Diatomaceous Earth! Diatomaceous Earth or DE is really a miracle worker. What exactly is it? DE consists of fossilized microscopic hard-shelled algae called diatoms. It comes in a very fine powder and can be a real preventative as well as curative for many chicken ailments.
The most important thing when you want to use DE with your chickens is that you purchase FOOD GRADE DE. The great thing about DE is that it gets rid of unwanted pests naturally. It is an organic technique that has been utilized by farmers for quite some time. DE works by a process called desiccation. It's sharp microscopic edges cut into the bugs' outer body skeletons and causes them to dehydrate. DE kills ticks, fleas, mites, digestive worms and keeps pests away from food and out of the coop. It also provides a wide array of trace minerals to your chicken's diet. It is also safe to use in your gardens for natural pest control, great for free ranging flocks.
So how do I use it? Well I sprinkle the DE into the girls' food supply. You can add up to 2% of their diet. They injest the DE. Some folks say that it has deworming properties. The verdict is still out on this one because when DE gets wet, the sharp edges of the algae are believed to be smoothed. However, I still feed it to the girls because they are still getting the valueable trace minerals.
In the newly cleaned coop I sprinkle it into the corners, edges, in the nesting boxes and onto the floor as well as the roosts prior to adding a fresh new layer of bedding. I would imagine if you are utilizing the deep litter method, you could add more DE as you add fresh bedding. As the girls, tidy and rearrange the shaving on the floor, the DE is mixed into the shavings. I do have to say, that I never have had a pest problem inside the coop and we live in the woods with lots of bugs!
As for the girls, I add the DE into the area of the run where their dust bath is located. About once a week, I sprinkle a scoop into the dirt and let the girls frolic in it. I try to do this when the run is dry, because of the theory about wet DE. I want to keep those microscopic edges sharp to kill all those little bugs that can drive chickens crazy. About once a month, I also dust the chickens myself. I dust under their wings, their fluffy bottoms, and their chests.
Now, here was my question. Where can I find this stuff? I have 2 sites that I would trust for the Food Grade DE. I am sure there are more, but their prices are reasonable. The first is www.treatsforchickens.com . They are currently selling a 2 pound organic bag for $13.79. The second site is www.mypetchicken.com. As of today, their sale price is $10.50 for a 1 pound non-organic bag. I ordered from www.treatsforchickens.com about 2 months ago, and still have a little over half the bag left. This product as been a terrific addition to my backyard chicken experience. I love that something easy and natural is so beneficial.