How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Chickens

Most chicken farmers want to keep their chickens happy and healthy without using harsh chemicals. I’m sure you are the same!

Diatomaceous earth is one of those things that might turn out to be your new best friend. 

When you know how to use diatomaceous earth for chickens, you’ll have discovered a natural and effective way to control pests, such as mites and lice, that can trouble your chicken flock.

Not only is it good for their skin (aka dust bath), it’s also great for internal parasites.

Diatomaceous earth was on my shopping list for weeks before I finally found some at our local hardware store.

It wasn’t very expensive, $24 for a large bag, that will last for quite some time. I also use it in my garden for pests and soil health.

Sprinkling diatomaceous earth in chickens’ dust bath areas can help keep pesky bugs at bay. You can also add a bit to their feed to promote better digestion.

The stuff that I bought is White Lake diatomaceous earth.

It’s a safe alternative for your birds when used correctly. By adding diatomaceous earth into your chicken coop, you’ll be giving your chickens a cleaner, and healthier environment to thrive in.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a natural product made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae.

It’s frequently used in gardening, farming, and pest control. For chickens, diatomaceous earth can help with pest control and provide several other health benefits.

Types of Diatomaceous Earth

There are two primary types of diatomaceous earth: food grade and filter grade.

Food grade is safe for consumption and is the type you should use with chickens.

Filter grade, also known as industrial grade, contains higher levels of silica and is used in pool filters and other non-consumable applications.

Always make sure to use food-grade diatomaceous earth for your flock’s safety.

Benefits for Chickens

Using diatomaceous earth with your chickens can help control parasites such as mites, lice, and other pests.

You can sprinkle it in their bedding and dust bath areas.

I made a dust bath for my chickens in an thrifted baby bath tub. I included a lot of ash, and a cupful of diatomaceous earth.

Besides pest control, it also helps with odor control by absorbing moisture and reducing the ammonia smell from chicken waste.

This makes for a healthier environment for both you and your chickens.

Applying Diatomaceous Earth to Your Flock

Applying diatomaceous earth (DE) to your flock can help with pest control and improve their overall health.

Safety Measures

If you’re sensitive, make sure to wear protective gear like gloves and a mask. DE is very fine and can irritate your skin and lungs. Make sure you have good ventilation when applying it, as it’s very powdery.

My bag broke before we even got away from the Hardware store, and it poofed a lot!

Keep DE away from your chicken’s eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent respiratory issues. Always use food-grade DE, as it’s safe for animals and humans alike.

Dosage and Frequency

For effective pest control, sprinkle a thin layer of DE in your chicken coop and dust bath areas. Ornithologists suggest applying DE every few days initially and then weekly once pests are under control. 

Dosage guide:

  • Coop: 1 cup per 10 square feet.
  • Dust Bath: 1/4 cup mixed with sand or soil.

Adjust based on the severity of the pest problem.

Application Methods

Use a flour sifter or a dedicated DE duster for even distribution.

Spread DE in the nest boxes, on roosts, and in common chicken areas to target mites and lice.

Ensure to mix it well into dust baths, as chickens love to roll and will coat themselves with DE. This helps keep pests off their skin and feathers.

By following these steps, you’ll create a safe and healthy environment for your flock! Plus its toxic chemical free, which is always a win.

Feeding Diatomaceous Earth to your Chickens

Using diatomaceous earth (DE) can help maintain the health and hygiene of your flock. You can incorporate it into their diet, bedding, and for parasite control.

Feeding Diatomaceous Earth to Chickens

The DE that I bought is specially marketed as an anti caking agent in chicken feed. I intend to mix some into our feed once we mill a big batch for the winter months.

Mix DE with your chickens’ feed to promote better digestion and support their immune system.

A general guideline is 2% of food grade DE in the feed. For example, for every 100 pounds of feed, add 2 pounds of DE.

Feeding DE can also help control internal parasites. Make sure to offer plenty of water so your chickens stay hydrated.

Using Diatomaceous Earth in Bedding

Sprinkle DE in the bedding to keep the coop dry and reduce odors. It helps absorb moisture and can deter pests like mites, lice, and fleas.

You’ll want to lightly dust the bedding whenever you change it. This helps keep the environment cleaner and healthier for your chickens.

DE can also reduce ammonia build-up in the bedding, providing a fresher space for your flock. And less smell.

Diatomaceous Earth for Parasite Control

DE is effective against external parasites like mites and lice.

Dust your chickens directly by sprinkling DE on their feathers and rubbing it gently into their skin. Pay close attention to areas like the vent and under the wings.

You should also treat the coop by dusting it with DE, focusing on cracks and perches where pests may hide. Doing this regularly can help keep your chickens comfortable and pest-free.

Make sure to wear a mask when applying DE to avoid inhaling the fine powder.

Monitoring Your Chickens’ Health

Keeping an eye on your chickens’ health is crucial when using diatomaceous earth. You need to watch for any side effects and measure its effectiveness to ensure they’re benefiting from the treatment.

Observing for Side Effects

Watch your chickens closely after introducing diatomaceous earth. Look out for respiratory issues, as inhaling the fine dust can cause problems. Signs to watch for include sneezing, coughing, or labored breathing.

Monitor their behavior. If chickens start acting lethargic or lose their appetite, it may indicate an adverse reaction. Also, check their skin and feathers.

Diatomaceous earth can sometimes cause dryness or irritation.

Keep track of egg production. A sudden drop could signal that something isn’t right. Maintain a balance and don’t overuse the product to avoid these issues.

Evaluating Effectiveness

After using diatomaceous earth, check if you see fewer mites and lice. Inspect your chickens regularly for pests to determine if the treatment is working. Healthy feathers and skin are good indicators.

Watch for improvements in overall wellbeing. Chickens should look more vigorous and active when they’re free of pests. An increase in egg production is another positive sign.

Keep a simple log. Note any changes in your chickens’ health and behavior. This will help you track the long-term effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.

Knowing how to use diatomaceous earth for chickens will give you another tool in your non toxic toolkit for chickens.

It’s important to use food grade stuff, and be careful not to inhale it as the fine dust can irritate your lungs.