Chicken dust can drive you crazy. It is that fine white powder that works its way into every crevice and surface it can find. If you keep brooder chicks in your house, you will find chicken dust all over your home. Your outdoor coops can be very dusty as well to the point of making you gag every time you enter .the front door.
Chicken dust and poultry dust are different things. Chicken dust is a mixture of chicken feed, bedding material, bird droppings and feathers and dander from a chicken. Poultry dust is a chemical powder that you buy and use in your coop and on your bird to prevent mites and lice. We will be discussing chicken dust in this article.
There are four main things that can cause chicken dust. The first is made by chickens themselves and it is the number one cause of the dust. This is chicken dander. Dander is microscopic flakes of dried dead and shed skin. It can also come from the shafts of their feathers. Because chicks grow quickly, their skin cells are constantly turning over and shed off of their bodies. If your chicks are less than 18 weeks old they are constantly molting and growing feathers. The cuticle that sheathes the pinfeathers as they emerge, break off and contribute to the dust. Any age chicken that is going through a molt is creating more chicken dust than they usually would.
The second creator of chicken dust is chicken feed. If you are using crumbles such as chick starter, the fines (very fine, ground up dust from feed) are seen in your dish and at the bottom of your bag when you shake it out. As the chicks eat the food, they break it up into small pieces which fall into the feeding dish and create dust. Using a pellet form of food for adult birds will help cut down on the dust from the feed. Moving feeders outside will keep the dust from accumulating in the coop.
A third dust creator is is dry chicken poo. As it becomes hard and dry it can start to break down and become dust. Birds walking on it can help to make smaller pieces which leads to dust. I try and scoop up poo from outside in the run and inside the coop whenever I see chunks of it. I like the Activarmr gloves for this and all chicken jobs. They are flexible for picking things up and the bottoms are waterproof. Picking up poo keeps things looking cleaner and gets rid potential dust.
The last dust maker is from bedding. Pine shavings can be very dusty if you are buying the small flakes. Small flakes can be very powdery and very saw dust lik. Try to buy large flakes or a dust free bedding. Some bedding becomes dusty as it decomposes such as pine needles, straw and hay.
Dust in the house is a real nuisance. One way to prevent it is to keep your brooder in the garage and clean the brooder regularly. Incubators inside the home attract a lot of dust due to hatching. Besides regular cleaning after use, us an air hose to blow out dust around the fan to keep the incubator in good working order. I use a feather duster to dust everywhere dust has accumulated inside on flat surfaces such as heat lamps hoods. Other dusters such as microfiber dusters are great for those hard to get at spots.
I have a Neato robotic vacuum which I just love. Neato vacuums my entire house everyday. He helps me to be a better housekeeper by keeping extra things off of the floor so that he has more room to vacuum. This has led me to removing unneeded things off of tables and shelves so that I am able to dust faster and easier.
One other thing I have in the house is an air purifier. We keep ours in the room where we do incubation and hatching. I keep the door to this room closed to keep the dust centralized.
If you have been out to our place, you know that we have our chick room off the garage. This winter we installed an air exchange with filter. It is filtering and exhausting air to the outside of the house. This also helps to reduce the humidity created by all of those little chicks breathing and reduces odor. The chicken dust is trapped by the filter.
In the outdoor coops we always leave every window and door open all year round so that the dust can find its way outside. We installed turbine ventilators in the roof to draw air out and cool things down. Fans in the windows also blows unwanted dust out.
When I begin to clean the coops outside, I first remove all of the old bedding and empty it out. Then you can use a shop vac or a leaf blower to remove accumulated dust on the walls and ceiling. Make sure that the windows and doors are wide open so that the dust can be blown out. Wait ten minutes so that the dust in the air has settled and then wipe everything down with a wet cloth using a sanitizer such as Oxivir or a coop cleaner. For more information about cleaning a chicken coop check out this blog.
Always wear protective masks and eye wear when cleaning the chicken coop. There is such a thing as occupational asthma for people who work in the poultry industry. Always protect your airways with disposable face masks. You should also wear safety glasses to keep the dust out of your eyes. Your health is important.
For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center at VJPPoultry.com . VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul. We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available. Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.
Victoria J. Peterson