Dusting and Deworming Hens with Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

by: EJ on 07/07/2015

Today's post was written by Janet Wallace, originally published in Small Farm Canada magazine's July/August issue and reprinted here with permission. 



Photo Credit: Stuart Black

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is used as a non-toxic alternative to chemical dewormers in livestock. DE is made from the shells of microscopic aquatic animals – although it feels like a soft powder, it contains tiny sharp edges that can shred the skin and soft tissues of parasites and other soft-bodied organisms.

To evaluate the effect of DE on two breeds of organic free-range laying hens, researchers fed half the hens diets supplemented with DE (2%). The DE had little effect on the parasite load of Lowmann Brown hens, a breed known for its parasite resistance.


Photo Credit: Ralph of Gin

In contrast, Bovan Brown hens fed DE had lower parasite loads than Bovan hens fed a regular diet. 

When it comes to where it counts – egg production – DE proved its worth. In both breeds, hens fed DE were significantly heavier and laid more eggs than the hens on the control diet. And Bovan Brown hens with DE also laid larger eggs than the controls. Moreover, DE dusted on hens was found to reduce mite infestations.

Source: Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production, and egg quality of free-range organic laying hens. DC Bennett, A Yee, YJ Rhee and KM Cheng. Poultry Science. 2011. 90 (7): 1416-26.






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