Wood ashes

I thought I would put a bucket of wood ashes in the chicken run so they can dust themselves if they want to - the stupid things started eating the ashes - hope it doesn’t make them sick - boy you never know what they will do
My birds eat wood ashes regularly and they seem fine. Their poops turn black afterwards too. I think there must be something in the ashes that they like/need. So far these chickens are pretty smart about choosing what is good to eat on their own.
Ditto, good advice so far. The stuff is harmless unless there is treated wood in the fire. There will be minerals and salts in the ash the chickens are craving. A lot of calcium although I am not certain all of the types are bio available but digestion might make them bio available, it usually does.

Do they already have a source of free choice calcium like oyster shell?
Here is something to think about though. Forest fires, tens of thousands of acres of ash with rainwater leaching it into the ground and streams. The forests thrive afterward.

To make lye strong enough to be a problem you have to have a lye leaching barrel set up with packed ashes and small amounts of water and even after that you have to boil the solution down till it is strong enough to be caustic enough for making soap.

I think a bucket of cold ashes is going to be fine even exposed to the weather but might need replaced after a rain. BTW Aunt Evey used to use a chicken feather to test the lye when she was making soap. if it ate the feather it was too hot and she would add water.
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