oanne, the fabulous hen, likes to roll around in the dirt from time to time.

What’s that all about?

Chickens need dirt to bath from time to time. It’s essential to good chicken health and is how they control mites and other skin irritants. I watched Joanne regularly scratch out a bowl shape in the dry dirt. Then she sits in it, fluffs up her feathers, rolls and kicks dirt up onto her body.

What Happens In The Winter?

Still I wondered what to do in the winter. Moira Sanders introduced me to Paulene Cusack who runs a hobby farm with a variety of animals and namely chickens.

I asked Paulene what to do in the winter. There were three options.

  1. Do nothing. They’ll be uncomfortable until spring though.
  2. Buy a powder for this purpose and apply.
  3. Set out a tray filled with dirt. This is what Paulene does.

No powder. We want to keep everything natural. Option 3 it is.

I found a large rubber tray (photos below) and filled it with dirt. It’s kept in the garage so the dirt stays dry. Once a week I put the tray in the wheelbarrow and cart it into the backyard. Joanne comes running and jumps right in. She’ll spend 20 to 40 minutes in there. When she’s done, she stands up, shakes off the excess and goes on her way.

Click an photo to enlarge

Joanne the hen takes a dust bath

Chciken Dust Bath

Chicken shakes off dust bath

The Greatest Of Pets

Chickens are the greatest pets. They come pre-programmed and give you eggs. They know what to do and you’ll learn so much by just observing, googling and more recently purchased Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 3rd Edition. Some reviews of the book noted a lack of breeds information that I found not to be true. Perhaps the 3rd edition took care of that. It’s an easy read with lots of illustrations, diagrams and photos.

Local hobby farmers have been the most wonderful source of guidance and ideas.

Everyone should have a chicken in their back yard.

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