Have you ever wondered why you sometimes find your chickens rolling and kicking around like maniacs in the dust and dirt? While many may think this is just another common quirk that all chickens have, there is actually a method to their madness. Your chickens are actually bathing themselves in what we like to call a dust bath. While we would never consider this method to keep clean, there are actually several benefits. Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits this ritual offers and how you can help better your chicken’s bath.

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Benefits of a Dust Bath

Although the term sounds counter-productive, dust baths are a natural practice for chickens that help maintain their health and hygiene.

To keep their feathers smooth and tidy, chickens have a larger number of oil glands that can be a bit overproductive at times. During a dust bath, the dust helps absorb any extra oils that are causing your chicken discomfort. It also helps rid your chicken of old skin.

And like these unwanted oils, dust baths also ward off and kill unwanted creatures such as mites and lice. These critters are known for causing itching, anemia, feather loss, and sometimes death among our feathery friends, so if a harmless frolic in the dirt is what it takes to keep them safe, no problem!

Lastly, dust baths also keep your flock smelling fresh — a perk that benefits everyone.

Build the Perfect Bath

There are several ways in which you can help aid your chickens when it comes to bettering their bath. First and foremost, if you don’t provide a dust bath for them, they will make one. Therefore, if you want to avoid any risk of your flower bed becoming their favorite backyard spot, we suggest you provide one for them (preferably in a location where they can also bask in the sun!).

If you’re building a bath for free-range chickens, or chickens that have access to roaming an area of land, we suggest adding a few inches of silty, dusty dirt, or diatomaceous earth, to a bowl-shaped plot of land. You can also add wood/fireplace ash, soil (chemical-free), dried herbs, and builder’s sand for a more desired consistency.

If you’re building a bath inside of your chicken coop, we recommend choosing an area that is away from their waterer and feeders, so that their food and water remain clean. Using the same materials, fill up old wooden boxes or crates to create baths for them.

If you’re still learning about what it takes to take care of and nurture your chickens, learn more about flock management on our website or visit our blog.

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The Happy Chicken Coop: All About Chicken Dust Baths

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