This morning I dropped the kids off at school and came home to find two of the four
chickens had escaped their coop/run yet again. It appears that we need to clip their wings again so the little escape artists can't get out as easily. Once they're out, they're out. They usually will not just walk back into their coop without persuading. That means, they get to stay out until I find some food or scraps to toss in their run to get them to agree to go back. I'm rarely in the mood to re-enact the Rocky scene of chasing chickens around for hours trying to prove who's the fastest, and since I have no plans to fight Apollo Creed, then I don't see the point.
(Next time they escape, I'm totally putting on a sweatsuit and a red headband......Yo Adrian!)
Anyway, I get home, look out the window and I see Red buried down in the little patch of dirt that runs along our back window. She spots me getting closer to the window and I can see it in her eyes........."I wouldn't be digging a hole out here if you would get your act together and build me a REAL dust bath". FINE red, I'll move it up the list of priorities.
For those of you who are pretty new to chickens, a dust bath is way for the chickens to keep themselves clean and help them cool off a little in the heat. The fine sand or dust keeps their feathers nice and clean and free of mites and lice. You can use different sorts of materials for the birds to bathe in and I've read that people often use dirt or sand and mix in wood ash from the fireplace, diatomaceous earth (food grade), and/or dried herbs.
The wood ash is good for the chickens to nibble on because the charcoal acts as a laxative and rids their bodies of any toxins or internal parasites.
The diatomaceous earth kills mites, fleas, ticks, and lice. Take precaution when using the diatomaceous earth because it comes as a fine powder that can easily blow in the wind and it can cause irritation to the lungs or eyes, so you may consider adding a small amount to the dirt and mixing it in or putting a layer of dirt on top of the DE.
Use dried herbs in the dust bath to act as natural insecticides. Herbs such as mint, rosemary, and lavender are all good choices. I've read that dried thyme and rosemary have good anti-inflammatory properties which would be beneficial for respiratory illnesses.
So now that I have just enough information to be dangerous, lets get this project moved up the list so the poor little darlings have a nice place for bathing.
Sometimes I think our animals have it better than I do...........