Feeding diatomaceous earth to chickens and other types of poultry.

A range of diatomaceous earth sold and tested as feed supplements.

Table of Contents

Is diatomaceous earth good for chickens?

Diatomaceous earth is good for chickens when used on  a daily basis, hens on a 2 to 3% DE diet lay more eggs with a better shell quality and suffer less from parasites. I have been using it for decades.

Diatomaceous earth has three main benefits when mixed with chicken feed:

  1. It prevents clumping of feed particles by keeping them separate, so there is improved flow-ability, mix-ability and handling of the animal feed. 
  2. It controls insects pests and vermin which might otherwise consume or contaminate the poultry feed.
  3. It promotes more complete digestion and provides trace minerals to the diet.

This is a big advantage to chickens because when acting as an anti-caking agent to prevent clumping of feed particles, the surface area of feed exposed to the digestive processes is increased and therefore more feed is actually digested and utilised.

Below: How much diatomaceous earth to feed to chickens.

Video transcript: Today we are going to have a quick look at how much DE to feed to chickens. This here is 3 grams exactly and this is the dose for a single standard hen for a day. You can see it is not very much, about a heaped teaspoon full. All of the research suggests that between 2 and 3% of the total feed amount is best.

The use of diatomaceous earth in animal and poultry diets has been well studied.

In their study, the "Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production, and egg quality of free-range organic laying hens" authors D.C.Bennett, A.YeeY, J.RheeK and M.Cheng concluded that

"Hens supplemented with 2% DE consumed 8 ± 2 g/hen per day more and laid more and bigger, better quality eggs, with a 92% hen day production, compared with 81% for the control hens during the laying season."

and

"Ectoparasite populations on dust bathing hens were compared with those on dust bathing birds. Diatomaceous earth reduced ectoparasites on hens by 80–100% after 1 week of dust box use."

Is diatomaceous earth safe to feed to chickens?

Diatomaceous earth is a completely natural feed additive that contains no chemical additives and is completely safe for chickens to eat. It also has the benefit of being a better choice if you eat the eggs or meat as there is no withdrawal period.

The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada recognise that diatomaceous earth is safe to use in animal foods and as a topical treatment for parasites.

Diatomaceous earth is one of the most tested and studied feed additives and topical treatments and has been found to be safe to eat.

How much diatomaceous earth (DE) Should you to feed to your chickens?

All of the studies into the benefits of diatomaceous earth for chickens have found that between 2% and 3% of the total feed is the best quantity to feed to chickens.

This means that the average chickens should be given between 2 and 3 grams of diatomaceous earth a day or between 14 and 21 grams a week.

Table showing how much diatomaceous earth to add to chicken an poultry feed:

Type of chicken.Amount of feed per day.Amount of diatomaceous earth added to feed.
Heritage large fowl130 to 150 grams3 to 4 grams per day
Bantam90 to 110 grams2 to 3 grams per day
Modern hybrid120 to 140 grams per day3 to 4 grams per day
True bantam60 to 90 grams 2 grams per day

Below: This is 3 grams of diatomaceous earth, the dose for a single chicken, it is about a teaspoon.

How to add diatomaceous earth to chicken feed:

There are a couple of ways to add diatomaceous earth to poultry feed. You can just sprinkle the desired amount over the surface of the food and give it a shake to distribute it evenly.

Below: My favourite method for adding diatomaceous earth to chicken feed, spoon it onto the feed and mix in gently.

 Video transcript: When it comes to mixing DE with feed, I have here three kilograms of scratch feed which will last a group of my hens for a week. I known that one heaped tablespoon is enough for this hens for one day. Then, rather than shake it about we are just going to mix it in with a spoon. Do it gently because you do not want to get the dust in the air, DE will naturally stick to the grains but you don't want to be shaking it up and aerosolizing the dust as then you be breathing in the dust and that is not good for you. That is all it is 2 to 3 grams of DE per hen per day mixed in with the feed and you can do it just as easily with pelleted chicken feed, it does not need to be scratch grains.

Can I mix diatomaceous earth with water for chickens?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is not suitable for use in water and is ineffective when wet or used internally in chickens. Adding diatomaceous earth to water is a waste and it will just sink to the bottom and set solid.

Diatomaceous earth should always be used and kept dry. Keep DE in a sealed plastic container with a tight fitting lid and store inside the house rather than any damp sheds.