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