I have been raising chickens for over five years and have worked with many breeds of poultry.
Chickens Love Taking Baths
Keeping chickens in your backyard is fun! They are one of the most maintenance-free pets. Their daily requirements mainly consist of feeding and watering. And if you do this they give you a reward, an egg!
But to keep your chickens healthy and happy they sometimes require maintenance. If you free-range your flock you have probably seen them on the ground flopping around, pecking at the dirt, and then wallering in it. They are trying to cover their feathers with the dirt. This helps to keep them free of lice and mites on their bodies and also helps to keep them cool in the summertime.
For people who do not free-range, I have seen them supply a sandbox or something in the chicken coop with dry dirt and Sevin Dust or Dietimatious Earth (DE) for the chickens to use to take a bath.
When Is It Time to Help Out?
Even with all the self-bathing that chickens do, at times they need help from their owners. Some reasons why mites and lice show up are overcrowding, not cleaning your coop often enough, not changing out the nest box bedding, bringing in new chickens from an outside source, etc. There is a multitude of reasons why it could happen but when you discover the first signs of the little bugs, it is time to take action.
Healthy, Happy Chickens
With routine maintenance of your chicken coop and flock, it is easy to keep healthy, happy chickens. Choose a certain day of the month, I chose the first week of each month, to check for parasites and also to clean out the nest boxes and coop. It makes it easy to remember when the last time you checked.
How to Dust Your Chickens
Once the evidence has appeared on your chickens it is time for you to take action and dust the chickens. And that means all of them. Because if one chicken has it then it is likely all of them have been infected with the eggs even if there is no sign.
I normally treat my poultry in the evening after they have gone to rest. You normally do not get much fight from them at that time. I use 5% Sevin Dust (sold in the garden sections of stores) and put about 1 cup of it in a shaker can (like an old parmesan cheese container) or if you do not have a shaker you can use the toe of an old pair of pantyhose and pour about 1/2 cup in it.
It's best if you have a helper to hold the chicken but it can be done alone. Wear old clothes and a dust mask or at least a bandana over your nose/mouth; the dust will be flying. Hold the chicken by the legs and sprinkle the dust up under the feathers on the neck, back, legs, breast, and on the bottom around the vent area, and under each wing. Then fluff it through their feathers with your hand to get it close to their skin. Those are the places the mites like best. The chicken will help to spread the dust to the rest of the body by ruffling its feathers.
After I dust all of the chickens I also change out the nesting box bedding and coat them and the floor of the coop. My chicken coop happens to have a sand floor so I go around all the edges and coat the cracks and corners. Please note that before starting this procedure I had cleaned the coop of excess manure.
To keep the hens laying eggs on a consistent basis, your flock has to be healthy. And with a maintenance routine as suggested above, it will help you to have a steady supply of eggs.
For your preview are some photos of a few members of my current flock. I buy and sell chickens on a frequent basis so I am constantly adding new breeds to my flock. At the moment I have Buff Orpingtons, Ameracaunas, Black Sex Links, Rhode Island Reds, Silver-laced Wyandotte, Blue Rock, Barred Rocks, and several cross breeds.
If you are new to raising chickens or are considering starting your own flock, I recommend you learn more about chickens and their requirements before bringing home your new chickens. There are many benefits to raising chickens with the most obvious being the eggs and meat that they can supply to a family. But they do have requirements and the more you learn in advance the better prepared you will be when starting your backyard flock of chickens.
Chickens are easy to raise and require little maintenance. They are entertaining to watch and educational for children, as well as, adults who have never been around farm animals. If you do your research you will find most people will tell you that is a very addicting hobby. Once you bring home a few then you just want to get more and more and more!
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Katherine Graham on June 04, 2020:
Can you use Eight dust on chickens and the coop?
Daniel O'Keefe on May 02, 2018:
Sevin has been removed from approved products for hens. Lifetime egg withrawal. Your post was updated 6 April 2018. This change about Sevin, Carbaryl, was made last year. Which means people who use Sevin, can't sell this eggs right? Maybe you should mention that
AnnieSantiago13 on October 22, 2014:
Once you have dusted your chickens with Sevin, are the eggs safe to eat or do you wait some time?
