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Dust bath

 
Posts: 163
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
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Ok to use pressure treated?  Or will the chickens peck at it too much?

I don't have a great spot for one where it would reliably stay dry.  I've heard that if DE gets wet it doesn't work well for mite control.  Is DE something that we can just add 2-3 times a year and just add it to the dust bath when we're likely to get a few days of dry weather.
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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DE doesn't do anything when it gets wet but when it dries back out it works again, this is because food grade DE is so fine a powder and it is the sharp cutting edges on the diatom that do the damage to insects.

Our chickens have several dust bathing areas they created themselves and one is right under their raised floor coop, it always stays dry there, even in the torrential downpours we have been having lately.
I sprinkle DE into these dust bath areas heavily during the summers and about every two weeks during that time.
In total over the last three years I've used around 5 lbs. of food grade DE for the chicken house, dust baths and on the hogs (1 dusting).


I've never had chickens peck at the wood of their coop but I also try hard to never use treated wood of any sort unless it has to be used for longevity of the building. (4x4 posts buried 3-4 feet deep in most cases)
I like to use borax soap for termites and carpenter ants, it works very well for us. (sprinkle around all posts and down into the post holes as you are filling them up)

Non treated wood that is in ground contact on our farm lasts approximately two years before it has so much fungi eating at it that it starts falling apart.
 
Posts: 538
Location: Middle Georgia
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:Ok to use pressure treated?  Or will the chickens peck at it too much?

I don't have a great spot for one where it would reliably stay dry.  I've heard that if DE gets wet it doesn't work well for mite control.  Is DE something that we can just add 2-3 times a year and just add it to the dust bath when we're likely to get a few days of dry weather.



Not sure what you are saying. Do you mean you want to make a "dust bath" out of wood?

Most of the time the birds just pick a bare patch of soil that gets some sun and use that (changing the area occasionally). You could build them one but they may ignore it and find their own spots, if you see them using a specific spot you could always sprinkle some DE on it and hope they keep using it.

Regarding wood, from  my experience the birds don't peck at wood unless they are small insects or something that they want, but I have never seen mine do that.
 
pollinator
Posts: 285
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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I don't use DE for dust bathing or in the coop at all.   I have 11 girls on half acre of assorted areas of vegetation, grass, weeds, leaf mold and wood chips.  My first year I made a couple boxes under shelter that they wouldn't use.   Chickens are like cats, no matter how many fancy accommodations you provide they'll find some other least likely place to enjoy their life, lol!   I've observed that they prefer a spot with friable soil or 3rd year woodchips with friable composted soil underneath.  Although I have also seen them in a clay area under the blackberry bushes in late summer when it's quite dry and scratch-uppable.    They seem to like doing it with their pals, and preferably with shelter at their back but sunny in front - so my girls' favorite spot is in front of a giant cedar tree facing the western sun as they usually congregate there in the afternoon.   I wonder if the thick bed of cedar mulch (leaves)  is what keeps them bug free.  

Andrew perhaps you could add a canvas canopy over the box like a kiddie sandbox.   As for pecking, like Lucrecia, I never see my girls peck at wood other than for termites and other bugs.   I suppose chickens who are malnourished might try to eat rotted wood or sawdust.

And for your amusement - I just watched this gal spend about 20 minutes turning and flipping around in this almost empty flower pot next to the shed door (high traffic area).   It was hilarious because she has so many other choices but we had a lot of rain this week so I guess this was the driest spot she could find.
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Susan Pruitt
pollinator
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Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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Bryant I just remembered to ask about your use of borax in the yard.   Is that safe for chickens?   I use borax & sugar in the house to kill big black waterbugs  (working on damp areas around the house).   I find roaches half dead lying on their backs and have debated whether to feed them to the chickens.   I'm sure it's just a trace amount of borax in each roach's system.....?
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:

Not sure what you are saying. Do you mean you want to make a "dust bath" out of wood?



No, I'd use wood to make a frame that would contain the dust for the dust bath.

