Dust Bathing

Once every few weeks a HenCam fan emails me in a panic – they’ve seen a sick, or possibly dying (!) chicken.  So far, every one of these viewers has been looking at blissfully happy and healthy hens dust bathing. A hen sprawled in the dirt does look sick. Her legs stick out. She’s twisting about, halfway upside-down. This odd behavior looks even stranger when viewed on the HenCam. What you can’t see from the coop’s camera are the deep dust baths that the hens have scratched out in the pen. When in them, the girls are so submerged that you might only see a bit of comb above ground level.

I’ve made a video of Buffy dust bathing so you can have a good view of this strange, yet normal behavior. Don’t hesitate to email me if you see something amiss on the HenCam. But, perhaps with this video there will be fewer false alarms!


  1. The first time my great nieces ages 3 and 7 saw their first chicken dirt bath they came running into the house screaming Nan Nan come quick one of the hens is dying. When I ran outside here was Hope taking a dust bath. Since then the girls love to sit out and watch the chickens clean themselves—they think it’s awesome.

  2. Thanks for the education. The communal bath is rather like a hen hot tub!. Love the interaction of Candy and the hens. Cracks me up every time.

  3. Even knowing this behavior before having chickens, when I first saw them really sprawled out, half upside down I thought: What’s wrong? My girls bathe two by two. The two older girls together and the two younger ones together.

  4. Cute movie! And I’m glad there’s audio- those contented little clucks are such a neat sound.

  5. I do so love watching my chickens dust bathe. I have noticed that my rooster also very much enjoys watching his hens bathe. It seems to arouse him! Have you noticed this in your flock?

  6. You are so right. They dust bathing is quite a scene. I think they are adorable when they do it and they are almost hiding in the bowl of dust.
    Amy at Verde Farm

  7. My aged (and now deceased) Wyandotte, Dworkin, would lie on her back in her dustbath with her legs in the air making a repeated low honking sound. I was convinced she had some terrible respiratory problem, and ran to check her. She stopped honking and looked at me. I looked at her. I asked her if she was alright. She gave me another filthy look. As I walked away the honking started again, and I can only assume it’s the chicken version of ‘OOhhh, this is nice’.
    Now Pixie does it, but without the complex yoga positions…

  8. I have a big spruce tree in my yard and when the hens are let out to roam around within the first half hour to forty five minutes of being let out the majority of them head for that tree to take a communal dirt bath under it. The dirt is very loose and dry and I would like to think that because it’s an evergreen and somewhat bug resistant that the hens no that as well and choose that dirt for it’s benefits.

  9. Dust bathing I have seen all my life, but the one activity that I had never seen before is sun bathing. The first time I saw one of mine laid over on the side, wings all flopped out and looking, well, dead, it freaked me. I poked her, and she glared and got up. They’ve done it several times since and it never fails to alarm me, until I see them move.

  10. The goats like to eat the white pines?! Another good reason to get a couple of those adorable characters. We have just too many of those young white pines coming up everywhere that I would like to weed out to give some of the hard woods a better chance.

  11. This is so funny. The first time I saw one of my hens taking a bath, I thought she had a broken leg or was writhing in pain. Now I find it very very entertaining.