Raising chickens is a hobby that offers a whole range of benefits. If you have the yard space for а chicken coop, and you like the idea of getting your own organic eggs and fresh poultry products, as well as naturally fertilising your own garden with chicken manure, then there’s no doubt this kind of hobby is made for you.
If you think about it, chickens also contribute to the environment given that they’re a natural insecticide. So, regardless of what pests could be troubling you, be it grasshoppers, beetles, or larvae, the chickens can take care of the problem for you. You won’t have to resort to anything toxic to protect your flower or vegetable garden.
On the plus side, these birds can help you get rid of pesky weeds, till and make way for new crops, and eat yard waste like leaf and grass clippings, as much as food scraps. What this means is you don’t have to contribute as much as before to filling up those already-full landfills with waste.
Do Your Part in Chicken Care
Still, in order to benefit from all of this, you need to provide your lovely chickens with some TLC as well as the needed food and water supply, besides protection in the form of a steel chicken coop. Speaking of which, one crucial chore as an owner of a coop is maintaining its cleanliness and hygiene at an all-time high.
Poor hygiene means exposing your lovely flock to all sorts of germs and illnesses, which could make them sick and you, in return, from dealing with an infested coop. And it shouldn’t be all too complicated to carry on with this chore properly, considering counting on something as simple as diatomaceous earth powder can work wonders for cleanliness.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Also known as DE, it’s a natural substance and not a chemical one, despite what the name may sound like. It’s made up of the remains of fossils of aquatic algae called diatoms, which are microscopic. Containing silica (specifically amorphous silicon), they can be found in rivers and streams which is where this earth is mined from and grounded into a powder.
The way this special diatomaceous earth powder can help your hens is by getting rid of worms, mites, and lice. It works as a kind of pesticide that can help prevent or eradicate these pests, but unlike other forms of pesticides, it does this by dehydrating them and not poisoning them, so there’s no risk of them ever developing resistance to it – or it is harmful to you or your hens, for that matter.
However, to reap all the benefits, read the labels and choose fine quality diatomaceous earth food grade that’s preferably mined locally and has no filers. It’s also important to pick out a package with more amorphous content than crystalline which should be about 2% or even less if you’re worried about breathing in the dust and exposing yourself to the risk of lung cancer.
How Do I Use Diatomaceous Earth for Chickens?
When it comes to the ways you can implement the benefits of diatomaceous powder for your flock, there are both external and internal options. So, you have the chance to pick out what works best for you, and the problem you’re trying to prevent or handle.
In the case of external uses, you can use the diatomaceous earth powder for dust bathing having in mind chickens love these kinds of baths. Designate an area, like a sandpit, and fill it with a bit of the DE for the hens to enjoy and get natural protection against pests. If you’re already dealing with an infestation, however, you’re going to have to apply the powder directly to the chickens for optimal results.
To guarantee both your and your chickens’ safety, use some clothes for coverage of the airways. You can use a face mask or a shawl for yourself, and a cloth to loosely cover the chicken’s head while holding it under your arm and applying the powder. Avoid doing so in an enclosed area, and avoid breezes to prevent the dust from flying around.
With the flock out of the coop, you can add the DE powder in tricky areas such as crevices, cracks, and corners, where the mites and lice are likely to live. Nesting boxes and roosting bars may also be problematic, so pay attention to them.
As for adding the powder to the food, which can help with making the chickens heavier and more likely to lay larger eggs, the best is to sprinkle a bit of it and mix it with the feed. The recommended amount is no more than 5% of the total amount of food, which to be more specific could turn into about four to five cups of feed and ¼ of DE powder.