9 Quick Reasons to Use Diatomaceous Earth with Backyard Chickens - Treats for Chickens
Hi Treats for Chickens' community, it's me, Dawn!
I use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) with my flock and have since I started my chicken shenanigans in 2005.
Let me be clear: you are either Team DE or you are not.
It’s kind of like Team Crumble or Team Pellets.
You say Tomatoe or Toe-matoe.
You get to decide what works best for your flock and your situation.
Why do I/How do I use Food Grade DE?
It’s a natural (and not just “buzz word” natural). “Natural” in the sense that Food Grade DE comes from the Earth. As in Mother Earth and I like that. I think she’s pretty cool and if she’s making something I can use with my chickens I think my chickens will like it too. #myopinion
Food Grade DE is a fossilized diatom that comes from ancient lake beds. Diatom what? Ah, let me teach you: a diatom is the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms. And, so a diatom is your basic fossilized skeleton of little water thingamajigs that lived in the dinosaur age during prehistoric times.
The warning instructions are limited, and Food Grade DE does not adversely affect birds, fish or other wildlife (to include humans). Just does its duty on the unwanted critters below.
How does it work? Well, there are a few ways to explain how this powder works its magic...
- On a microscopic level, the DE particles are very sharp looking. These particles stick to an insect and get stuck between its exoskeleton joints. As the insect moves, it gets physically cut up. (harsh: yes. effective: yes!)
- DE sticks to the insect and somehow causes them to dry out. This approach involves scratching the insects waxy layer, which then allows precious moisture within the insect to get out.
Basically, the fossilized diatoms shreds and dries pests like lice and mites. I don’t want lice and mites on my chickens. Or jumping on me when I’m collecting eggs or cleaning the coop!
Not for use just ON your chickens: add Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth to nesting boxes, cracks and crevasses of roosts and eves in your chicken coop, under roosts and around the perimeter of your entire coop, water fountain, around the feeder and of course...dust your chickens to rid them of pest -y pests. I do.
I dust my chickens’ fluffy bottoms, their breasts, under each wing, their neck and I give a couple good squirts on their saddle as well.
Using a DE applicator is so much easier and makes about 1/3 of the mess. You don’t have to use one because you can stick your hand right in the bag and apply the DE by tossing it around but I am here to share the applicator is heavenly or enjoy our bundle of joy- Don't Bug Me Bundle (discounted). Without it you have a big mess because DE is the consistency of powdered sugar and is so light, fluffy and airy.
I dust two weeks in a row. On the same day. I write it in my calendar, and I stick to it. What I do waiver on is whether I apply at night when they are roosting or wait until the morning when they are all lined up at the trough feeder with their butts pointed in the air giving me the most access.
The next application is on week four and five. Usually on the same calendar day for no other reason than it’s easier for me to count and stay on track. Then I pause for four weeks and on the fourth and fifth week do it all over again.
I also dust my plants with Food Grade DE. Recently an invasive little green worm was reeking havoc on three of my Butterfly Bushes. Eating the leaves and making a big mess leaving behind it’s little granular turds. Dell, at one point, even trusted me to dust his coveted tomato plants – and that says something for the word “natural”.
DE is 100% natural and while I don’t personally use a dust mask .....but if you tend to be more sensitive to dust I would recommend it. There's no need to be unnecessarily breathing in tiny silica particles. But the choice is yours.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth also eliminates pests in stored grain and feed containers. Plus helps to reduce moisture and pests in coops, the run, litter boxes, and can be used in nesting boxes with Nesting Box Blend, brooders, compost piles, and other moist areas. More on that below.
The sweet smell of overpowering chicken poop and flies? When I’ve given my girls too many watermelon rinds or scraps from the kitchen their poops tend to get a little runny. Food Grade DE will reduce compost and chicken poop odor while cutting down on flies. Thank you very much!!
When added to food in small amounts (2% of daily intake) helps promote shinier feathers and coats, as well as maintaining a better production of eggs and overall health. Yes to this!
TIP: A longtime customer of ours adds a teaspoon of Food Grade DE to her yogurt every morning. She swears by it.
I’m sold on the benefits and ease of use of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. There's no egg withdrawal and it's safe.
I hope you’ll find it to be a beneficial product that you incorporate into your chicken keeping too.
Diatomaceous Earth as a Problem Solver and Preventative:
- 100% natural and Made by Mother Earth
- Shreds lice and mites that pester your flock
- Safe around all other birds, fish, wildlife and humans
- Effective pest control on plants too - [even Dell's once coveted tomatoes]
- Reduces when dusting under roosts and fowl areas.
- Lowers fly populations
- Promotes overall health when added to feed at 2%
- No egg withdrawal at all whatsoever!
- Easy to use accordion applicator
As I said at the start, this is a personal decision we should all make for our own situation. Personally, I do use DE dust chickens down if they have obvious signs of parasites and to dust those parts of the coop where I know mites collect [for a dust bath- I use Pardon My Dust]. Diatomaceous earth can cause sometimes quite heated discussions between chicken parents, and we must all take the available information and make a balanced judgement based on our own circumstances with our flock.
For more information, visit our friends at University of Oregon put together this detailed Fact Sheet
- Dawn, Treats for Chickens 🧡
Originally written in June 2019
Let's keep your flock happy + healthy!
Got something to cluck about? Have other suggestions? Questions?
Help fellow chicken parents, and leave a comment below!