The other day I saw two of our chickens pecking and scratching a shallow hole in the ground. They were making a new dust bathing area.
They scooted around. They spread their feathers. They pecked some more. They were working together on this one…great team work! Notice the black chicken supervising the job. She clucked at them telling them what to do and how to do it. The two workers finally nestled in and started ‘bathing’. Standing back so I did not get dirt thrown all over me, I observed this natural instinct. It was quite entertaining to watch…out went the feathers…over onto their backs they went…flopping back and forth…side to side…dust surrounding them like a cloud.
So why do chickens take dust baths?
Dust baths are a natural order of chickens and a necessity!
Inevitably, parasites such as fleas, mites, and lice find their way onto chickens. After creating a shallow hole in a dry area, chickens will roll around in the dry dirt. They spread their wings and flop around to get dirt/dust all over them, including their skin (where parasites live). The dust causes the parasites to suffocate, thus killing them.
When the chickens are done bathing, they shake all the dirt off (similar to a wet dog shaking water off). By shaking the dirt off, they also shake the dead parasites off.
One more way to show that chickens know how to take care of themselves.