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Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:30 pm
by dianefairhall
I realise that normally the hens would make their own, but the family that had this house before us put weed-proof matting all over the front garden. Great! No thistles or other nasty weeds but of course the hens can't scratch. Neither can the cats so they go in the back garden. I have seen things that look like a cat litter tray advertised as suitable for dust baths. How would I proceed?

Re: Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:38 pm
by dinosaw
Get a hold of some regular garden soil, put it in the litter tray, let it dry out, pound it up so it is reasonably fine. That's about it really. Whether they will use it is another matter entirely, can never tell with chicken can you.

Re: Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:17 pm
by Marigold
Whatever container you use, it needs to be at least 40 cms deep and deeper is better. This is so they can get in it, roll around, scratch dust over their feathers, then stand up and shake their feathers to get the dust out. It’s not called a bath for nothing! You will need a good 15cms of sand or earth in the bottom, plus 25+ cms for the sides above the sand. If you use a shallower litter tray it may tip over when they stand on the edge, and in any case if it’s not deep enough a lot of the dust will be lost over the edges when they scratch and shake, and you will be always refilling it. I have the upturned base from a large plastic water butt, but any large deep box will do. Plastic is OK if deep enough as the weight if the sand or earth will stabilise it. It’s nice for them if the edge is thick enough to perch on, but if it isn’t you can fix a perch made from wood across the edge for them to hop up on to. I don’t think a litter tray is deep enough to do the job. Or you could perhaps make something like a deep sandpit with wooden sides, and then you could make it big enough for a communal bath, which they will love.

Re: Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:48 pm
by dianefairhall
Thank you both, you have given me a few ideas there. You can get quite large litter trays these days but we had some raised beds made just before lockdown which never got filled up, I might use one of those.

Re: Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:40 pm
by Tweetypie
Hi Diane. If you have a used car tyre, you could fill that with nice soil. I made my girls one with a big lorry tyre and put children's play sand in it, but as they were used to soil, they didn't like it. Heaven knows what they thought it was.😀

Re: Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:12 pm
by dianefairhall
That's lovely, Tweetypie! No tyre but I've remembered I have a large plastic tub-trug in the shed and I could get some pipe insulation to put over the edge for a perch. Our girls aren't used to anything so I might try the play sand. The problem with soil is that all the rest of our garden is grass and I'd have to dig some up.

Re: Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:59 pm
by Margaid
Small bags of topsoil, like the 60 litre compost bags,are usually available but may be a bit hard to get at the moment.

Re: Making a dust bath for the girls

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:15 pm
by dianefairhall
Would compost do? I have a couple of bags of sheeps' wool compost and that is soil-like.