Originally Posted by ejcrist
I have a new flock in a new coop and run and so far no problems yet but it's still early. I painted the inside of the coop and clean it once a week. I'd like to take some preventative measures to minimize the chances of getting mites, etc., so I picked up a 5 lb bag of food grade diatomaceous earth last week, and the store owner told me to dust the inside of the coop with it. Does anyone have any experience with DE and just how effective is it as a preventative measure?
It is effective as a preventative, with some caveats. The lower the humidity the greater the efficacy. It ab
sorbs ~x4 wt. in water. It's primary method of action on insects is via ad
sorption of the lipids (waxy material that prevents fluids in body from leaking out and evaporating) from the chitinous exoskeletons of insects. Though "cuttting/abrading" is often offered up as the explanation for the means of killing, this contribution to the demise is minimal for Amorphous Diatomaceous Earth <1% Crystalline Silica - "pool grade" diatomaceous earth - ~20% Crystalline Silica will kill insects primarily by cutting & slashing, but one wouldn't want to have the poultry or oneself huffing the stuff as Silicosis is a possibility if used as an adjunct in coops, and should be avoided. ADE is considered safe enough to use in one's home, it is slow acting and is more effective on some species of insects than others.
It does not lose effectiveness over time, if humidity drops, ADE dries out and is available to absorb water again. We have a sand base in coop/shed and just mix in a quarter cup per hundred pounds, and mix in a handful per cubic foot of wood chips that we spread on top of sand. Is only "dusty" in coop/shed when chooks/turks dig into bedding and droppings tend to dry out faster overall. Same setup for past decade with no lice/mites - no "wheezing" heard over baby monitor. Our 11 yr. old BSL hen is our biological assay (canary in "dust mine"), pretty spry old gal.
ADE is no panacea but it is a useful adjunct at this location (Mid Mo - wide variability in relative humidity levels).Edited by ivan3 - 3/23/16 at 9:49am