Is DE safe to mix with our chicken's dust bath?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by virgo91182, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. virgo91182

    virgo91182 Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm just wondering if DE ( Diatomaceous Earth) is safe to mix with my chicken's dirt in their dust bath? I've read it's both "extremely safe" and "extremely harmful" for chickens, which is odd because the research I've been reading about DE is you actually put it in their food, but others are saying you mix it with their dust bath, so I'm a little confused! Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  2. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are different types of DE. Make sure you get food grade. I mix it in with my chickens' dust bath. Great question, looking forward to others answers.
     
  3. virgo91182

    virgo91182 Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes, after doing more research I've noticed that, too. There's DE that you mix in with their food and there's also DE that you add to your garden to kill bugs. I figured I'd want to add the food DE into their dust bath, but just wanted to make sure. Thanks :)
     
  4. MacCana

    MacCana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi @Honey B !

    Yes it's safe. I actually add it to my deep litter in the coop floor, but you have to mix it yourself. Don't let the chickens do it and wear a mask when you do (or do it in a well ventilated area). You don't want you or them breathing in the dust. And that junk sure is dusty!!! It doesn't take much either. I'm sure there's exact measurements available online with little searching but for my 10x10 coop that had about 3-4 inches of litter I only used up to 2 cups of it. I would rake all the bedding into a pile and pour on the DE and then mix it with a shovel - then spread it back out. I only apply a few times a year. My one bag has actually lasted me 2 years so far. I don't think there is much an issue of doing too little, but there will be issues if you use too much. I've read that DE kills good and bad bacterium (that's my blanket "term" lol), so you would want just enough to keep the whole balance in check (thus keep away the "bad"), not enough to destroy it all.
    Sorry if that sounds more philosophical that factual [​IMG] but it has gotten me this far!!
     
  5. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Greetings @MacCana

    Thanks for the great DE info! All the tips you can pick up on BYC are wonderful! Your avatar picture is adorable!
     
  6. virgo91182

    virgo91182 Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes, thank you for the wonderful tips! We'll be buying DE (the food form) and we'll be mixing it in with the dirt and cold wood stove ashes to give them a nice dust bath!
     
  7. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    One thing to remember about DE and deep litter - what makes deep litter work so well are all the microbes breaking down the litter. So if DE is put down in the litter for whatever reason those microbes are being killed.

    The opinions on the effectiveness of DE in chickens' environments are so varied that if you put 10 people in a room and asked them, "How do I use DE and what is it for?" you'll get at least 8 different answers. Feeding it to chickens makes little sense....it's made up of sharp edged remains of tiny little critters and those sharp edges are how it works against soft-bodies creepies. So if the chicken ingests it and it hits the gizzard, the vast majority of those sharp little edges are negated by having them ground off. They are also not as effective when they are wet.

    I do put a little bit in their dust bath....just a little bit. But speaking just for myself (note that phrase) I just won't put any into the litter. Dust is a problem in most coops anyway - that baby fine talc that's a combination of dander, down, and dust from the litter. Inhaling the dust from DE is generally accepted as unhealthy for us so I'm not willing to have it mixing in with the rest of the dust in the coop. I need the natural decomposition in my coop to be effective and as natural a process as possible, so I want to reduce the bad stuff in there and encourage the microbial and insect activity that breaks litter down.
     
  8. MacCana

    MacCana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks @Honey B ! That's my Blackbeard there. He's quite the sassy fellow [​IMG]

    As @Blooie said, you ask 10 different people, you'll get 10 different answers. DE just seems to be one of those subjects lol.

    My logic for putting it into the litter rather than the dust bath was I didn't want them breathing it in. I had heard that it can stop the DLM (deep litter method) from being as effective in breaking down bc it kills the good with the bad also, but I have yet to run into that problem. It breaks down to a nice soil after so long anyway, even though I do add the DE, so I guess I'm not killing enough to cause a set back. Half the time they treated the coop litter like it was a dust bath anyway.

    Now that I've had time to think on it though, I bet You can still add the DE to the dust bath without it becoming too dusty I imagine. Just use some thick ingredients (a touch of sand to weigh it down maybe?) or even give it a light misting now and again with a spray bottle if you find it flying around and being to dusty for your liking. Hmmm, when we move I think I may try that myself. Because Blooie had a good point. It could improve the overall composition of my deep litter when it comes time to remove it and put it to use in the garden. Hmmmmmmmm.....

    Looks like a lot of people have success with DE when not overly used even thought it's in different, small ways.

    Seems we're all as different as the chickens we keep [​IMG]
     
  9. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    DE is fossilized micro algae which is not much more than microscopic rock with sharp and jagged edges. When it kills an insect, the death is physical. It gets between their joints and scratches up their waxy coating making them dehydrate to death. I don't see how DE can kill bacteria.

    I will be buying a kiddie pool as soon as the dollar store has them again to make a dust bath for my chicklets. I haven't hammered the ratios yet but I plan on a recipe of playground sand, peat moss, woodstove ash and DE and maybe some garden dirt if I need more filler.
     
  10. MacCana

    MacCana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Nupe , really now? I didn't even realize that's how it kills bugs. I'm such a loser sometimes [​IMG]

    I can't say for sure that it does kill bacteria. Alot my info is simply what I heard or read --- which is pretty much the same thing lol.

    The bag I have doesn't say either way on that subject if I remember right. I may check out the fine print later..., but I have read that in many places while doing online research. Seems to be one of the general opinions actually. Some even claiming it to medicinal properties, but I personally would never mix it into my feed. I don't want them eating it. So that's why I'm going off of that.

    It might be something to look more into because if it doesn't kill bacteria, then there's not much standing power behind not applying it to their litter when using the DLM. Which is where I heard most of the opinions against it.

    It's interesting to say the least. I am thinking about reading up on it some more [​IMG]
     

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