Emily on August 11, 2012:
Do you happen to have a lot of dragonflies that your chickens could be eating? I have found out about a parasite(a fluke actually) that is carried by dragonflies. I had the same problem with my flock of hens. I even had a necropsy done on one, and the vet said she had an ovarian infection. Weird that all my chickens were getting the same thing, so I did a LOT of research and discovered this fluke that dragonflies carry. My chickens eat dragonflies all the time. I talked to the vet and she said that's probably what it is. No proof, but I am almost positive. This has happened to three separate flocks of mine. All started laying well, but ended up laying shell-less eggs and developing this infection. Hope this is helpful.
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Shannon on February 25, 2012:
Sevin dust IS highly toxic! It is an organophosphate, and is one of the most toxic posiions available. You should never use it on live animals!
Just use a pyrethrin product. This is much safer, and is not metabolized by humans.
jadeeum from Ontario, Canada on November 19, 2011:
This article was very informative. Thank you.
Sorry for the following long question!!
I have 6 chickens (2 Sussex and a Buff that are 3 years old, and 2 Ameracaunas and 1 Silver lace that are one year old). My partner was looking after them for the first 2 years but their living conditions esp in the winter were pretty poor, but they got to free-range most days. I took over this past spring and started cleaning the coop regularly and added a run. Also bought 6 new hens. But sadly 3 of them died over the summer, all same symptoms, listlessness, loss of appetite and weightloss. They were each separated at first sign of illness, given warm baths and hot water bottle under the bedding, extra warmth etc. Could not see lice or any other obvious issues. I was told by the seller the young hens were probably egg bound. There have been no losses since August but all the chickens have gradually stopped laying. In October I built them a bigger new coop and run that is easier to clean out and is much better ventilated. Worried about mites, I've been sprinkling the hens with diatimaceous earth and using it on the floor, nest boxes as well as in their sand box before I replace their bedding (shavings). They free roam most days. Still no eggs! Thankfully they all seem to be healthy but it is a complete mystery as to why they are not laying. Could it be a permanent problem? It's been at least 6 weeks since the last hen laid an egg but the lack of production started about 3 months ago. My neighbour (also a chicken lover) said it's probably the coming of winter, the new coop, the fact there has been a lot of construction activity in the last few months and I should not worry. But of course I AM WORRYING! Any advice welcome. I would love to get more hens, but I dare not until these ones are well and laying again.
Cory on June 03, 2011:
All the information has been a lot of help, I breed Labs, so the chickens is an all new deal for me. A friend gave me two hens the other day, so I am starting off. I want to build a coop, but don't have a lot to spend. I have things around like 1/4 inch 4x8 sheets of ply wood, two of them, 20 2x4x48 studs from building something else, some welded wire, a brick of wood chips, and the nails, scroos etc. I have some half logs, I thought about using for a purch, or what ever, they are left over from making a log from one of the storms, into a log bench. I have them in a large 48x36x36 dog crate for the time being, as I want to make sure they have someware safe from the dogs, cats, etc. Any help would be outstanding. Please E-mail me your ideas. email@example.com
grannygrunt on April 16, 2011:
My Dad raised chickens, and at 58, I have my first chickens. I can't figure out what breed they are. I thought Brahma, but all the chick pictures look a lot darker than my chicks did. Mine were a beautiful pale yellow and now have dark wing tips. They also have feathers down their legs. I have three Barred Rock and they like to peck me , but my three light birds are very nice.
kaye on February 13, 2011:
how often do you need to use the sevin? also, does it hurt my rooster not to have a mate?
kaye on February 12, 2011:
Your site was very helpful. Also were the links.
Loretta Sewak on February 05, 2011:
I am a city chick thinking about raising 3 chicks. I am concerned about smell, disease carrying flies and Avian flu. What are your feelings on these issues. Obviously you're doing a great job raising yours.
Thanks in advance,
Alyssa on November 21, 2010:
Finding this site was a blessing! I discovered red mites and was panic stricken. Your information was so very helpful. And your chickens are beautiful. Great pictures!
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on May 23, 2009:
Okay, Cd. I'll remember that if I ever sneak those chickens in around here.
Cdejarnatt (author) from NE Florida on May 22, 2009:
Sevin Dust in safe to use and does not harm the chickens. There are different grades of sevin dust 5% and 10%. I also use the same dust on my dogs to help with fleas. Works great!
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on May 22, 2009:
Cd, some beautiful chickens, the 1st rooster was so handsome. I've got a yen to keep chickens but not living in the country, just reading up. (Nobody will notice if I have 3).
Isn't Sevin poison? Or is it a special type made for chickens?