Friday, February 11, 2011

The Art of Dust Bathing

A lot of people don't know it but chickens keep themselves clean by dust bathing. My chickens are not happy about the snow and have barely removed themselves from the coop/surrounding area to go to their usual dustbathing area. I tried to remedy the situation yesterday by bringing them some ash. They didn't know what to think of it. I picked one up and stuck it in the ash and fluffed it all around the chicken. It thought I was killing it as usual (chickens always think death is near) and squawked to the point that I was afraid Bill might hurt me. Then they all started. The ash remained untouched this morning in the corner of their coop. I was beginning to think they were all going to have mites and things and then I was going to have to bath everyone in the tub or dust them with mite powder but lo and behold they scratched down to the dirt next to a tree near the coop and started rolling in it. If you haven't seen this, it is just about the cutest thing in the world. I can't show you my girls doing it because they think I'm evil right now due to the ash incident and I don't want to disturb them to take a photo but I will show you a video of chickens doing this.

See what I mean? It's adorable and so funny. In the summer mine spend the better half of the day doing this. They just roll around in dirt and fluff themselves up. Then they go around and peck bugs and that's their day. They are the happiest chickens around. They start doing this really young too. When you first have chicks you usually keep them on paper towel because they need to know what is food and what isn't so you don't give them woodchips right away. Then later on you give them wood chips/shavings and they'll try to dust bath in them sometimes. It's really funny watching the chicks do this.

My eggs are going in to lockdown tomorrow which means that you no longer turn them daily. You leave them be so they can get oriented and peck up to get out. Once in a while I've been told they'll peck the egg open the wrong way. Some say let the chick die if it does that but I have a feeling I'll have a hard time letting any of them go if I can help them. But we'll see what happens. I hope at least some of them hatch and there are some girls.

I can't wait for chicks. I want to tell a funny little story. I was cleaning the brooder box one day for my chicks this past spring and I put them all in a box while I did this. I heard a crazy amount of peeping and so I looked in to make sure everyone was okay. Well... apparently a little tinsel star had fallen into the box and one of the chicks had grabbed it and started running around with it while all of the others chased her! She wanted it for herself but like all birds, they all go for the shiny. I ended up reaching in and taking it because I didn't want anyone to choke but that was a battle in itself getting it out of that little stubborn thing's beak!

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