Why Chickens Dustbathe

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Chickens dustbathe to keep their feathers clean.


Chickens dustbathe mainly to clean their feathers.  Yes, dust sounds dirty, but it is the way chickens keep themselves clean.  Birds that don’t have access to a dust bath can get mites–dustbathing helps to prevent your chicken from getting infested.

Even if you supply your chickens with a nice sandy dust bath, they’ll prefer to dig their own.  Our chickens dug one several feet deep under a tree.  The dirt there stays dry all year because the tree keeps off the rain.  Also, chickens prefer a dry dirt dust bath to one made of sand.  They generally want their dust bath under the cover of a tree or roof–it makes them feel safer.

Chickens dustbathe by sitting down in a patch of dirt, digging a hole, and then rolling around in it while ruffling their feathers.  They like to dust bathe for a long time–sometimes for over an hour!  Mother hens teach their chicks to dustbathe when they are extremely young.  Dustbathing is an important part of a chicken’s life.

Below: How chickens dustbathe–demonstrated by Flinty, an Auracana hen.DSC01457 DSC01463

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Chickens’ Favorite Treats

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Chickens are omnivores, and will eat almost anything—from dead mice to berries.  Our chickens’ favorite treat is pieces of cheese.  They also like grapes and scratch.  Chickens can have almost any table scrap, except chocolate or poultry.  Don’t feed your chickens raw eggs or they will develop a nasty egg-eating habit in which they crack open and eat their own eggs.  Once a chicken is an egg-eater, it is impossible to stop it.  However, cooked eggs have a different taste and can be beneficial to chickens’ diets.

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Chickens are omnivores.


Chickens also like rolled oats, various cereals, and spaghetti.  If you want to, you can buy mealworms or prepackaged chicken treats.  Chickens will also eat birdseed.  Bread is also a good chicken treat.  But don’t feed too much of it.  Don’t feed your birds bread if you have ducks.  Ducks get severely fat when they eat it.

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 Chickens will come running for treats.


Feed treats in little bits, and don’t make them as your chickens’ main diet.  Too many treats can make your chickens too fat or upset the nutrient balance in their diet.  But still, chickens really enjoy them.  A chicken will be your friend if your feed it treats.  Chickens like treats more than being petted.  Also, treats are good for teaching your chickens tricks.

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You CAN train your chicken!


Regardless of what people say, you can train your chicken.  A really easy trick to train them is to come when called.  Come up with a sound you will use to call them.  Then find somewhere where no chickens can see you.  After that, set an extremely tasty treat on the ground in front of you and make the sound.  Repeat several times over the course of a few days. But don’t call the chickens when you don’t have a treat for them too often, or they will stop coming.  This is a great tool for getting chickens out of the neighbors’ yard without anyone noticing.

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 Chickens LOVE treats.


–BigThingsCoop


Chicks Year After Year

This year’s batch of chicks is larger than most: five.  Usually, to keep the coop from getting too crowded, we usually get two or three.  We do not eat our chickens, so we count on them living a long time.  Below are chicks from the past few years.  You can see how much they grow in just a short time!


Dusty and Big Spot:


Owly and Dragon the First:

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Dragon, Rain and Panther (Elfy and Blackbeak are not in the photo).

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