helps keep mites away

Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Coop Mites And Bugs

I cleaned the chicken coop again. This time I sprinkled some Diatomaceous Earth in there.

I don’t do it all the time (use DE). But maybe once every several weeks or once a month (I do a regular quickie coop cleanout about every 3- 5 days or so, depending).

[ Read: Dropping Board For Chicken Poop ]

Why Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) In Chicken Coop?

First of all, it’s a bit of a tongue twister to pronounce Diatomaceous Earth!

Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Today, silica deposits are mined from these areas.

DE is used for many purposes. In short, regarding bugs, it affects the exoskeleton of insects. I wrote more about it in the following article:

[ Read: Diatomaceous Earth For Long Term Storage Of Wheat & Grain ]

Chicken Mites

A typical chicken coop is a prime target for mites and bugs. Chickens do most of their poop business while roosting at night (~ 75% of it). So it’s important to clean up the business…

I’ve read that if mites are present, they’ll make their way onto the roost and then up their chicken legs while roosting at night. At least that’s one way…

So I also sprinkle some DE on the roost board and their dropping board underneath:

sprinkling DE on chicken roost

In addition, after I’ve scooped out the droppings and added some fresh pine shavings, I’ll sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around the floor of the chicken coop. I get all around the edges at the wall too.

You might be wondering how I sprinkle it?

I first tried just shaking some in their after I scooped some with gloved hands. That did not work well! This stuff sticks to everything including gloves. And it did not spread well this way – by hand.

I didn’t want to sprinkle too much, because some advise against too much – for the sake of the bird’s lungs. It could be irritating.

So I questioned Mrs. J for some ideas. Well, she had a good idea… To use one of those multipurpose fine mesh sifters. You might call it a powdered sugar duster for baking. The important part is the fine mesh screen. I found it to be perfect for dusting / sprinkling diatomaceous earth.

Norpro Multipurpose Shaker Dust Sifter
(view on amzn)

I also sprinkle some DE into their nesting boxes:

DE in chicken nesting boxes

I keep a quantity of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) for its many uses. It’s cheap insurance / preventative measures for bugs. I bought two bags of this stuff a long time ago and I till have plenty.

The popular one these days looks like this one, which happens to include a duster:

HARRIS DE Food Grade, 2lb with Powder Duster in The Bag
(view on amzn)

As an aside, I find it pretty funny how the chickens get all anxious when I close their coop door for cleaning:


  1. Nice looking hens,
    I use DE in my coop too, when i clean it out i usually spray it down with a pyrethrin based pesticide then let it dry out, when i put new bedding in i sprinkle DE everywhere, pretty heavy actually, then when i add bedding i will usually add a little more DE too. Been getting it by the 25# bag from ag supply place.

  2. i have been using an old fashion flour sifter for years and it works well for me. i just move that side handle side to side and it spreads the DE evenly.
    i put DE down every time i change the pine shavings out and especially where they scratch out their dusting holes.
    Diatomaceous earth is some great stuff, i know of people who add it to their livestock feed to help with intestinal worms.

    1. Cats get DE in their wet food every so often. Food grade is even ok for humans as silica is in all of our tissues. Consider reading up on it. There are many forms of silica, plant and mineral.

    1. Good tip, thanks. Something a mask would actually work for :)

      When I apply the DE, I hold my breath. But if you’ve got a big coop, a dust mask would be a good idea.

  3. I drilled holes in the plastic lid of a large plastic peanut butter jar to use as a shaker/dispenser. It works well for me. If the chickens have a favorite spot for a dust bath, it doesn’t hurt to put a little there also. You probably don’t want to breath that stuff, and you don’t want your chickens breathing it either, so try to avoid large dust clouds when applying.

  4. I dump wood stove ashes in the pen for them to bathe in, never have a mite or flea problem. Friend of mine had huge problem with mites even spraying weekly, took her a washtub of ashes and no mites after two weeks.

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