My Umbrella Dusting Station For Chickens + DIY Tips - Pardon My Dust
Hi Treats for Chickens community, it's me, Dawn!
Fun, warm days slinging treats in green grasses with my butt planted in a lawn chair enjoying a micro-brew with the chickens at my feet is always a good memory.
A sweet, sweet memory.
But here's the kicker:
Some days it's about survival: snow, frost bite, frozen mud, or sand bagging the coop so it doesn't flood or, or, or, in my case, tarping the roof so the rickety thing (circa 1946) doesn't collapse under the heavy rain fall here in Northern California (Petaluma, Sonoma County).
I get a lot of questions about the dusting space for my chickens and the gigantic umbrella.
So, I set aside the time and put together the details so you can make a dusting station.
Here's the thing:
Your backyard chickens need to dust year around.
Like every day.
Even more so in the Winter when the air is crisp, freezing, wet and just damn cold.
You know how your skin gets dry and wind whipped?
They get it too.
Even with all their feathers.
Ahnnnnnd: chickens in Winter are more prone to pests (mites, lice, etc).
Because backyard chickens rely on dusting in dirt (or dirt-like-matter) as their main way for keeping clean (in addition to preening), it's even more crucial to provide an area for them to do so when they can't do it on their own: frozen ground, no access to dirt, snow-on-everything.
Because, you see: backyard chickens also don't like to dust in the mud.
Find a container. I use a galvanized fire ring that I purchased a few years ago. Maybe you like a different design? Grab one at your local hardware or gardening store when your on your mission for the items below. You can also use a metal tub or half of a wine barrel, and if plastic use a non-toxic plastic kiddie pool, shallow bin, big flower pot, or deep tray/container/bin.
Purchase your umbrella at a small or USA business such as Sun Mountain (MT), Weatherman (NY), ShedRain (OR), and CEO Golf Shop (NE). Shop small, big love. Make sure you order the 62 inch automatic open golf umbrella. There are a few colors/patters. They do have smaller sizes if your space requires a smaller footprint.
You want all your things to arrive about the same time so order Treats for Chickens' Pardon My Dust beforehand to get yourself prep.
Head to the hardware store or landscape supply and purchase two things:
1.) Enough bags of compost/potting soil (NO Vermiculite or Perlite in the mix (example shown below)) to fill your tub, fire ring, bucket or bin half-way. Dirt and/or shavings will do just fine too.
The opening needs to be 2 inches wide so the handle of the umbrella will slide right in (see photo below).
The length of the pole is up to you but mine is 4 feet long (this way I can get under it to add more soil and Pardon My Dust, easily - see very, very last photo).
This height offers the best view for watching your flock and photo opportunities.
* Pro Tip: most local (not big-box) hardware stores have a department with a tool that will cut your pole to length so you don't have to buy one that is 6 or 8 feet long. If you have this luxury: ask for an additional cut on one end.
You want the end going in the ground to be a sharp point.
This isn't critical, just helpful AF. *
Once you have all your items:
- Treats for Chickens' Pardon My Dust
- Support pole
Put your container in place.
If you are using a container that has a bottom (tub, bin, etc) puncture a hole in the bottom to allow for the pole to slip through.
Hammer the pole into the middle, add bags of soil, scatter Pardon My Dust on top of soil and slide the umbrella handle inside the pole.
Repeat Pardon My Dust application at least weekly.
Depending on the size of your container, refill with dry soil when the levels lower.
As your chickens frolic they'll be tossing out the dry soil. Having more on hand saves an extra trip to the store.
A dust bath is the chicken equivalent of a shower- it is both functional and recreational ritual; chickens use dusty baths to clean themselves, to relax, and to social with others. It is the ultimate spa treat -ment. And with using Pardon My Dust, you'll definitely win the prize as the best chicken parent.
-Dawn, Treats for Chickens
Originally written in February 2019
Let's keep your flock happy and healthy!
Have other suggestions? Questions? Leave a comment below!