DE and you.


9 Years
Jul 13, 2010
Hi all! I'm the newest member of our little farm and have taken over most of our chicken activities. Being a newb, I've been wandering through the various pages and issues that people are having with hopes of being pro active on some things. One of them is diatomaceous earth for pest control. There is a pattern I'm seeing. Some one has a bug problem, some one else suggest DE and some one else calls foul and says it's useless and/or ineffective. I find this curious and want to hear other people's experiences with it. Being organic, that is all we use for our flock and have never had an issue. We've used it to treat active infestations from purchases and as a dewormer. The caveat being it has to be food grade DE, anything else will be at best useless at worst toxic. What are people's experiences good/bad/middling?
Oooh...I'm excited someone asked this. I wanted to research DE and see the pro's and cons too. I was wondering how much is too much, how people use it for warding off insects...what it means by a 'DE bath?'...
Amorphous Diatomaceous Earth (not the calcined `pool grade' approx. 20% crystalline silica) that is used on stored grain/inert food additive/insecticide/desiccant contains <1% CRYSTALLINE SILICA (20% calcined crystalline is the stuff that huffed a lot will result in Silicosis of the lung). Breathing sharp and jagged calcined (heated and melted and crushed) Silica is bad.

`Food Grade' Amorphous Diatomaceous Earth does not kill insects by `cutting them up' it is a SORPTIVE DUST and kills by interfering with the outer waxy layer of the insect's exoskeleton, i,e., ADSORPTION and, as it continues this activity even after the insect is dead and, a dead insect doesn't move, no friction, e.g., `cutting/tearing' is necessary.

It is regarded as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the FDA. The EPA also regards ADE as safe for sale as an insecticide (requires different labeling) and can be used in the house/on pet beds/etc.

It is a relatively effective, relatively benign insecticide/desiccant. It is best used as a preventative. Some insects are more vulnerable than others. High humidity reduces its effectiveness.

For more info on the above, with links to EPA designation/mechanism of action/pricing info: (post #20) (posts #'s 11/20/22).
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I use Food Grade DE in the coop, run, and brooder to decrease the population of unwanted insects. I use Manna Pro Poultry Protector (non-toxic) on the actual birds to treat infestations. There are going to be post following mine which will claim Poultry Protector will not kill anything but I stand by my claim.

My 2 roosters recently had lice. I decided to see for myself what would work. I treated my BO (Archie) with Poultry Protector. I treated my mixed breed roo (Nugget) with DE. I cleaned out the coop and sprinkled DE in it. Three days later I checked my boys and found no lice on Archie at all and Nugget was still infested. They had both slept in the same coop. I waited with no further treatment for a few days and rechecked. Archie was still lice free, Nugget seemed to have fewer lice but he was definately not free of them.
I use it in my compost bin. I used it to treat my dogs for fleas, didnt work. Saw a decrease but they were. Still there.
Speaking of dog fleas....I'm open to ideas. Spray didnt get them. Advantage didn't. Shampoo didn't. I'm going to ban them outside soon. I started feeding brewers yeast.
Four Paws brand Brewer's Yeast with Garlic from Jeffers Pet. I give to my two Westies every day and I have none of the previous problems with any bugs, including fleas, and no skin problems at all AND it cuts down on shedding!

As for the DE..I use it every day! My 18 chickens have no lice or mites, but I don't dust them with it. I sprinkle it in the run, on the roosts, in the nesting boxes, etc. I have far fewer flies than when I don't use it. The best thing about it, in my opinion, is the drying of the poop. I sprinkle it on the poop board every morning after I scrape it. As we all know, chicken poop can be runny, slimy, etc., and the fast drying action not only makes it easier to clean up the coop, but it also keeps the smell from building from the moisture content. I will use it forever, and ALWAYS WITH A MASK. DO NOT USE WITHOUT A QUALITY RESPIRATOR! A good one will last for a long time.

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