The chickens do make their own dust baths.  Sometimes in places we'd rather they didn't.  Also, a dedicated dust bath that we provide them allow us to more easily use things like DE to help control mites.  I haven't noticed any problems with mites, but it's usually better to set them up with a way to prevent problems than treat them after the problem becomes apparent.

Since it's my thread, and I'll veer it if I want to...

Our ladies eat slugs.  I'd always heard chickens don't eat slugs and if you want to get rid of slugs you need to get ducks.  Well, that most definitely is not true in my experience.  Since they have more or less eliminated the slugs on my property (at least within their zone of typical free-ranging) do I need to deworm the girls?  DW thinks we should.  I'm not opposed to it if it's necessary, but they seem to be healthy and laying well, considering the low light of winter.  If deworming is called for what would be right kind of dewormer to use?
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Location: Middle Georgia
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:
Since it's my thread, and I'll veer it if I want to...

Our ladies eat slugs.  I'd always heard chickens don't eat slugs and if you want to get rid of slugs you need to get ducks.  Well, that most definitely is not true in my experience.  Since they have more or less eliminated the slugs on my property (at least within their zone of typical free-ranging) do I need to deworm the girls?  DW thinks we should.  I'm not opposed to it if it's necessary, but they seem to be healthy and laying well, considering the low light of winter.  If deworming is called for what would be right kind of dewormer to use?



I think it is pretty rare in backyard flocks especially with mature birds and pumping them full of "remedies" whether natural (like DE or vinegar) or man-made is not something I want to do unless I know there is actually a problem. But if I actually thought they DID have gapeworm  I would likely treat with Albendazole/Valbazen (instead of trying natural remedies) since it can be fatal.

Here is a thread on it with more info: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/best-treatment-for-gapeworm.820569/
 
Posts: 244
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Susan Pruitt wrote:Bryant I just remembered to ask about your use of borax in the yard.   Is that safe for chickens?    




Borax and boric acid [pretty much the same thing] are pretty good at repelling, killing insects, ants especially. It also kills fungus, so don't put it near your mushroom logs!
I have a silly question: Why would you use it around chickens and deprive them of a good meal? Do you suspect chicken lice? DE is better for that. Borax could irritate their skin, I'd fear. I would be worried mostly if they found a poorly dissolved clump of the stuff and started chowing on it.
This said, I use borax around my beehives to kill sugar ants. But you have to be careful: Bees ingesting the stuff will kill them. What I do is late in the evening, after my girls are back in the hive for the night, I concoct a drench of water and Borax. 1-2 c of Borax to one gallon of water. I drench heavy all around the hive and as far under it as I can. We have sandy soil, so the drench does not stay on top. Bees have no reason to go under their hive anyway. It is quite effective and if you have quite an infestation, you can repeat the application. I also put some solid Borax [Just a sprinkle] in the bottom of the hive, under the varroa mesh. The bees cannot get to it, but ants can slip in the joints. When I clean the hive, I can see their dead bodies. After a week or so, no more ants! Yipee!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 5738
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Susan; none of the borax used during planting of the posts for the coop have any on the surface (and once it gets wet it soaks into the soil anyway).

Cecile; Borax is boron in a basic form, Boric acid is the acidic form of boron, both are poisonous to any animal that ingests it.
As I mentioned above, I don't let it lay on the surface of any construction where animals are going to be, just in the holes where termites might attack the sub surface wood.
My reason for using borax is to prevent things like the chicken house from being destroyed by termites from the ground up and since we have raised chicken houses to give them an area under the house that will always be dry, I really don't want the house to fall down at any time.

The best (and safest) wood treatment is to dissolve borax soap in water and soak the lumber in this solution for at least 12 hours, then let it dry. This treatment will keep termites and fungi from eating the wood for several years, so it is a good alternative to using "green, store bought treated wood".
On organic farms borax treatment is very preferable to using any other type of treated wood since it doesn't contain but one harsh chemical instead of three to five.
 
Posts: 54
Location: Alekovo near Svishtov, Bulgaria
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We have a small flock of Light Sussex chickens and ex-battery hens, Indian Runner ducks and Saddleback geese - we are still novices having only had livestock for the past 3.5 years.

