I've read about chickens taking dirt baths and I've read on BYC to put sand in their runs for this. We currently have "river sand" in the run, which I think will drain rain away nicely, but with the bigger gravel than "play sand" is not condusive to chicken baths.
When we let them out to free range, they run right to my flowerbeds and take a dirt bath. So, I'm confused...do they want fine sand or dirt to bathe in?
So, I wanted to do an experiment: scrape up a corner of their run and put in play sand. BUT, I will also get a big 10 gallon plastic tub and fill it 3/4 full of potting soil (Hubby is worried if I put dirt down in the corner of the run, it will just wash away/turn to mud, so keeping it conained in the tub is a better idea).
This should answer the question on which the chicks prefer for bathing...dirt or sand.
Here are the materials (Hubby read the outside of potting soil to find it is made mostly of chicken poo and cow manure...so we used peat moss):
First step is take off the run cover so we can get in there:
Scrape out the corner, and put a piece of wood for separation from the river sand. This is about 4 inches deep - goes down to the chicken wire we put under the concrete footing:
Here is a comparison of river sand vs. play sand:
Now, fill a tub with peat moss:
Sprinkle everything with food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) to make for a nice mite-busting bath:
Put it all back together and let the girls in. They voted with their feet! Peat moss wins.
Maybe they just haven't seen the play sand yet? I'll keep watching!
**Update**: They stayed in the dirt bath for hours until the sun was directly overhead, then they went for shade.
We put up some shade cloth on top of their run, and they went right back to the dirt bath. I think we have a clear