If you have backyard chickens, sooner or later, you may notice something strange that they do. In the dirt, the chicken will roll around in it. This will make you wonder why do chickens roll around in the dirt?
In this short article, I’ll go into detail about why chickens roll around in the dirt, and why it’s important for them.
Why Do Chickens Roll In Dirt?
Chickens don’t take baths in water as humans do. Instead, chickens will take a bath in the dirt. They will roll around in the dirt, which will help them in many ways.
By taking a dust bath, it will help remove pests from their feathers, remove excess oil from their body and feathers, and kill parasites such as fleas, lice, and mites.
A dust bath is important for a chicken like taking a bath in water is for us.
What Is a Dust Bath?
A dust bath is simply a small pit that the chicken has dug out. They will usually dig out loose soil, sand, pebbles, and other debris that’s available.
They will then roll around in the dirt and cover themselves with it.
The dust bath isn’t too deep or too shallow. It will be enough where the chicken will be able to lay in it and rub the dirt all over their body.
Chickens benefit from dust baths in two ways. The first one is to absorb excess moisture and oils that are on their skin. The other is to kill lice and other pests that are hiding in their feathers.
Should You Make Dust Baths for Your Flock?
Chickens will usually make their own dust bath. They will find somewhere with loose soil and dig themselves in.
However, if the chicken is kept in a run and there are thick grasses, you will need to help them out.
Chicken’s beaks and claws are not capable of digging up thick vegetation such as grasses.
All you need to do is clear the grasses and dig up some topsoil. Then loosen the soil up, so the chickens will be able to create a little dust pit. Make sure the area has a lot of sunlight, so it will stay dry.
What Other Materials Can You Use To Make a Dust Bath?
Besides soils, there are some other materials that you can add to their dust pit. It will help them out a bit, especially to get rid of lice and other pests.
Below are some of the following materials you can try:
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a great additive for a dust bath. It helps kill parasites while being safe for the chickens.
In the dust bath, add some of the diatomaceous earth to it. The chickens will do their usual business to bathe themselves.
When using diatomaceous earth, just be careful not to use too much of it. A little of it will do a good job of ridding parasites. Also, make sure it doesn’t come in contact with your skin either.
You can buy diatomaceous earth from Amazon.
Herbs are another great material to add to the dust bath. Not only will it help clean your chickens, but it will make them smell better too.
Some of the popular herbs to use are lavender and mint. These two herbs have properties that provide antioxidants and repel insects.
There are other herbs you can try since most of them are safe for chickens.
Out of all the materials to use, sand is the best bathing material. Most other animals in the wild that live in the desert use sand to clean themselves.
Sand is readily available as you can get some from the beach if you’re close to one. If not, pet stores have plenty of sand that you can buy.
Dump some of the sands into their bathing pit. The sand will help clean their feathers, kill parasites, and remove any excess oil from the feathers.
The last piece of material to use for a dust bath is wood ash. Most people will throw it away after, but instead, you can use them for your chickens.
The charcoal ash from wood contains useful compounds that can benefit your chickens. It has calcium, magnesium, and other properties to keep the chicken clean.
Do Chickens Need Dust Baths In The Winter?
Even when there is snow covering the ground, chickens will need to take dust baths. During the winter, chickens do still get parasites on their body and feathers. So they will need to take a dust bath to get rid of them.
Chickens will naturally try to find loose soil to take a dust bath. If it’s not available to them, they will bathe in the mud.
Since mud is sticky and will make a mess when they enter the coop, it’s a good idea to create a dust bath for them.
Somewhere close to their coop or in the run, dig a small place for them to make a dust bath. Clear all the snow and grasses, so there is only loose soil.
When you see your chickens rolling in the dirt, it means that they are taking a dust bath. This is very important for them as it is a way to keep themselves clean. Make sure there is an area of the yard available for them to create a dust bath.