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How to Make a Dust Bath for Chickens

In this article, I will share how to make a dust bath for your chickens and why it’s so important for their health!

A Dust Bath for Chickens Made from Wood Ash and Diatomaceous Earth
My Tractor Tire Dust Bath

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My chickens are one of the easiest things to care for on my little farm but they still have a few basic needs, like keeping up with their dust bath!

So let’s jump right into how to make one and why it’s so important!

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How to Make a Dust Bath for Chickens

When it comes to making a dust bath it can be as simple or as fancy as you want.

First: Choose Your Container

I use an old tractor tire and it works great but there are many other options as well, such as a:

A Chicken's Dust Bath With Wood Ash, Sand, and Diatomaceous Earth

There will usually be a few chickens trying to use the bath area at the same time so one important thing is that whichever container you choose is large enough to fit at least two chickens at a time.

I suggest aiming for a container with a length and width of at least 24-36 inches and a depth of 8-12 inches.

Your chickens should be able to easily hop in and out but you don’t want all the material to fall out either.

Second: Choose Dust Bath Materials

The two most important materials above are the diatomaceous earth and wood ash.

Both of them will kill pests that infest our chickens which is the number one importance of the dust bath.

The dirt or sand is just a filler to mix in so it’s optional. Then depending on what you have available, the wood ash or diatomaceous earth should be added in to kill pests.

In the wintertime, I have lots of wood ash from cleaning out the fireplace but during the rest of the year, I will usually mix sand and diatomaceous earth together.

Read more: 3 Benefits of Using Diatomaceous Earth for Chickens

Third: Mix Materials and Refill as Necessary

After choosing your dust bath materials mix them together and then refill the container as needed.

It’s best to keep the dust bath outside in the chicken run and preferably under a cover if you have one.

If you don’t have a cover it’s no problem though and you should just refill it with fresh material after the rain so it’s fluffy and dry.

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Why a Dust Bath is Important for Backyard Chickens

Chickens will naturally take a dust bath every day to every other day.

It is the way they are able to clean oils and dirt from their feathers and get rid of unwanted pests such as mites and lice.

If you already have chickens you’ve likely seen all the holes that they make!

If you’re thinking about getting chickens for the first time you can read more about them here: How to Get Started With Chickens

Chicken's Fluffing in the Dirt

They will scratch up loose dirt, lay in it, then fluff it throughout their feathers. And no matter how hard you try to keep them from creating holes everywhere, it’s pretty impossible.

But it will definitely help if you build a dust bath area for them to specifically dust bathe in.

They’ll still likely scratch in the dirt but the dust bath will be the area where you can specifically add beneficial materials.

The first most common benefit of a dust bath is that it cleans the chicken.

The second most common benefit is that it helps them to get rid of external parasites.

Common External Parasites

  • Mites
  • Fleas
  • Poultry lice

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use play sand for the chicken dust bath?

Yes play sand it perfectly fine to use. If you have access to other areas with sand such as a riverbottom, that would be okay to use as well.

How big should a chicken dust bath be?

It should be large enough for the chickens to move around in and easy for them to get in and out.

I suggest a minimum of 24-36 inches long and wide, and 8-12 inches deep.

When do chickens start dust bathing?

The short answer is pretty much from day one!

If you’ve ever raised baby chicks it’s common for them to start fluffing around in their chick brooder as soon as they can!

Learn more in my YouTube video below!

How to Make a Dust Bath for Your Chickens (With the Right Ingredients)


  • Pick a container.
  • Fill it with sand and or soil, food-grade diatomaceous earth, wood ash, or a combination of all.
  • Top it off as it gets low so chickens continue to fluff in it.
  • It will help the chickens get clean, get rid of pests, and help keep them from digging extra holes.

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Continue reading:

The 5 Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners


A Chickens Dust Bath in a Tractor Tire


  1. This is wonderful information! I had Chickens when I was younger and really want to give my girls some of that same farm experience. This information you shared makes me feel a lot more confident at tackling this endeavor-Thank you!

      1. Thank you for all of the wonderful information! Such a huge help for this beginning Chicky mama! Hatched eggs (for my first time ever) and now have 8 black cochins 2-3 months old. I never cared for pets birds, but being a chicken mama really makes every day better! They really are easy to care for, very loveable companions and such great comedians! I love my chickens!!! πŸ₯°πŸ”πŸ£πŸ“πŸ€πŸ₯πŸ₯°

    1. It doesn’t matter πŸ™‚ Sometimes I add all diatomaceous earth or all ash depending on what I have available. Or a mixture of all. The ash and DE are the most important.

    1. I use pine pellets on the ground first and then pine shavings on top of it. The pellets soak up water and moisture. Works wonders!

    2. Hi Cheri, I typically recommend keeping it dirt or sand because chickens will scratch around and dig holes and so it makes it easier to rake and clean out that way. But you can also add shavings on top of the dirt which is easy to rake up and cleanout.

  2. Hello,
    I am so excited about getting some chickens and am almost ready for them. I live in Portugal and cannot source a supply of diatomaceous earth here. We have plenty of wood ash and sand. Could I use cat litter in the mix instead of the diatomaceous earth?

  3. Hi Audrey, this is a great article! Should I put the dust bath in the sun or shade? Or maybe both?

  4. I would have a deep layer of wood shavings in my chicken coop (about 18 to 24 inches). I would fluff them everyday and the organisms from the manure and wood creates heat and keeps them dry. The bedding was changed every 6 months. I also had a vent which was a pvc pipe that was situated a few inches off the floor and up through the roof. It was the coziest coop.

  5. play sand has silica in it. it’s not safe. construction.sand or all purpose quickcrete sand is safe. it’s the same thing used in runs and coops by many but never play sand. it’s is really bad on their lungs.

  6. thank you for the dust bath ideas! In our inside chicken pen we use shredded cardboard on the floor and in their nests. Shredded cardboard is hugely absorptive, and becomes the ‘brown’ to the manure ‘green’. We deep bed layer it, then come spring it all goes to the compost bin. Regular turning and watering means it is ready for mulch use in about four months.

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