Dust bath, also called dusting, dirt baths, or sand bathing, are part of a bird’s preening and plumage maintenance that keeps feathers in top condition. This is something you want to make sure you have for your birds, both chickens, and quails.
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Why Do Birds Dust Bath?
The dust that is worked into the bird’s feathers will absorb excess oil to help keep the feathers from becoming greasy or matted. The oil-soaked dust is then shed easily to keep the feathers clean and flexible for more aerodynamic flight and efficient insulation.
Dry skin and other debris can also be removed with excess dust, and regular dusting may help smother or minimize lice, feather mites, and other parasites.
Dusting can occur anywhere and at any time, however, when a bird feels it is necessary to keep its feathers well-groomed and when a suitable patch of dust or dry dirt is nearby.
What to Use for Dust Baths
We use dirt, sand, pine shavings, and ash from our woodstove for your birds. Most of this is really accessible here. Sand is a little more difficult during the cooler months but plan ahead and buy an extra bag in the summer.
You can use something to hold your dust bath materials. My chickens have created wallows in their runs so I just add material to them as needed because they already have favorite spots to dirt bath.
You could use an old tire, or just about anything that will hold your materials and are big enough for your chickens.
For my quail, I use a little tray from a dollar store to give them sand. They will all rush into a fresh tray of sand.