I remember the first time I ever saw one of my chickens take a dust bath. I had no idea what a dust bath entailed, but there she was, sprawled on the ground, throwing her body upside-down and sideways, furiously flapping her wings and shaking up the dirt.
At first it was alarming, and I thought she’d been stung by a bee or infested with fleas. But as she settled into a cloud of dust, I realized she was happy as a clam at high tide. Or a kid in a candy store. Or… a chicken in a dust bath. (That’s got to be a saying somewhere!)
Dust baths are the chicken equivalent of a shower (with a little yoga in between). It might seem counterintuitive to bathe in dirt (especially when we humans are always trying to wash off our dirt), but to a chicken, a shallow pit of dry, dusty mulch (or sand or ash) in which she can roll around is pure indulgence. It’s kind of like coating a sugar donut.
I’ve written about the dust bath before, but to fully appreciate the ritual, a video is the next best thing to seeing it in person. I can just picture Iman, my Golden Laced Cochin, relishing the dirt as if she were rolling around on a black sand beach in Hawaii.