Friday, February 4, 2011

Diatomaceous earth

You all know Kim works hard to keep her chickens safe, healthy and well cared for. She has a small library of chicken books on the shelf and the phone numbers of a handful of experienced chicken-raisers in her phone book for consultations. She is always reading, reading, reading.

One of the things she has learned is that late winter and early spring are a time when lice can be a problem for chickens. Not evil blood-sucking lice, but the relatively innocuous kind that nestle in among a chicken's tail feathers and snack on dead skin cells. They don't cause a chicken real distress, but still...yuck.

Chickens naturally combat insects by having dust baths, but if you want to help them with this, an organic way to prevent and treat lice is to use diatomaceous earth, which is often also used to control slugs and other pests in the garden. For those of you who are not gardeners, it's the powdered form of a sedimentary rock made up of the skeletons of lots and lots of little diatoms. It works against insects by drying out their exoskeletons. So I've heard.

So this week Kim made a trip to the feed store to get a few bags of the stuff, we did some poofing of the powdery stuff into the tail and underwing regions of each chicken, and we sprinkled more along the roosts and in the bedding in the coop. And as a piece de resistance, Kim added some to the chickens' favourite place to take a dust bath: a spot in Chicken Alley, against the wall of the coop.

So there they were this afternoon: soaking up the sun, fluffing up their feathers, flapping dusty pine shavings all around, and giving themselves a spa treatment all at the same time.


Flartus said...

Hmm, you're making this chicken-raising thing sound suspiciously easy...but then, I guess you have a resident expert, lol!

Crazy Lady with purple fingers said...

Love Diatomaceous Earth, we use it to pat all over the goats in the spring to get rid of all the mites that make them itch and itch, it is also in a natural mineral mix we feed the goats,llamas and alpacas and it helps with the internal pests too by drying out their exoskeletons. Then off to the garden it goes to get rid of pests there. Great stuff!!

Paula said...

There are two kinds of DE- food grade and the stuff for swimming pools. I've always read buy the food grade.

Somebody might be wondering why would there be food grade...they put it in with grain to keep the bugs out of it!

By the way, I would like to be as spoiled as one of Kim's chickens, but I think I'd fall down in the egg department.

Negerigeletschtempoit said...

It is always great to learn new things. I had never heard of Diatomaceous Earth before. I will keep it in mind for the future.
Thank you so much.

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