hen dust bathing

Hen Dust Bathing: The Ultimate Spa Treatment

There is nothing nicer on a warm day than watching your hens happily dust bathing. We almost have to forgive the craters that they create in the strangest of places, as well as in our flower beds and gardens for the sheer joy of seeing hens engaging in this wonderful activity! They close their eyes and roll in the dip they have created, throwing loose soil over themselves. Folks that are new to hen keeping can find it rather disturbing and we do get phone calls to our Hen Helpline reporting that the hens are having a fit!

So, why do hens dust bath?

Well, intrinsically hens are very clean creatures – they love to preen and groom themselves. Dust bathing is the way that they clean their feathers. The process helps to control parasites and prevents the feathers from becoming too oily. Hens prefer dry loose soil or sand and often choose the ground underneath their coop. You can also buy dust bath covers to keep the dry loose soil or sand from getting damp in colder weather. You can get one of these dust bath covers from our online shop here.

Be prepared for your hen to be very dusty at the end of the process, then stand back and watch as she shakes her feature and the dust goes flying – just like a dog!

What dirt is best in my dust bath for chickens?

There are a lot of different things that you can put in your hen’s dust bath to make it the best spa treatment for them. You can use the dirt that’s in your garden and mix it with other ingredients. You can use:

  • Dirt or sand
  • Diatomaceous earth powder
  • Wood or fire ash
  • Herbs, if desired

You can buy sand or use regular dirt. If you have rich topsoil, you might want to mix it with some sand. The point is to have loose dirt your flock can easily toss over themselves. You shouldn’t have to buy dirt to create a dust bath for your hens, but if you want to, you can easily get bags of topsoil at your local garden centre.

Fill a container with a layer of soil around 1 or 2 inches deep, smoothing it out so it’s even. Next, sprinkle diatomaceous earth over the soil. This will help to get rid of any mites or lice on your chickens and prevent them. The amount of diatomaceous earth you will need to use will depend on the size of your container, but we suggest using a 2:1 ratio of dirt to DE powder. If you plan to use wood ash, you can add it after the DE powder.

You can also add natural ingredients like herbs such as mint, sage and lavender to repel mosquitoes, flies and ants and prevent parasites like mites, lice and ticks from taking hold of your hens. Sprinkle some dried lavender into your flock’s dust bath to keep them fresh smelling too.

You can purchase Diatomaceous Earth powder from our online shop, along with many other products that will help you to create the best dust bath for your hens!

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If you’d like advice on your hen’s health, why not visit our Hen Health page, where we discuss important things to look for in your hen’s health, whether its personality or physical symptoms. Or, head to our Hen Examination Guidelines where we can show you where to find things like the crop or the wattle.

If you need to seek medical advice, click here to find your nearest Hen Friendly Vet.
You can also call Hen Central on 01884 860084 to speak to one of our rehoming assistants.

Giving a gift today helps fund our Hen Helpline. It helps support hen keepers, giving them the best advice on how to care for their hens. If you have found our advice helpful, please consider giving a gift towards the hen helpline here.

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