Why Do Chickens Dust Bathe?

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 21 July 2020

For backyard chickens dust bathing is the best way to keep clean

Ever seen your chickens fling themselves about in the dirt, and wonder what on earth they’re doing? Well, they’re dust bathing! Don’t worry - they aren’t dirtying themselves for the fun of it, dust bathing is actually a vital part of a chickens grooming routine!

What does dust bathing involve?

When chickens start to feel a little bit dirty or gritty, they will dig a shallow ditch (in soil, mulch, sand, or other dry, loose materials), in which they will burrow and throw the dirt over themselves. They will do this until the dirt has coated their feathers and is settled down to their skin- where it is believed to absorb excess moisture and oil, and clog the breathing pores of parasites that may have found their way onto your chicken. They will then stand up and shake out all the dirt- so be sure to be standing away from the action, then proceed to preen themselves before getting on with their usual chicken business.

So, why do chickens dust bathe?

Dust bathing is the chickens way of keeping themselves clean (just like we would bathe a dog, or shower ourselves), it just happens to be a more distinct, and quite frankly, odd way of doing so. It also acts as a natural insecticide and helps to keep parasites and other nasty creepy crawlies at bay, so it is important for their health! Dust bathing is also a relaxing and even social pastime for chickens. You will often catch your flock bathing together- squirming and flapping around with glee!

So there you have it - dust bathing is a very important activity for your flock, and whilst it’s hard to believe that flinging oneself around in the dirt actually cleans the hens, it really does!

Make sure your chickens have clean, soft and absorbent hemp bedding in their Taj Mahal, Penthouse or Mansion coops. Just because they like to dust bathe outside, doesn't mean they prefer prefer a dirty coop. Fresh and clean bedding is always best, unless you are going to create a deep little system, which you can read about here.

Find out more information on dust bathing and other grooming and maintenance tips and tricks here.

All chicken keepers need to know the best ways to prevent, identify and treat health issues in their flock. It can be stressful and worrying when things aren't going well with your chooks and we all want to do an eggcellent job when looking after them. From herbal treatments to disease prevention, make sure that you've got the knowledge you need to raise happy, healthy chooks. Did you know 67% of chicken keepers surveyed experienced a chicken health or behaviour issue in the first 12 months that they didn’t know how to handle?

But don’t worry! Our feathered friends over at Chickenpedia have created a Chicken Healthcare Course. It is a comprehensive online course that covers everything you need, including what to look for in an unhealthy chicken and how to support your egg-laying hens to optimal health. All of their courses are really well structured and filled with vital information, which is why I highly recommend them to all of my readers! From raising baby chicks to feeding to behavior, you’ll find valuable information that’ll give you the knowledge and confidence to successfully look after your chickens.

Check out Chickenpedia today and use my discount code (BOKBOK50) to get 50% off! Oh and… I should also mention, as a member, you will also get access to the ALL of their chicken courses!

Sources and further reading