Red Wattle hogsSince hearing about Diatomaceous Earth (DE) a couple years ago, it seems to come up repeatedly in things I’m reading. I find it interesting that people are so enthused about it and that it’s recommended for many diverse functions. Now that I’ve begun to research and use it, I can see that many of its suggested uses apply to our homestead. 

Just briefly, DE comes from fossilized diatoms (algae) that have calcified and layered as sedimentary rock. In the United States, it is now mined from old lake beds which are mainly in Colorado and Nevada. It feels like a very light powder because each diatom is so porous, but they each have jagged edges. These properties are key to its functions. 

Unless you’re buying filters for a swimming pool, the DE you want must be “food grade.” This won’t be contaminated with anything toxic and won’t be dangerous to breathe or handle. You can buy the food grade DE at your local feed store, some nurseries and online. One brand for smaller quantities is called “Pure-Earth.” Our 50# bags are called, “Perma-Guard.” Now let’s talk about why you might want some. 

Worming medicine: This is our first year of having our Red Wattle hogs, and unlike the other animals, there is a strong recommendation to worm them. My husband bought a standard worming medicine at the local feed store and read the contents out-loud to me when he returned home. It’s not that we knew what most of the ingredients were, but when he got to the part that said “Any remaining medicine should be buried at least 18 inches deep in the ground,” we knew it wasn’t for our small farm. How could something considered that toxic be recommended for our animals or what could potentially be people’s food? 

After returning the unopened bag, we did an online search and DE was repeatedly recommended as a worming medicine. In the case of hogs, two tablespoons are given once-a-day, though we now have it mixed in the bulk feed. Additionally, intermittent rosemary and garlic are given—a combination we love to mix in our own meals! Using DE for a worming medicine certainly feels saner than serving the pigs poison.  

cabbage and cosmos in gardenFly Control: I’ve been purchasing “predator wasps” as an organic method of reducing the number of flies around our farm. Our Dutch Belted cows seem especially tormented by flies in the summertime. Putting DE in all our critters’ (horses, miniature donkeys, pigs, turkeys, chickens and cows) food means that DE comes out in their poop. As flies lay their eggs in the manure and their eggs develop into maggots, the DE is there to kill the maggots. It is thought to do this by scratching the maggots and causing them to dehydrate. Death occurs over about 48 hours and can make a big difference in reducing the number of flies. This is definitely going to be less expensive then purchasing predator wasps. 

gayle777
10/7/2015 9:15:11 AM

After reading this post on diatomaceous earth (DE), I'd like to thank the author for writing about such an underused natural product. I believe, however, the article does contain several statements that are concerns, for me at least. First, DE is not something you want to breathe. Food grade DE isn't SUPPOSED to cause silicosis, but if you think smoke from cigarettes is harmful to smokers, and breathing coal dust is harmful to coal miners, it just makes sense to take reasonable precautions when using DE, for yourself and your animals.In fact, it's listed as a safety consideration on the packaging. Second, DE is indeed harmful to bees, in fact to all insects, whether humans consider them beneficial or not. As the author stated, it is a mechanical insecticide, scratching and damaging the exoskeleton so the insect can't retain normal body fluids. There is really no defense, so resistance can't develop but also no species of insect would be immune. Last, although I know it's added to some commercial toothpaste formulas, personally I would think twice before adding DE, or any additional abrasives, to toothpaste. The enamel on your teeth will never grow back once damaged. Just my personal feelings. But overall I really loved the article, and it gave me some ideas on new uses for DE! Thank you!


Paula
7/19/2014 8:31:49 AM

I use it all around the outside foundation of my house when ants and spiders start to come calling. Takes care of that problem. And it is far cheaper then iffy chemicals.


collette
6/5/2014 12:08:20 AM

Im a first time user of DE and after reading the comments im excited to see it work.Im currently helping a friend spay and neuter about 50 cats and some of the cats stay in an old house on the property.Its full of roaches and probably fleas so I needed an organic solution.Shes worried I might hurt them with chemicals.I would never do anything to harm these poor cats but Im glad I found this.I've wanted something natural to treat my own cats.I have two that will not let me put Advantage on them so I figure if I treat the areas they sleep I can cover them that way and putting it the food for worms is excellent for ferals.I will let you know how it goes.I would like to know how much do you mix with the pets food.And to Debbie Gregory,what is the combination of DE and coconut oil that you use?





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