Today we’re going to discuss somewhat of a hot topic in the chicken world. It’s one of those topics that most chicken keepers have a strong opinion. What am I talking about? Diatomaceous earth (DE) of course! There are many chicken keepers who won’t get near the stuff and many who use it on a regular basis with much success. So, what are your thoughts on DE? Do you use it in your coop? Let’s first take a look at what DE actually is and then I’ll share my thoughts.
What is DE?
According to Oregon State University,
“Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Today, silica deposits are mined from these areas.
Diatomaceous earth is practically non-toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. It is commonly encountered by birds and other wildlife, and it’s not known to be harmful. However, no toxicity evaluations for wildlife were found. Agencies have stated that diatomaceous earth is unlikely to affect birds, fish, or other wildlife in a harmful way.
Diatomaceous earth is made of silicon dioxide. When chickens were fed a diet that contained less silicon dioxide than normal, their bone formation was harmed. This suggests that silicon dioxide plays an important role in bone formation.”
Why Do Chicken Keepers Use DE?
One of my greatest “fears” as a chicken keeper (outside of losing a bird), is dealing with pesky bugs that will hurt my flock. Mites and lice will show no mercy to our chickens and flies are no fun either! Flystrike anyone? Keeping these pests away naturally is important to me, and DE is a safe and effective way to do that.
How Does DE Work?
According to Oregon State University,
“Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process. It remains effective as long as it is kept dry and undisturbed.”
It is also absolutely critical to use the food grade DE. The food-grade DE is low in crystalline silica and considered safe for humans and our backyard flocks. The filter-grade DE is high in crystalline silica and toxic to humans, so please don’t use this type.
How I Use DE
I have used Strong Animals’ DE product, Coop Recuperate for almost 3 years faithfully and it packs a double punch. Coop Recuperate uses DE and organic essential oils to keep pests at bay. The little bugs are repelled by the essential oils and if they do get through that, the DE will take care of the rest.
I haven’t lost one chicken due to ingesting DE or the little pests that can harm your chickens. If you are using DE properly, it will actually help the health of your chicken! Coop Recuperate absorbs moisture, cuts down the ammonia smell, and lengthens the life of your bedding…and in my opinion, the life of your chickens!
You can also use Coop Recuperate in your garbage cans to keep the fly population down as well.
The More You Know
A little research can go a long way. The bottom line is that you need to do what you feel is best for your flocks and family. We have had a lot of success with Coop Recuperate and honestly, I don’t let myself run out! It’s super easy to use as well. I simply sprinkle it across the bedding, almost like I’m putting sprinkles on a cookie. How many sprinkles or how much Coop Recuperate? Watch my quick how to video on Coop Recuperate below.
I understand all of the questions new backyard chicken keepers have. And even those of us who have been doing it for years are still learning! The best thing we can do for our flocks is to research and ask questions! If you have any questions, please reach out. We’d love to try and help!
Until next time,
The Wing Lady