Chicken Health: Using Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Health


As with so many products, diatomaceous earth has it's positives and it's negatives.  I am not an expert, I don't know as an absolute what this product will or won't do, I'm simply sharing my experiences and how I use it.

What it is:  
Diatomaceous earth is a fine white powder made of tiny fossilized remains of diatoms.  The caution of use is in the possibility of inhaling this product.  The powder consists of razor sharp edges of the diatom remains and may irritate mucous membranes in the nose or mouth or, result in respiratory problems with prolonged exposure.  You always want to use a dust mask when applying it.  The theory is that since it's a risk to inhale it may not be absolutely safe for poultry to ingest.  In essence, the exact reason for the safety warnings are how it destroys bugs.

What it does:
If you read the packaging on diatomaceous earth, you will note it claims to be a natural solution to help prevent intestinal worms, lice and mites.  In order for it to prevent intestinal worms, the chickens must consume it with their food.  Preventing lice and mites means they must dust bathe in it or have their wings and vents powdered with it.  I don't do either because of the risk of inhalation.


How I use it:
I use food grade diatomaceous earth {always use food grade} in the nesting boxes, on the roosts, on the coop floor and in the cracks and crevices of the coop purely as a prevention mechanism for lice and mites.  We had one very bad {VERY bad} mite infestation a couple of years ago and since then I'll do anything in my power to prevent another.

When the girls are outside I put on my dust mask and sprinkle the powder liberally in the litter on the floor, in the straw in the nesting boxes {making sure to coat the cracks}, on the roosts {I rub it in} and in the corners of the coop.  Mites like dark, warm areas so I pay special attention to those.  I typically apply this in the spring when the creepy crawlies are coming out, when the humidity begins in the summer, and again in the fall.

There is still the risk of inhalation for the chickens, albeit minimal compared to ingesting it or dust bathing in it.  It seems to have worked for us in the prevention as we haven't had a lice or mite outbreak since we began using it.

Another great use - it kills ants in an ant infestation.  Every spring we get mounds of red ants in a few places on our property.  A liberal sprinkle of diatomaceous earth does the trick.  Within 24 hours, no more ants.

Additional Chicken-Keeping Posts:
So You Want To Raise Chickens:  Part 2
When Will My Chickens Start Laying?
Supplementing A Chicken's Diet
Chicken Water
Chicken Coop 101:  13 Lessons We Learned Building Our Coop
The Chicken Coop at Cobble Hill Farm
All You Need To Know About Chicken Roosts
All You Need To Know About Nesting Boxes

5 comments:

Loretta said...

Ooh,this brings back memories! Love your foul...what a treat for me to see them up close again! Have a great weekend!
Loretta xx

Dianna said...

Hi, I'm still following your blog and have been learning so many things! Thank you, again, for sharing your knowledge. Regarding preventative maintenance for chickens, do you prescribe to any additional preventative maintenance for worms? I've read that other chicken keepers use Verm-X for prevention. I also see that Wazine is a popular de-wormer, not necessarily for prevention but only for treating for worms. What is your experience with this? Does diatamaceous earth treat worms enough on it's own? Thanks so much!

daisy said...

Great information! I am planning on using DE to treat whatever is eating my bean plants. Good to know a mask is needed. I'll store this in my "chicken info" folder! ;0)

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I didn't know about using it for chickens, but can tell you that I used it last year when we had problems with fleas. I dust the dogs with it, and put it onto their beds too--It works just as good for them as it does your chickens, which is wonderfully!!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks Loretta!

Dianna - any of the chicken de-wormers with ivermectin in it will work. We typically de-worm once in the Spring and once in the Fall if any of the girls start showing any signs. I'll have a "worm" post coming soon. :) Those who make and sell Diatomaceous Earth say it's a great preventative for worms but because they have to ingest it I haven't used it in this way. Hope this helps!

Thanks Daisy!

Kim - I have heard it works with fleas although thankfully {knock-on-wood} I haven't needed to try it. :)