dust baths & heat???


8 Years
Apr 6, 2011
I had a question about dust baths, about how old will they be when they start using them and do they need to be taught by an older hen or is this something they just tend to figure out on their own? For a small amount of hens (3) would a small plastic under bed container filled with sand or just plain ole dirt be ok or do you think they'd need more. I believe the dimensions would be about 3 feet by 2 feet and 2-3 inches deep. As for the heat would the use of a light garden mister in the run area be helpful to cool them off or do you think that would just be a waste?
Hi Confusedturtle,

wow, I'm interested in this too.

I got a giant flower pot saucer -- It was about 13" across and maybe 2 or 3 inched deep. I put some silt-like dusty dirt from our washout in the road into it, and stuck that in their run, because I move my coop and run daily and they are always on grass. (I also have three hens). They loved it. But, due to the shallow sides and the vigorous dusting they gave themselves, they threw the dirt out everywhere...eventually when they stepped on the edge they tipped the rest out.

Next I am going to try a dishpan--like you put in the sink...Rubber maid is one manufacturer.... I have some "play sand" now, and can dig/scoop some of the same dusty silt that I had before. I am going to add a cupful or two of DE. The sides will be taller, so perhaps the contents won't be thrown out as quickly. I think that if you have any cold ashes that is another recommended additive.

It soiunds like you will have a really nice sized 'sandbox' for your hens to dust in. Because your space is so much larger, the depth of the sides may not be any problem at all. You should go ahead and give it a try and post back the results, unless some other Back yard chickeners have expereince that would point to the contrary.

In the meantime, my hens will still try to dig up all the grass, get down to the dirt and flop in it and try to dust-- it is very hot here now..so it must give them some relief--- Maybe even more than a dust bath would-- they have varying degrees of success...with their excavations, and then whooosh the run and coop get moved again (like a chicken tractor).

Glad that you posted this -- I'm going to get that old dishpan out and fill with dust and sand and DE.
They dustbathe very early. I've seen 5 day old chicks outside trying to imitate mama.

Lots of folks use misters to keep their flocks cool in the summertime. In a run it can get messy aka muddy though.
they will bathe young and instinctively. and i just let mine bathe in sand when they are chicks and in dirt when they are big and in the coop.
The coop/run is being built this week, the girls are almost 5 weeks old now. They have a small plastic container of water in it just to soak in if they wish but I m glad to know the misters and plastic pan dust bath are an ok idea. Thanks

My chicks instinctively knew how to bathe and used the shavings to flop in and flip the shavings over their back. WHen moved out side, some continue to use the shavings in the coop and others have dug pits in the moist layers of decayed wood and leaves. THey find a way. I forgot to put out something special.
I don't know how big your container is, but I understand chickens do not swim. One of my hens fell in the kiddie pool and was able to get out, but I read just after that that their down absorbs the water and they sink!! No one has gone near the pool since this event.
We have large feeding pans that we fill with dirt. We also have a big rubbermaid tote filled with the dirt so we can add to the pans when needed and they even hop into the big container and use it. During the hot days, we run a fan on them and they love to sit in front of it.

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