Why should I build a dust bath for my chickens? The first time I saw my chickens playing in the dust I didn’t understand why they were so. I thought they were just creating a mess in the landscape and nothing else. Such assumptions are common among new chicken owners who may not understand the practice of dust bathing among chickens. But with time they come to realize why their birds are behaving that way. Read on to find out more why chickens need a dust bath in their yard.
Dust baths help chickens clean themselves. In fact, they will spend most of their free time outside flopping around and wriggling in the dirt. This way, they get rid of external parasites such as lice and mites.
Dust baths are a necessity for your feathered friends. That’s why I encourage you to build one or several of these simple structures in your backyard. If you don’t do it, your chickens will create them on their own. Only that they might do so in places you don’t wish to see dust baths. These could be in your garden, in the field or near the fence.
Even if you try to discourage them from creating dust baths, your birds will go ahead and make a few. In this regard, you should find easy ways of making such structures to help them feel good when free-ranging. This is important, especially where your chickens cannot access the yard. Let’s go through several reasons why your chickens need dust baths.
Why Should You Build a Dust Bath For My Chickens
To Get Rid of Dirt and Parasites from the Feathers
To understand the importance of a dust bath for your feathered friends, you need to see how it is used. Once you get a glimpse of how this structure is used, it will make you see a lot of sense.
- Besides removing parasites and dirt from their feathers, chickens use dust baths to get rid of built-up oils. Chickens, just like most animals, have oil-secreting glands. This oil from preening glands is secreted all the time to keep your birds comfortable.
- But excessive production of these oils can lead to build up. When it happens that way, your chickens will look for the easiest means to reduce the build-up of such oils. And the only way is by use of dust baths.
To Protect Your Lawn, Garden or Landscaping
- Building a dust bath for your chickens is also an important step in protecting your lawn, garden or landscaping. These are the areas that chickens like the most when establishing their dust baths. This is due to the fact that such areas provide more space for scratching and rolling in the dirt. Also, lawns and gardens have loose soil which is easy to dig up when making dust baths.
- If you don’t act at the right time, you may end up losing your garden. Or you may wake up to find your beautiful lawn and landscaping in an irreparable mess.
- Since you don’t want to come across such unlikely scenes, you must find a way of diverting your chicken’s attention. For that reason, you should build several sites where your birds can roll in the dirt and scratch the ground. These sites will act as their dust baths and help you save your well-maintained lawn or garden.
To Make Your Chickens Happy
- Dust bathing is one of the chickens’ natural instinctual behaviors. This means they need to carry out this practice all the time they are out there free-ranging.
- Lack of dust baths will frustrate your birds and make them unhappy throughout. If this happens their overall well-being will be impacted negatively and their productivity will slow down as well. Before it happens, make sure that your feathered friends have a place to bathe as much as they want.
- Without dust baths, your chickens will be forced to carry out this ‘ritual’ in their bedding. But this will not be as effective and enticing as bathing in the dusty dirt. In addition, they will create a mess in their coop while trying to achieve that feeling of dust bathing. This shows that dust baths are a requirement for your chickens if you want them to be happy.
To Enable Your Chickens to Socialize with Each Other
- Apart from food and water, dust bathing can bring together your birds. This may sound like a fallacy but chickens tend to enjoy bathing in the dirt while in various groups. That’s why many poultry farmers consider dust baths as spots where their flock come together to enjoy this habitual exercise. In the real sense dust bathing is quite an enjoyable task for your birds to pass time.
How do You Build Dust Bath For Your Chickens?
A healthy and lively chicken requires bathing in the loose dirt regularly. This practice helps chickens to stay active and smell fresh throughout. As such, you need to ensure that your birds have access to dust baths when roaming the yard.
- But if you don’t have enough space in your backyard you should find ways of providing your chickens with these essential recreational facilities. In this case, you can create a few dust baths to help your feathered friends enjoy themselves during the day.
- To get started with this project, you will need a container measuring 24x15x12inches in volume. An old apple crate can do better if you don’t have time to find materials for your DIY dust baths. The crate works best if you have a small flock in your backyard.
- In addition to that, you will need ingredients such as :
- Builder’s sand
- Wood ash-you can obtain it from your wood stove or any other trusted source.
- Dry soil-must be chemical, vermiculite and fertilizer-free.
- Diatomaceous earth use (ensure that it’s food-grade for the safety of your chickens).
- Once you have the above-mentioned ingredients, you can start making your simple dust bath immediately. On that note, you can mix all the ingredients in equal proportions to attain the right mixture.
- On the other hand, you can come up with your own version of dust baths by combining different ingredients:
- Take 10 parts play sand and mix it with 1 part of wood ash then add diatomaceous earth.
- Add a few dried lavender to help repel some insects.
- Then allow your chickens to have access to this simple dust bath.
What happens when your flock of birds cannot find dust baths in your backyard? If you don’t provide your chickens with dust baths, they will find their own spots to kick up dust and sprawl out. Areas close to your house, gardens, under plants and shrubs, underneath your porch and base of some trees are likely to become hot spots for dust bathing. There’s nothing wrong with your chickens to establish their own dust bathing spots. But you should help them by creating a few dust baths around their free-ranging zone.
Are dust baths an essential part of your flock? Dust baths are essential places where your chickens play in the dry dirt to keep themselves free of parasites. These spots are not only important for the well-being of your flock, but also for protecting your garden, lawn, and ornamental crops.
Should you cover dust baths for your chickens or leave them open? You may cover these structures to prevent the wind from blowing away the dust and messing the yard. An easier way of securing dust baths is by use of lean-to type covers. But remember to remove these covers in the morning to allow your chickens into their dust baths.
Whether you include a man-made or rustic natural dust bath, the most important thing is for your chickens to have a place to clean themselves. This is the case, especially when you are raising your birds on a free-range. Dust baths will help them get rid of external pests, stay active and keep off your lawn or garden. These are reasons why such structures should be on your farm regardless of how many chickens you are keeping.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!