So....Diatomaceous Earth is good or bad?

Vanilla Gorilla

Songster
Oct 4, 2017
82
106
106
Utah
So I posted on here recently about a Blue Andalusian hen I have that has having some minor behavioral issues. I did mis-diagnose a molt, thinking she had already molted - turns out she was just getting started. That aside, she started having respiratory issues - constant wheezing, sneezing...just weird noises. I finally got a hold of her (she's extremely quick and agile) and saw there was a small amount of blood around her nostrils.

I couldn't think what could be the problem, so I started to backtrack a little. I didn't think it was a disease, or the other birds would have it as well. What had I changed? I had recently cleaned out the coop and run. Could it have been the shavings? I didn't think so since I've always used the same thing. I had read that diatomaceous earth can help with mites, lice, as well as de-worming properties. I checked on here and there are just glowing reviews of the stuff. So I added some to the coop and run after I'd cleaned it out. That was about it. So I started reading about D.E. again, and it turns out a lot of people also think it can be harmful, and it is an old wives tale type of thing.

I will say that I re-cleaned it out, and removed all of the D.E. - and the respiratory problems went away almost immediately. I think I'm coming down on the side of the stuff actually being detrimental to the health of the chickens. Has anyone else had experiences like this?
 

SniperGoose

Crowing
Apr 15, 2018
307
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Central PA
I've personally never used D.E. in my coop. I use food grade D.E. in their feed sometimes - I mix in a small amount, no more than 2% of the actual feed. All my chickens are just fine, and have never had issues with it. I know that people are not supposed to be inhaling the dust from DE because that can cause problems. Having it in your coop, and them being chickens, they probably scratched around some and stirred up dust perhaps? That's the only thing I can figure. I imagine animals inhaling the dust probably isn't the best for them either. Food grade DE can be good, in small amounts. There are probably other better/healthier alternatives for helping fight mites and whatnot in the coop. I'd steer clear of adding it in your coop after that, and just add a little bit of food grade DE to their feed every now and then.
 

ChickenLeg

Crowing
9 Years
Feb 15, 2012
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I haven't had an experience like this before but I have used DE for mites. After I bathed chickens in a warm bath, they were dried off and once completely dried DE was rubbed over them very well deep into their feathers (I wore a face mask). I put pyrethrin in a weed sprayer designated for pyrethrin only and sprayed down the inside and outside of the coop and all wood on the run. I would return the chickens to their coop the following day. This always got rid of the mites. I eventually began spraying once in the spring, mid summer, and fall. No more need for DE and no more mites :)
 

Vanilla Gorilla

Songster
Oct 4, 2017
82
106
106
Utah
DE only has anecdotal stories, no scientific proof behind it being useful. In fact, I'm pretty sure science has proved it does nothing. DE is not good to inhale for anyone. I used poultry and garden dust when I need to treat mites and it works well. I use dewormer when they have a bad worm load. Which is rare.
My own experience inclines me to agree with you. I have fed it to them, and noticed no effects. I found permethrin spray to be much more effective for bugs, and haven't had a worm problem yet. I think I'll steer clear of it going forward.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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I'd be hard pressed to tell you what brand...I did make sure it was food grade though.
Some DE 'products' have little DE in it. One of the RedEarth products is mostly clay, read labels carefully.

Had an interesting discussion about DE, with a pretty good study cited, earlier this morning...starting with this post:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...sues-help-please.1277694/page-3#post-20569517

In answer to the Thread Title question......the only thing it's good for, IME, in the chicken world is killing grain mites in feed.
 

Vanilla Gorilla

Songster
Oct 4, 2017
82
106
106
Utah
Some DE 'products' have little DE in it. One of the RedEarth products is mostly clay, read labels carefully.

Had an interesting discussion about DE, with a pretty good study cited, earlier this morning...starting with this post:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...sues-help-please.1277694/page-3#post-20569517

In answer to the Thread Title question......the only thing it's good for, IME, in the chicken world is killing grain mites in feed.
Awesome! Thank you, that kind of backs up what I had been thinking. Granted, there's always a hundred different ways I could have done something wrong - too much, too little, too this or that - It seems like the stuff really isn't good for much other than what you'd mentioned.
 

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