What is Diatomaceous earth? It’s basically rock containing fossilised micro skeletal remains. It’s usually crushed into various grade of powder and used in different applications.
How does diatomaceous earth work as a natural insecticide? The simplified version is that it’s the equivalent of insects dragging their bodies across a field of super sharp razors that cut through their exoskeleton (armour). As to its efficacy, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Seeing as I was new to chicken keeping I thought it best to outlay the cost to give the chooks a head start, especially given they were coming from an egg production farm with a condensed living environment and could be bringing mites and other bugs with them. The chickens already had a lot of feather loss and I had no idea how much of that was due to parasites.
Here’s an article to leave you a little more confused :o)
How to use it with chickens? You can add it to their feed as well as put it in their dust baths and nesting boxes. I use it mostly as an additive to their dedicated dust bath area. I just mix it into the top layer of sand and the chickens do the rest.
It’s a super fine particle so you will want to wear a dust mask when handling it. After all your don’t want mini razors in your lungs right? I never handle it on days that have even the slightest wind. Other than the respiratory factor it just goes everywhere with the slightest gust when you try to place it. If I don’t have a mask I definitely pull my T-shirt up over my nose ninja style. It’s not perfect but a better precaution than than not doing so. It’s been nearly a year and the chickens have no respiratory conditions that I know of. I stir the DE in with the sand and I think it binds to the sand grains reducing the amount that floats up in the air while still getting flicked under their wings.
You’ll find most diatomaceous products in Au come from Mt Sylvia.
I use their DE.Fines with my chickens (Yes it’s food grade, check out the link below to Mt Sylvia). I spoke to their rep and he said the Absorbacide is ~10 microns and the Fines are ~30 microns.
Seriously, at that level you know there’s going to be 10micron particles in amongst the ‘massive’ 30 micron ones.
When I got pricing I rang mostly produce stores thinking they’d have cheap bulk pricing but they all seemed to be ludicrously expensive too. Pricing ranged from $9/kg up to $60+/kg !
I highly recommend Farmcraft in Acacia Ridge. I get a lot of my rural supplies from them. My Barastoc Golden Yolk feed for $15 (lot places are $20-$22) and my DE Fines cost $39.95/20kg bag That’s ~$2/kg!
Just call ahead as you may need to order it in.
There’s a very good chance the smaller packaged expensive DE you get comes from Mt. Sylvia. You can read all about their products here.
I chose fines because I figured there’d be absobicide sized grains in there as well as the 30 micron grains, which it does. It was my balance between insecticide capabilities and possible respiratory issues for the chooks (and myself). Plus it was the best bang for buck. I’m trying to minimise inputs to my permaculture system but I’m not going to be able to grab a shovel and start mining DE so I may as well keep these costs down by buying a large bag that’ll last for ages.