Why Do Chickens Need Dirt?

Having pets needs a little compromise to accommodate them. Cats and dogs are a bit cleaner compared to chickens and ducks. A dust bath is what your chicken needs for its well-being. This means you need to have some dirt in your backyard, just for your chicken.

Dirt is essential as it makes up your chicken’s dust bath. This is where it can spend some good time relaxing and groom itself.

Now, why do chickens need dirt? Check this out.

1. To clean themselves

Just like you soak yourself in a bathtub, your chicken enjoys the same benefits by bathing in the dust. Bathing in the dust is a perfect way of cleaning itself. It gets to remove all the dirt from underneath its feathers. As it scratches itself with the beak, dirt falls off leaving it very clean.

2. To get rid of parasites

Chickens are usually invaded by fleas, lice, mites, and many more parasites. These parasites make them uncomfortable and feed on them. Dust baths help in shedding them from the body of the chicken.

Tiny parasites usually occupy the roots of the feathers, where they can’t be found easily. However, dust baths enable the chicken to get them out using their beaks. Shaking their feathers also makes those on top of the feathers to fall off.

This is somehow a self-defence mechanism where chickens fight parasites all by themselves.

As mentioned in an early post dust bathing has been shown to stop 80 % or more of a chicken’s parasites. To learn more and to read about what’s the best dust baths for your chickens check out this post…

3. To give room for new feathers

A time reaches when a chicken has old and loose feathers that no longer help. Bathing in dust usually helps in removing such feathers. This gives room for new feathers to grow and replace the old ones. This is absolutely essential for growth.

Also, young and weak feathers can be removed to let the strong ones grow. Dust bathing removes the chicken’s dead cells, leaving new skin where new feathers can easily grow.

4. To remove excess oil

Chickens have a lot of oil on their skin. This oil is secreted by the preening glands. Sometimes, too much oil secretion can cause the oil to build upon the skin and block pores. It can also attract dirt or even house parasites.

During dust bathing, some of this oil is removed. This clears the skin and makes it easier for new feathers to grow. It also contributes to the well being of the chicken.


Just like pigs, ducks, and other animals, chickens get dirty to be clean. Dust baths are very important for chickens. If you have some backyard chicken pets, make sure you make some DIY dust baths for them. They prefer loose soil that is easier to scoop out. Let your chicken have a good time in a dust bath.