Coop Dust Bath

All chickens have lice living under their feathers, crawling on their skin. You usually don’t see them, not with those fluffy bottoms. The hens show no signs of distress.



Despite the yuck factor for us humans, this is no big deal. I’ve written about lice here if you want to see photos and learn more.

The hens  keep these soft-bodied, detritus-eating external parasites at bay by dust bathing. In the winter, the ground is frozen solid, or thawed and muddy, or covered by snow, which give the lice population the opportunity to explode and cause discomfort and lack of vitality. So, provide your hens with a dust bath inside of the coop. I used to use a kitty litter box, but the Girls kicked the sand out. Now I use a tub and fill it a third-full with all-purpose sand and a cup of diatomaceous earth.

It’s good if you can set it in a sunny spot.



If possible, have a tub large enough that there can be communal bathing.



Let the sand fly!



  1. A shot of ‘chicken underpants’ makes me laugh every time. Apparently, I’m eleven.

  2. I’m curious to know how tall your tote is, and how long did it take your hens to accept the new dust bath tote? The reason I’m asking is because I recently purchased a see-through tote to replace the shallow container they were using, for the same reason you did. I have had mine sitting in the covered part of the run for about a week now, and not one of them has ventured in. Maybe they won’t use it because the walls are too high?

    • It’s about 18 inches. It took awhile for them to get comfortable with it – a bit of cracked corn in there helped a lot! (Just once to get them to hop in.)

  3. I think of them as chicken booties, and I adore them too. The other most favorite part about chickens is watching them dust bathe. They are adorable in their orgiastic wallowing and dirt flinging.

  4. My Girls are very lucky, in that when we built the additional covered areas because of all the rain we have been getting, we positioned one to get any winter sunshine we get and covered this with heavy duty clear plastic. We dug a 6 ‘x 2’ trench, dried and sieved the soil and added DE powder. The Girls have used this every day for the last 18 months .I keep it clean of feathers and leaves and add more DE powder as needed, the one problem I had was that they always walked off before they shook which meant the hole was getting deeper, I found a unique way of getting over this by taking my wheelbarrow for a walk and collecting all the local molehills, this is lovely clean soil which we either dry by the sun or the log burner in the winter. What we do for our pets!! :)

  5. We have a dry covered area in a part of our run that is perfect for dust bathing even when other parts of the run are wet. But as the comment before, the girls will leave the dust bath and come to their covered patio area where the food and water is and shake off there. I am forever sweeping it. Oh well, they are never going to do what you want where you want. I have told them repeatedly not to poop on the patio and they take no notice of that either.

  6. In the winter mine make a bee line for the house when let out of their run and dust bathe under the eave where the ground is dry regardless of how many or how luxurious the dust bins are I provide. ;-)
    Much to my dismay.

  7. We prefer bathing outside but sometimes if the weather is bad we’ll hop in our indoor sand tray. Unfortunately, somebody, (Pancake), keeps pooping in it.

  8. I’m lucky enough to have a 6×10 covered pen which is well protected with big sheets of plexi screwed to the sides for winter. I keep a large cement mixing tray as a dust bath year round but they always prefer the pen floor. In the fall I decided to move a huge plastic flowerpot into the coop for winter. It needed to be stored to protect from freezing and expanding and I thought it would be something new and interesting for the girls to perch on. I use it in the veg garden to grow organic herbs so I knew the soil was safe. Immediately the girls took to it as a new dust bath. It is big enough for 2, although I have seen 3 attempting to use at one time. As they slowly knock the soil out I add sand mixed with wood ash and DE. The pen is dry enough that they also sometimes bathe on the floor beside the pot so when I see a dust bath hole formed I throw some ash and DE down there too. I keep a nice layer of straw down on the pen floor and replace every 3 weeks or so (they spend their entire day out there). When I rake the straw out I take a fork and break up the floor to keep it from compacting before putting down fresh straw so they can easily bathe on the floor as well. I put the old straw out over the snow for them to come out and free range for a while as I clean and till up their pen.