Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Diatomaceous Earth  (Read 595 times)


  • Joined Sep 2020
  • North Yorkshire
Diatomaceous Earth
« on: October 05, 2020, 04:57:36 pm »
Hi there. Iíve been reading about the use of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) as Iíve 25 hens arriving in next couple of weeks but Iím a bit confused. I had thought DE was used to spread in the hens dust bath, however Iím now reading that it should go into their food?  Is this why it has to be food grade? There are lots of products out there and Iím really uncertain about what I should be doing. Your advice gratefully received. Also, does anyone know how much wood ash is meant to be mixed into the DE along with compost for a dust bath? Apart from the wood ash in my wood burner, Iím not sure where to buy this either. Thanks so much. ????


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2020, 05:30:48 pm »
Yes if you get food grade it can be used both internally and externally.  You can get it on eBay and Amazon

I don't use wood ash, the hens find a dry bit and make a dust bath for themselves then I add a handful of diatom every so often.  I don't actually put it in their water but other folk might do.  With 25 hens (that's a lot for a new starter in hens  :innocent: , ) you'll need more than a handful - I just have 4  Good luck.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2020, 07:26:53 am »
We don't use Diatom because of the health risk- it's Silica dust and I read can result in levels 200x over the safe limit inside the coop. Not good if you are in there cleaning out or collecting eggs and I've no idea of the effect on the chickens.

Not sure why you want to use it DF?


  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cattle and sheep!
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2020, 08:45:40 am »
I use it for red mite! I buy the big bucket, food grade off amazon. Wooden pen and the little cretins get in everywhere!  The house was built from scratch using decent treated wood and creosoted!! Then creosote was stopped and replaced with creocote. Useless! In the days when I used creosote (managed to get some off a fencer guy) the house needed 3 days to dry and stop smelling. NOT ONE MITE!! And the blasted stuff lasted. Now, due to the lack of preservatives, I use dark oak Cuprinol and on the outside, the house and run, also treated (8 foot high!!) look pretty!! When you open the door, another matter!

Got new birds this year, painted all. Inside, to make it look pretty, it was treated in white for the next boxes, pale lemon for the roof and the wooden floor, the perch was pink, the droppings shelf is blue as is the ramp up to the shelf (Hen house is 6ft high x 6ft long x 4ft wide built against the shippon). When the chicken guy come with my girls he smiled when I opened the door. "I use that he said!"

Yes, pretty colours with liberal sprinkling of DE on shelf, in crevices, amongst the shavings bed, on the floor etc. I do put some in the dust bath (also got its own roof and frame painted pink!) but I find they prefer soil off the mole hills!

Since I've been doing this I've not had the familiar crawling sensation on my arms. Now my dad is adamant that he can't get rid of his mites. His birds have wooden nest box and wooden perches, that he soaks in water daily trying to drown the mites. His pens are old pig buildings so are concrete walls and floors. When I have suggested he buy the DE, not only does he gasp (the thought I spending money.......) but he says he hasn't got it. He has 2 pens of 12 birds at any one time. I have 4 girls and that's it.

I've tried the sprays, barrier red mite powder etc but I find the DE works and have been known to grab a handful and the bird at the same time. She squarks and squeals but then usually shakes herself up whilst giving me a dirty look. But she aint scratching!!

The only other person who has my eggs is my sister and a mite on the egg when its one of mine in my cupboard is one thing but she has passed comment before now that when she's opened the box, she can see movement. (Dads eggs). They are skin toned so aren't sucking, but they stay in the boxes which are reused. This isn't recent but its not nice.

Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2020, 09:41:26 am »
I use it in the houses for red mite and other external parasites. I find it works really well. I believe you can also feed it to reduce internal parasites but I've never used it for that - unless the hens consume it inadvertently. Maybe I do too - I don't have worms  :roflanim:


  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2020, 02:22:48 pm »
Try to make sure there is always a dry area in the pen/run eg under a hen house then the birds will make their own dust bathing crater. No need to add anything to it. In my experience birds much prefer to create their own bathing area rather than using one you have specially prepared.
I use DE copiously in hen houses to prevent red mite, and also directly on the birds to prevent other parasites taking hold. I don't use it as a wormer although the birds will ingest a little via preening.


  • Joined Jul 2010
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2020, 05:10:18 pm »
DE works brilliantly, remember to apply it (read: throw handfuls in to) all nooks and crannies.

You know when people say:Ē There were thousands of themĒ but itís a figure of speech and they just mean to say Ďa lotí? With red mite itís literally thousands! Red mite infestations grow so exponentially within days of arrival the coop can be crawling with them - look at the dust between perches and if it moves (even though itís still grey) you have the start of an infestation and theyíll be dark red from sucking blood within days.

We mix DE in the chickensí dustbath, their dustbath is a tub filled with compost. Whenever the birds have the chance, they prefer to dustbath in a flower bed, though. We donít put any DE in their food.

We buy 10kg Smite tubs online, the only one that wasnít any good was a different brand we once tried that was meant to be of marine origin or something like that, it was cheap but it felt different and didnít work.

Check the coop every few days for mites as soon as the weather warms bit, the earliest weíve had red mite was February one year but normally itís much later.

Good luck!  :thumbsup:


  • Joined Aug 2014
  • Conwy
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2020, 06:01:54 pm »
I shake DE into every crevice in my wooden hen houses regularly. I do hold my breath whilst doing it! So far it seems to work well at avoiding mites. Someone on this site once also suggested walloping the perches with something when cleaning - just to see it it disturbed mites. I do that routinely too.


  • Joined Sep 2020
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Diatomaceous Earth
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2020, 01:48:58 pm »
Thank you all so much for your kind replies. So much to think about and Iím scratching myself thinking about it all!! Nevertheless I bought a large bucket of Total Mite which states good for dust bathing etc so will try a little of that and see how we all get on. Yes I guess I was a bit ambitious about 25 hens first off but it actually didnít start out that way. Itís morphed into 25 but Iím excited about it all, have time on my hands and so keen to be able to spend more time outside - I tend not to worry about wet mucky weather. Quite happy in my wellies  :excited: Thank you again.


Diatomaceous Earth?

Started by MiriMaran (15.76)

Replies: 16
Views: 7096
Last post May 17, 2009, 08:41:15 pm
by Townie
Diatomaceous earth

Started by Bramham Wiltshire Horns (15.76)

Replies: 9
Views: 2739
Last post December 19, 2014, 07:38:31 am
by Womble
Diatomaceous earth - online suppliers?

Started by ellied (15.42)

Replies: 33
Views: 9075
Last post February 28, 2012, 03:08:40 pm
by Sandy
What on earth is it?

Started by Helencus (7.48)

Replies: 17
Views: 4458
Last post May 16, 2010, 07:51:26 pm
by Helencus
what on earth ????

Started by northfifeduckling (7.48)

Replies: 2
Views: 1258
Last post February 25, 2013, 07:51:51 pm
by goosepimple

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2021. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS