Digging to China

How many chickens do you see in this photo?

Philomena is on the left. Buffy is on the right. Look again. Eleanor is in the middle.

Here is another view:

This is the hens’ favorite dust wallow. It is dry, deep, sunny, and warm. Eleanor is so ancient – seven years! – that she no longer scratches the ground for bugs. But she does like a vigorous dirt bath.

Even Candy likes to sit in the prized corner. When she’s tucked in there it’s like she’s gone down the proverbial rabbit hole. I’ve been worried that she was truly going to disappear – she likes to dig and although the fence is installed six-inches below ground,  that hole is so deep that she could now easily burrow out. So, on Saturday I came up with a temporary solution and filled the pit with two flakes of hay that the goats have refused to eat.  Of course, once it was on the other side of the fence the boys declared the hay delicious and have been nibbling what they can pull through the wire. Meanwhile, I dumped half a bag of coarse builder’s sand in a rarely used dust wallow to the right of this one, thinking that the sand would make it more enticing to the chickens. They were not impressed and took turns kicking it all over the run. Which goes to show that you can lead a hen to a dirt wallow but can’t make them bathe.


  1. Hi Terry, thanks for the chuckle. I need it as we are getting snow right now.

  2. Hens never look more content then when dust bathing.

    I too made a “special” place in my run complete with a cover from the rain and sun, barely used. They decided the spot next to the waterer was the perfect spot, and in the course of their excuvation the ground gives and the waterer falls over. UGH!!!

  3. Hi, I am new to this site. I live in Texas. I just bought me 25 chicks on March 14th. I have Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, and Silver Laced Wyandottes. I just love watching your hens and seeing your setup. I have already learned a lot from your website and from all your dedicated readers. I can’t wait for my chicks to start laying. Keep up the good work.

  4. At this very moment it looks to me that there are at least four, perhaps more, of the girls in the dust wallow, with several more standing around waiting to jump in! By the way, your photo of The Beast on March 22nd was very nice … she looked like the Spring Beauty … at just the right angle, you caught her “best side.”

  5. Our’s favorite wallow is right in front of the gate. We ended up putting a large wooden block on the outside (gate opens in). Even with the block in place, a NH Red managed to dig herself out the other day.

    The second favorite place is next to the barn, and they not managed to dig that one out in a couple years.

    I sprinkle leached wood ash and DE in the holes, as pest preventatives.

    And surely you’ve been informed (by goats, etc.) that the grass (or Hay) is always greener on the other side of the fence…. :)

  6. Who knew chickens were such little miners?! Mine have their designated dust bathing area, in a sunny corner of the covered run. But they have also dug a ditch around the entire inside of their fenced outer run, which I now must fill in to keep them from enlarging, and escaping under. In another spot, they have an ongoing mining project — a hole, continually being enlarged, in hard-packed earth, that is now — I kid you not, at least 18″ deep. I fill it in with soil and sand — they dig it out. I’m going to try adding a few rocks to the mix. Aieee.

    A couple of days ago I cleaned out the brooder box (a giant cardboard carton) of my 2-week-old peeps, refilling waterer and feeder, and giving them a bigger sandbox. I read somewhere to give them sand or grit, right from the beginning, so I started out with a small dish. They tore into it enthusiastically, so when I upgraded their quarters, I gave them a much bigger sand dish. Right away the smallest peep jumped in and started dust-bathing, throwing sand far and wide. The other chicks flew to the other side of the box, to escape the shrapnel. I scared them all, laughing so hard. I do love chickens.