So last Saturday I was pottering around the garden (side note: I think pottering, as a verb, can only be associated with gardeners) and I saw Henrietta (the brown one, AKA, ‘Freedom Chicken’) wriggling about down in the soil underneath the coop.
What was going on?
Hopefully you’ll forgive me for the clickbaity title, but from a distance, this chicken looked like she was dying. After all, she was lying flat on her side, something which I had never seen her do before. As I was watching, Bridget (‘The Friendly One’) laid down next to her. I went to the coop to have a closer look, and no, they weren’t dead, but they were acting strangely.
After watching them a while and a quick Google, we confirmed that they were having a dust bath.
What is a dust bath?
A dust bath is when chickens roll around in dust or dirt in an effort to clean themselves and remove parasites. It’s similar to other animals bathing in water or wallowing in mud.
Here is Henrietta and Bridget having their bath:
I love how Bluebell just pops her head in this shot like “Hey, what’s going on here?”
After the bath, their feathers looked a little matted, but throughout the day they returned to normal. And just like clockwork, after those two were done, Bluebell and Daphne followed suit.
Typically chickens will just roll about in the mud, but if your coop doesn’t have access to bare soil, it’s necessary to create an artificial dust bath. Usually this just entails getting a cat litter tray and filling it with a mixture of dry compost and sand. Diatomaceous Earth can also be added to get rid of any lice or red mite.
In my case, I thought the ground had to be a lot dryer for this to take place, hence the unnecessary worrying and flapping about on my part. But there you go, the wonders of chickens and their innate methods of survival.
Oh, in more chicken news, we are now getting one egg every single day, and we have Bridget to thank for this! We discovered this on Sunday morning after I went out to check for any eggs (no luck) and then half an hour later went out again to let the flock out into their extended run. I checked again, because, you know, just in case, and there was an egg! During this 30 minutes, Bridget was the only one to stay in the coop, so it must’ve been her!
Typical Bridget, stealing the limelight.