, and the list goes on. Herbs can be VERY beneficial for your birds and pets! They have a long list of health benefits as well as nutritional benefits. By the way, your little critters will especially LOVE the opportunity to snack on these while they bathe! Depending on what types of herbs you use, an added benefit of using herbs is pest control. Herbs like mint can be used to keep mice and insects away!

The ingredients and some helpful hints on what to use as a container is listed below:

Ingredients:

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Loamy dirt/sand
Wood Ash

Creative Container Ideas:

Wheelbarrow (with wheels removed)
Old tire
Kid swimming pool
Shallow plastic storage bin
Feed trough

We hope you have tons of fun watching your critters peck and play in the dust! Just be sure that whatever you include in your dust bath area is safe for your pet.

References: All About SalmonellaTop Tips for 'Herbifying' from Lisa Steele



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