DE for Birds, and More About Chickens
I’ve written about using Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth around plants to keep down ants and other sectioned insects. It is also used around the feet of my bee hives; as long as it isn’t where bees and other beneficials go it won’t hurt them because it has to be on the bug to work. I’ve also used FGDE around my cat’s bedding to kill hatching flea eggs, and have rubbed it into their fur. It is scentless, edible (will help kill interior parasites when eaten), tasteless, and the food grade is so fine that it won’t hurt your lungs if you breathe it in, although if you have lung conditions you should wear a mask. More about FGDE in a minute.
Some of our laying hens have difficulty laying eggs recently. Chickpea we found panting on the ground in a wet spot, with ants on her. She had a soft-shelled egg break inside of her.
Madge, our partially blind RIR passed a soft shelled egg, then was ill for a day when she passed a broken shell. Warm Epsom salts baths and time spent in the house cage with a heating pad helped both of them. Because of the threat of infection I used some of the Cephalexin left over from our dog (divided into small doses) on both of them and they recovered. My daughter finally deduced that in the mornings when the pullets and hens were released the big girls ran over to eat the chick mash. It probably tastes better than the lay pellets, and more importantly in their little brains it kept the pullets from eating it. Even with the supplemental oyster shell the big girls were probably not getting the calcium and other nutrition their bodies needed to make good eggs. It was time to switch the small girls to lay mash anyway, so I did and yesterday we had all four of our laying hens lay eggs… first time in a long time!
While we were bathing Madge in the sink for her illness, my daughter noticed mites on her. Now a few mites are usual on everyone and everything. When you can see several on the skin when you blow on the feathers, then you have a problem. She wasn’t having a problem, but at that time we still didn’t know what was wrong with her. After she was better we instituted FGDE Day in the Fowl Fortress.
You can buy pricey powder dispensers, which usually clog. I bought a set of mustard and ketchup dispensers for less than two dollars and they work just fine. We caught all the hens and our three quail and puffed FGDE into their feathers and, of course, all over ourselves.
I puffed it into the nesting boxes, and into the ‘attic’ of the pullet house where they roost, and into the straw in the coops. Since we don’t have a problem we don’t need to treat often, just every few months or so. Any that they eat helps with any internal parasites as well. We also had some wood ash left over from making pizzas in Harry Mud the cob oven and sprinkled them where the birds take dust baths. That fine ash helps to keep their feathers clean and keep away mites too.
Very little went a long way, so even after treating all the hens and the Fowl Fortress, the cat bedding repeatedly, several cats, the feet of the bee hives, a variety of plants, and the feet of the food tables I’d set up for a garden party to protect from ants, along my window sills and around the privy where ants were getting in, I’m still working on the first bag that I bought on Amazon.com.
When you compare with buying expensive different poisons for all of these problems, the health hazards and impact on non-target species including ourselves, and the negative impact on the Earth, one bag of FGDE is such a deal that you really can’t not try it.