Andrew Mayflower wrote:The chickens do make their own dust baths.  Sometimes in places we'd rather they didn't.



I can appreciate the desire to provide dust baths if your birds are restricted to a particular area.  We tried providing a dust bath/box early on with wood ash and DE etc. etc. and never saw them use it - as they free range from dawn until dusk they "bathe" themselves wherever they want... it appears that their favourite places are our pig shelters when they are not in use, where they scratch the layer of straw and wood chips down to super fine, dry soil underneath that probably contains pig skin cells, various flakes of other stuff that has come off the pigs skin, etc.  That experience reinforced our desire to let our critters do what they might do naturally. Our ex-battery hens are a good example - despite living their first 12 months in an egg factory, after 3-4 months of spring/early summer free ranging with no daily feeding from us, their coats/feathers/skin/feet all became terrific and their natural habits have developed too.


Andrew Mayflower wrote:Also, a dedicated dust bath that we provide them allow us to more easily use things like DE to help control mites.  I haven't noticed any problems with mites, but it's usually better to set them up with a way to prevent problems than treat them after the problem becomes apparent.



We use animal grade DE (food grade is more expensive and it is not produced or retailed here in Bulgaria so we have to import it) in our home-mixed worming treatment for all our critters (chooks, ducks, geese, sheep, pigs, dogs) and we also routinely (every couple of months for the dogs, and during the "bug season" for the birds) give them a dust bath by hand - pretty much the only time we handle the birds unless there is an obvious issue. Our bird accommodation is deep littered straw and we do sprinkle a good dose over it everytime we add fresh straw.  When we do clear out the deep litter, and after scrubbing out and letting it dry, we liberally dust the inside of the wooden chicken coop and goose house, and dust any wooden things in the large duck house which is mud brick on 3 sides.

Andrew Mayflower wrote:Our ladies eat slugs.  I'd always heard chickens don't eat slugs and if you want to get rid of slugs you need to get ducks.  Well, that most definitely is not true in my experience.  Since they have more or less eliminated the slugs on my property (at least within their zone of typical free-ranging) do I need to deworm the girls?  DW thinks we should.  I'm not opposed to it if it's necessary, but they seem to be healthy and laying well, considering the low light of winter.  If deworming is called for what would be right kind of dewormer to use?



Perhaps because we rarely - if ever - put down any hard feed for our birds between April and October, we have seen the meat eating/catching habits of our chickens and ducks very regularly.  We have slug traps in our garden and fodder field which get emptied out for the ducks and chooks to fight over, the ducks regular catch frogs and toads during the season and we have seen the chickens eating mice and baby rats too.

Much as I prefer to leave all our critters to do their thing and we do not inoculate or vaccinate them, and only resort to pharmaceutical treatment in serious cases, we do worm all our critters on a monthly basis, all with exactly the same mixture: garlic powder, turmeric, tobacco and DE.  For the birds we mix this concoction with "wet" treats like chopped up tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, soft fruit and the like when they are getting plenty of fresh produce.  In winter we dampen their grain feed, add the worming mix and stir it in, then let it dry out overnight.  We also - in the season - grind our pumpkin seeds to powder and use that as an alternative natural anthelmintic for the critters and even ourselves as a general preventative.

PS: Never seen the chooks eating wood as is, but often seenthem pecking at any wood (or anything else) around the place where there are bugs, insects, wormy creatures, etc. actually in the wood.

Good luck!!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Bryant RedHawk wrote: Susan;
Cecile; Borax is boron in a basic form, Boric acid is the acidic form of boron, both are poisonous to any animal that ingests it.
As I mentioned above, I don't let it lay on the surface of any construction where animals are going to be, just in the holes where termites might attack the sub surface wood.



Yes, we agree. In Wisconsin, we don't have termites, [although we have wood boring ants/ carpenter ants]. Sugar ants stay away from the soil after it is drenched, once a year, before I install the hives. The bees do not land under their hives, and if they did, the Borax is long gone under. But, Yes, it is dangerous stuff and folks have to be careful!
 
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