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Why Do Chickens Dust Bathe?

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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.

Sources and further reading

Download our Ultimate Chicken Behavior Handbook