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Chicken Dust Baths in Winter

January 11th, 2011 · 6 Comments ·

We looked out one recent morning to see Esmeralda and Marigold buried up to their necks in the cold frame, right behind the last of the arugula.

Esmeralda. Marigold wouldn’t stay for the photo…

It was a very cute little scene, but also an essential reminder for the urban chicken farmer.  In the dripping Seattle winter, there is not much dry dirt to be found.  Where is a girl chicken to bathe?  Chickens need dust baths to keep their skin healthy–fluffing in dry soil helps to release essential oils in the skin, and prevent nasty ectoparasites.  They also just seem to enjoy it, finding a calm comfort in excavating and inhabiting their earthen holes.  In this wet/snowy weather, let’s all remember to keep some outdoor covered space for the chickens where the dirt will stay dry and loose.  A propped-open cold frame is perfect, as my girls taught me, and I’m also keeping the space under the coop open and available to them.

Wishing a peaceful winter, warm baths, and healthy skin to all–feathered and not.

chickens, seasons

6 Comments so far ↓

  • k8

    I suspect my son would also prefer this method of bathing.

  • Lee

    What a great idea! We have 2 cold frames..i’ll get some dirt for them..we also let the girls play under the coop…which by the way, your design inspired ours!

  • jeni e.

    I started backyard chicken farming about three years ago, it has had it ups and downs. Predators killed most of the flock, foxes, opposums, and racoons were the worst. I have no problems with foxes, their habitat has been taken away, now there are none. Once the last of the roosters were killed, and trust me I really thought I had a predator-free coop(s). It only takes one little opening and then poof-they are gone. I was heart broken to have lost all my flock and really wanted to just give up, but having chickens was something I really connected to nature with-I love them, they were my friends-so I got more and it has been almost seven months since any incounters with predators. For the first time a clutch hatched out (nine) there are two mamas and they share the joy of raising the chicks. I am so pleased and they are a joy again in my life. The peep-peeps in the early morning remind me that backyard chicken farming is worth all the effort. :)

  • jeni e.

    Oh, I forgot to tell everyone-the new flock are bantams. Two of the roosters have fluffy feet and five of the chicks have fluff on their feet…too cute. It is amazing how two hens will share a clutch and I love how the chicks nuzzle into their feathers for warmth-mamahood at its best. :)

    • lyanda

      Hi Jeni. Thanks for sharing your story–it’s true, urban coops need to be super-secure. Glad your chicken-keeping still makes you happy–good luck with the new banties! They sound so cute.

  • popcorn

    I love your post about clotheslines.
    It’s a very under-rated green thing to do!
    And so soothing to watch clothes dry in the wind!

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