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Dust Bathing in Diatomaceous Earth

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by larsen202, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. larsen202

    larsen202 In the Brooder

    Nov 18, 2014
    I'm getting mixed messages on Diatomaceous Earth for dust bathing. I need info from experienced chicken people.
  2. DylansMom

    DylansMom RIP 1969-2017

    Jan 10, 2014
    From what I understand it is okay to add food grade DE to the dusting areas, it can have some value as a preventative/deterrant to lice. However if the birds are already infested with lice DE will not kill off the lice and clear up the infestation. You will need Sevin (vegetable dust) or poultry dust to actually get rid of an established infestation. And you will need to dust all areas, coop, run, roosts, and birds themselves, and wear a mask while dusting.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing 7 Years

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    If you have access to wood ash you can use it for the dusting areas or have a small kiddy pool of ash for a designated bathing area. It's an inexpensive deterrent to parasites.
    1 person likes this.
  4. the poppster

    the poppster Songster

    Yes I've mixed it in with the Sandy soil for my birds...I've also mixed wood ashes, crushed mint, oregano, dried crushed tansy leaves, peat moss, cheap bag soil (no additives)...I built a 4x4 ft Dust box for the birds...they spend the best part of the winter between their coop and a big covered run...
  5. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    Always use FOOD GRADE ( <1% crystalline silica). As members above have suggested, just mix in a bit in their regular dust bathing area.
    We have a fire pit where we burn nothing but raked up leaf clutter and branches - so, the wood ash and topsoil do the job. In the coop/shed we just add a couple of cups of amorphous diatomaceous earth (ADE) into the sand base & wood chip bedding. The stuff is a desiccant and can ABsorb up to 4 times its wt. in water so using straight ADE on Chooks, as primary material for dust bathing, isn't a good idea (just jam one's hand down into a bag of ADE and wait five minutes - one will require considerable "lotion" to soften one's hand afterwards - same with chook's skin).
    ADE, like other Sorptive Dusts, kills by ADsorption of the lipids from the outer covering of insect's chitinous exoskeletons which results in insect's fluids "leaking out", at which point the ADE then ABsorbs those fluids. ADE is more effective when relative humidity is low, some species of insects are more sensitive than others to the effect (Wood Roaches hanging out under the waterer remain too damp to give a "damp"). Even a light dusting & mixing of bedding before applying to floor will, most often, go a long way to drying out droppings.
    Pretty useful and, if one can get a 50lb bag at the feed store for ~$25, pretty cheap preventative/desiccant. A slow acting, sorptive, insecticide (primarily used to knock down weevil populations in grain storage).
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
    2 people like this.
  6. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    In my honest opinion the only thing DE will get rid of is money from your wallet. While dusting birds may be minimally effective against mites as stated above it won't get rid of them, it also won't be effective at treating the coop, most coops are not completely dry, putting DE in a damp environment is pointless. DE is really pushed on this forum by many people who want to keep their birds away from drugs or pesticides but the fact is that drugs and pesticides are the only real guaranteed way to eliminate the pest.
    4 people like this.
  7. bigt447

    bigt447 Chirping

    Jul 10, 2015
    I use DE to dry poop in coop & pen .....it almost totally eliminates odor as it dries it out.... So I don't have to clean those areas as often.
    1 person likes this.
  8. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging 7 Years

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I don't plan to inhale DE ever, and don't want my birds to have to live in it either. When lice or mites arrive, I will use permethrin to kill them, otherwise not. My birds dust bathe in sandy soil, and sometimes a little wood ash added. I'm totally with blu on this issue. Mary
  9. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin

    I agree, coops are dusty enough as it is, I'm sure I've inhaled plenty of nasty crap in my construction career this far and don't care to sprinkle anything in my coop that can cause silicosis
  10. I don't like the fact that DE kills all of the beneficial "bugs" in my deep litter. I want the litter to be able to compost naturally.

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