Ironically, a chicken dust bath is an essential tool in caring for your chickens. They keep clean by having a dust bath. That is, they scratch up some dry sand or dirt and then lie in it and ruffle up their feathers until they are saturated in sand and dirt. Then they stand-up, have a good shake, and presto, they are "clean".
Dust baths serve several purposes for chickens. They can remove excess oil from their feathers. Dusting is also a method allowing chickens to cool off when it's hot out. Normally, there would be a slight depression in the bath - so they could lay down in it, and cover themselves with dust and cool off slightly. However, the most important function is to remove parasites, like lice and mites, so that the chicken's body and skin are protected.
A dust bath should be provided in every chicken pen, especially if you don't have a dry patch inside your poultry run.
If you do have to provide a chicken dust bath, it should be a small shallow box that is easy for them to climb into. The dust box should be large enough to allow your chickens to lie in, spread their wings, and flick the dust into the air so that it can cover its whole body.
You would put in sand, ashes, dirt, and a little insecticide (if you want). You can cover this with a shade during summer. You want to keep it dry, and have a cover that you can take on and off while it's in the winter months. You might keep part of it moist during the summer months.
These are the essential basics you need to understand about having a chicken dust bath to keep your flock healthy and happy.
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