Hens Won't Use Dust Bath

Aunt Angus

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Jul 16, 2018
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Hi. I have 4 hens (1 yr), 1 pullet (5 mos), 3 chicks (3 mos) in 2 coops with a divided run. The hens have decided not to use the dust bath in the run. It's the same dust bath they've had since they were 3 weeks old. It has dirt, sand, and wood ash in it. They wait instead for when I let them out of the run to forage in the yard. Then they all hurry over and cram into the outside dust bath (The Spa).

It's not a big deal right now, but soon rain will make The Spa unusable, and I worry about mites. Is there anything I can do to entice them to use the bath in the run? Or will they just go back to it eventually out of necessity?

Here are 3 of them trying to dust bathe simultaneously. It ain't working very well...
20190915_183324.jpg
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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When that one become unusable in winter, they will find another spot - likely the dust bath area the run or they may even make a new one. Mine have favorite spots in the run for a while, then change/dig a new place. Chickens are weirdos, the don't appreciate anything you do for them :lol:
Exactly!! :gig


Dust bathing won't totally eliminate mites or lice.
Check them regularly and treat with permethrin if any are found.

Bug check notes:
Have you checked them over real well for mites and/or lice?

Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.

Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.

Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
 

Aunt Angus

Free Ranging
Jul 16, 2018
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Nevada County, CA
Exactly!! :gig


Dust bathing won't totally eliminate mites or lice.
Check them regularly and treat with permethrin if any are found.

Bug check notes:
Have you checked them over real well for mites and/or lice?

Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.

Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.

Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
Of course I check them. I check them weekly (Saturday nights). I check their crops, abdomens, and feet daily (crop and abdomen every morning, feet at night). But thanks for the reminder and useful info. I was more concerned that if they dust bathe less frequently, the likelihood of an infestation would increase.
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
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Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
Hi. I have 4 hens (1 yr), 1 pullet (5 mos), 3 chicks (3 mos) in 2 coops with a divided run. The hens have decided not to use the dust bath in the run. It's the same dust bath they've had since they were 3 weeks old. It has dirt, sand, and wood ash in it. They wait instead for when I let them out of the run to forage in the yard. Then they all hurry over and cram into the outside dust bath (The Spa).

It's not a big deal right now, but soon rain will make The Spa unusable, and I worry about mites. Is there anything I can do to entice them to use the bath in the run? Or will they just go back to it eventually out of necessity?

Here are 3 of them trying to dust bathe simultaneously. It ain't working very well...
View attachment 1909047
Is that the spa in the picture? I'm going to assume it is.
There are dust baths and dust baths when it comes to chickens. You may find that the dust bath you've made in the run is dry. The bath in the picture looks like moist soil.
I have both types of bath here. The dry baths get used only by the hens and it's a quick bath in general.
When they want a nice long bath with candles and essential oils with a little soft music playing in the background they use moist soil and the big bonus is the men get in there with them.:)
This article describes a bit of what I've found with the chickens here.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/why-chickens-bath-in-dust-and-not-in-water.74441/
 

Wyorp Rock

Hi Ya'll🙂
Premium Feather Member
Sep 20, 2015
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Of course I check them. I check them weekly (Saturday nights). I check their crops, abdomens, and feet daily (crop and abdomen every morning, feet at night). But thanks for the reminder and useful info. I was more concerned that if they dust bathe less frequently, the likelihood of an infestation would increase.
I don't think they will dust bathe less frequently, they are good about finding a spot. My main run is covered so stays pretty dry year round. I do go out and shovel/rake/fork up packed down areas if there are any, turn the soil in places and sometimes even rake it all up in a big loose dirt pile, they scatter it back all over the place, especially into the water bowl (love a muddy water bowl!) LOL
I understand your concerns, but if they have some loose dirt, they will take dust baths even in winter :)
 

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