Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is the fossilised remains of microscopic one-celled plants (phytoplankton) called diatoms that lived in the world’s oceans and lakes. These deposits are mined from underwater beds or from ancient dried lake bottoms.
Diatomaceous Earth has a wide variety of uses such as in filtration for swimming pools and abrasives found in cosmetics such as facial scrubs and some toothpaste and as an absorbent for liquids, for example in cat litter. Food grade diatomaceous earth is particularly useful to reduce internal and external parasites, such as Worms, Lice and Mites in animals, including poultry. Because the milling process produces different sized and shaped particles, it is important only to use the food grade type of diatomaceous earth for livestock. Pool filter grade diatomaceous earth has been heat and chemically treated and will poison an animal or human who ingests it.
Food grade diatomaceous earth makes a very effective natural insecticide. The insecticidal quality of diatomaceous earth is due to the razor-sharp edges of the diatom remains. When diatomaceous earth comes in contact with the insects, the sharp edges lacerate the bugs waxy exoskeleton and then the powdery diatomaceous earth absorbs the body fluids causing death from dehydration.
Food grade diatomaceous earth has also been used for many years as a natural wormer for livestock. Some believe diatomaceous earth scratches and dehydrates the parasites. Some scientists also believe that diatomaceous earth is a de-ionizer or de-energizer of worms or parasites. Whatever its effect it does give definite control.
Food grade diatomaceous earth works in a purely physical/mechanical manner, not ‘chemical’ and therefore has no chemical toxicity. More importantly parasites don’t build up a tolerance/immunity to its chemical reaction, so rotation of wormers is unnecessary.
Internal Daily recommended food grade diatomaceous earth feeding
Chickens and other poultry – 2-5% in feed (but follow package instructions)
Internal feeding of food grade diatomaceous earth does help eliminate most internal worms, though possibly not all and feeding needs to be done daily. Although larvae in the blood stream will not be killed. It’s also excellent when fed daily to keep down fly loads, since food grade diatomaceous earth is eliminated from the body, exactly as it went in, it helps reduce the manure odour and kills flies that come in contact with it. Users report a noticeable reduction in flies. However unfortunately it will also have a similar effect on more welcome insects such as bees, so be careful where you use it outside the coop.
Use diatomaceous earth throughout the barn, chicken coop and pastures. When cleaning the barn and coops, lightly, but thoroughly sprinkle diatomaceous earth throughout. It keeps the hen-house clean and dry. In between barn mucking, sprinkle diatomaceous earth on wet spots to help dry them out and keep flies from laying eggs.
Diatomaceous earth is also a useful weapon in the fight against red mite and should be applied to cracks and crevices in the roosting area. In addition Diatomaceous earth can be dusted between the feathers of the birds and onto the skin regularly to control mites. It can be also added to dust baths which is particularly effective.