If you have ever kept chickens or been around them when it rains, you soon learn that they do not like water. So the idea of giving one of your feathered friends a bath is bound to be a daunting task! On the other hand, giving the chickens a bath….using diatomaceous earth is safe, effective and potentially the most beneficial way to help them keep themselves clean. At first, I thought it was kind of strange that chickens would roll around in dirt and sand and consider themselves clean, but once your birds discover the abrasive dust, they can’t resist tossing their bodies around in it. Much like you or I having a body scrub, a dust bath helps rubs removes dead skin and dirt, it also smothers mites and lice that may be hiding out in a chicken’s plumage. The result: healthy chickens that look, feel and smell good.
In our run at the farm, we use a children’s wading pool. You could make a simple frame or box, depending on the amount of chickens you have. The simple fact that chickens treat this exercise as a kind of social event, I recommend that you provide a bathing area that is spacious enough to accommodate two or more birds at a time.
I mix equal parts of industrial sand [not play sand] with diatomaceous earth from the farm supply store. I refresh it every week to keep up with the depleted supply that they inevitably toss out of their dry pool. At the farm, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 165 birds trying to bath on a daily basis, so I keep plenty of both ingredients on hand. They see me coming with a fresh bag or two of sand and the diatomaceous earth, and they come running. It’s kind of like watching a beauty pageant with all of my girls getting ready for a strut down the runway!