Chicken Dust Baths


| 5/2/2019 1:08:00 PM


 

I've noticed that chicken dust baths and how to make them are a hot topic on Pinterest.  If you've ever owned chickens, you already know what chicken dust baths are.  If you're new to backyard chicken keeping or if you haven't owned chickens, you may be scratching your head trying to figure out what in the world a chicken dust bath is.

If you're a chicken owner, you may have noticed your chickens laying around in a dirt spot, scratching and throwing dust all over themselves.  They then get up, shake off and keep going like it's totally normal.  For us, the idea of bathing involves soap and water.  For chickens, all they need is a good coating of dust.  Seems the opposite of 'bathing' until you understand the reason that they do it.

Why do chickens cover themselves in dust?

There seem to be a few reasons that chickens dust bathe. 

The first is linked to external parasites.  Poultry are subject to infestations from fleas, lice and several kinds of mites.  Chickens have learned over time that by rolling in dust, they can remove and prevent these parasites from living on them.  The parasites that live on the chickens bite the skin and chew it to draw blood to the surface.  They then drink the blood from the chickens.  The dust works in two ways to prevent the little pests.  The dust coats the skin, making it harder for the parasites to chew through the skin.  The dust also gets into the respiratory pores of the parasites and kills them.



Chickens groom their feathers with oil that is secreted from preening glands.  This oil helps to keep the feathers smooth, waterproof and clean.  The oil is continuously made and can become too much.  Dust baths can soak up any excess oil that isn't needed on the feathers or skin.





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