One of my favorite chicken behaviors is to watch them dust bathing. This weekend it looked like it was chickens day at the beach where the only thing missing were fruity drinks with umbrellas in them.
Momma Clover starts scratching in the dry dirt trying to make a hole big enough for herself and the little ones come right over and start scratching and digging too. Clover moves over to another spot to make it her own and it like she is thinking. “Can’t I just have 10 minutes to myself to take a bath!” But the five babies are right their bathing as close as they can possibly get to her and jumping on top of her at the same time.
Won’t someone please watch the kids for a few minutes for me?
Clover likes to bath under the coop itself where the soil is very loose, warm from the sun and dry. She scratches and proceeds to dig herself in. She will dig and dig, scoop the dirt with her beak, throwing dirt all over herself, roll repeat and shake. And the babies do the same and try to stay as close as possible to momma while they are dusting too.
Clovers favorite place to dust is in the dry dirt under the chicken coop.
I love to stand by and watch the entertainment.
They dust bathe as a means of cleaning their feathers by taking the natural oily-ness off. They also get the dust on the feather shafts and skin which lessons mite infestations. Some chicken keepers take advantage of their interest in dusting to add some food grade DE (Diatomaceous Earth) to the area. It’s the easiest method to prevent lice and mites. I’ve read that the DE dehydrated the critters as well as poke holes in them so they die.
See the dust a’flying?
I made a decision to not use the DE with my chickens due to concerns for their repertory systems.
We built them their own “sand box” but they never use it. They like the spot under the coop or the sunny corner of the run. Even the baby roosters like to bath.
The Three amigos decided they want to be on top of momma while she dusts.
Kathy the Chicken Chic say this…”A dust bath is the chicken equivalent of a shower – it is both functional and recreational; chickens use dust baths to clean themselves, to relax, and to socialize. The fact that they are entertaining to us is a collateral benefit.”
A time to snuggle and to be sociable!
At the end of the bath they shake, preen and groom their feathers back into place.
Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna