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Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

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Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby powerjen » 30 May 2012, 18:50

Hi, I have some chicks who are nearly 3 weeks old.

They've been going outside since they were a few days old in a pen outside on the grass and for the last week they've just started preening themselves and attempting to dust bath.

As they've been outside and on the grass I thought that I'd get some DE and put it in a dust bath as well as sand and wood ash as so far they've been scuffing about in their easibed trying to dustbath.

So, I got some DE today from Oak Tree Poultry (says it is feed grade and can be given internally and externally), I've put probably about 3 tablespoons into 5kg of their feed (which I've not given them yet) and made up a dust bath of 1 part each of DE, sand and ash.

Both chicks who I've seen dust bath in it have got up after bathing with a weakness in one of their legs, they've got up, sat down with their claws curled under them on one leg, but after a minute or two and a quick check over by me they've been fine again. Do you think that they've just been over doing it whilst dustbathing when they lie on their sides and kick about? It is an old metal baking dish so maybe they've kicked out and made themselves sore?

Am I too early to give them access to DE? I've removed the dust bath from their pen and not given them the feed with the DE mixed in yet - perhaps I'm being a bit too keen to put them on it but thought as they were going outside it would be a preventative for them. I think it's just coincidence that they've had leg weaknesses and I've got DE in the dust bath?

Sorry for all the questions! Hope it all makes sense. Thanks very much indeed.
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby jemma » 30 May 2012, 20:44

not sure that would cause a problem. I have some DE from oak tree poultry and I dusted my girls with it before I set them in the broody pen I also have DE generously sprinkled in the bedding in those pens where my chicks are and I have noticed no problem. Maybe someone else will have an opinion
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby powerjen » 30 May 2012, 22:02

Hi Jemma

Thanks for the reply and certainly makes me feel better that you're using it with chicks without a problem. I've not given them their dust bath back yet though, they're having to make do with the bedding for now.
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby chuck1 » 30 May 2012, 23:01

Can't think why anyone would want to feed things like that internally, especially young stock.
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby sbeau66 » 30 May 2012, 23:21

i don't know if it works as a wormer or not, i can't tell if its dodgy or not, it reminds me of asbestos when you read how it works, i use it in the nestboxes under the straw, to keep rm away, but i'm still reluctant to add it to feed,,, has anyone?
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby powerjen » 31 May 2012, 11:52

Diatomaceous Earth like many 'natural products' come in a variety of guises, some of them good and some not so you have to do your research to ensure what you're buying is not harmful. If the item is sold as food/feed grade then it is safe for human and animal/livestock consumption and use. There is a type of DE on the market which is used in pool cleaning, it is heated to very high temperatures to create a crystalline structure and various chemicals are added, this type is not suitable for human/animal use and labelling is marked to say so, but if buying over the internet then you have to be sure of what you're buying. The Pool type DE is harmful and if breathed in is carcinogenic - it is both the chemicals it contains and the crystalline structure which make it toxic. Food Grade DE (also known as Fossil Shell Flour) is the pure fossilised rock very finely ground into a flour like consistency, it contains microscopic sharp 'shards' of millions of dead hard celled algae called Diatoms. These shards attach to anything with an exoskeleton, as they continue to move about the shards cut into the exoskeleton damaging the insect and making it dehydrate and then die. Food grade DE has a variety of uses, you can sprinkle it on your bed to rid yourself of bed bugs, on your pets to prevent ticks and fleas and in bedding to help prevent red mite etc. There are no chemicals in it, it is purely made effective by the mechanical action of the shards attaching to the exoskeleton and damaging it.

People also take it internally and there are proven benefits to taking it. Studies have shown Diatomaceous Earth to significantly lower cholesterol by removing plaque and keeping arteries and veins supple. It also helps to regulate blood pressure. DE contains Silica which has been proven to be vital to our survival. It can make hair thicker and nails stronger, but it also helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus. New studies are finding that silica may be more important for our bones than calcium and that it plays a major role in the healing of osteoporosis. Here is an excerpt from a proven medical study which says taking it internally by humans actually lowers cholesterol... http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9533930

It is recommended that you do not inhale too much of the dust that is produced from food grade DE, this isn't because it is carcinogenic like the crystalline substances of Pool Grade DE or Asbestos, these are totally different substances. It is not good for anyone to breathe in any amount of dust for prolonged periods - be it chalk dust, house dust, sawdust, dust from wheat/grain etc etc and a mask should be used in very dusty situations otherwise if you breathe in too much dust whatever type over a period of time may cause lung problems.

My initial question was linked to the fact that the chicks using the dust bath with newly added DE both had leg problems immediately after using it and I wondered if anyone had seen this and made me wonder if it was some reaction to the DE as it was certainly a worrying coincidence. Now I'm guessing it was just them getting carried away and overdoing it, almost like a cramp and had nothing to do with the DE in it.

I don't usually start using new things until I've thoroughly read up on it and now that I have done much more research today I'm quite happy to carry on using it as I'd intended. I have been using Colloidal Silver on myself and my animals for the last ten years with amazing results and my chicks have been having it since they were hatched. Most people who haven't researched it would probably say that this is something I shouldn't be using either. Maybe this post will encourage others to try DE, or I've just wasted 20 mins writing a reply to tell people more about it and how it is a good and not a bad thing! I'm satisfied though and that's the main thing.
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby sbeau66 » 31 May 2012, 22:48

interesting, thanks for your huge effort, I bought my DE, from scats countrystore and it was in the section where the poultryshield, and flubenvet is, how can i tell if it is the foodgrade or the other not good DE, and where can you get the human stuff? as my DH has high chloeserol and the plaque that you mention has got so bad in his leg arteries that he now needs 2 angioplasty, perhaps some DE would prevent this happening again to him, go on convince me its ok to use other than a sprinkle in their beds
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Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby Alchemist » 01 Jun 2012, 08:29

I've got 'diatom powder' from wells poultry. It's not labelled food grade but for red mite control for poultry so it probably is standard food grade DE.

For anyone interested I examined it under the microscope to check it was what it said it was.

It does contain lots of diatoms but also other things which I can't specifically identify, might just be damaged diatoms or residue from the source.

The pics are on my microscopy blog here:

http://mikemicroscopepics.wordpress.com/

Also, here's an electron microscope pic of some diatoms, which are really intricate - much better than I can get on my microscope.
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Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby Alchemist » 01 Jun 2012, 08:39

Something else powerjen...

DE is added to grain stores on farms to kill bugs that would otherwise eat the grain. It therefore ends up in what we eat in small amounts already.
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby chuck1 » 01 Jun 2012, 09:15

Alchemist wrote:Something else powerjen...

DE is added to grain stores on farms to kill bugs that would otherwise eat the grain. It therefore ends up in what we eat in small amounts already.


Now I find that very interesting and perhaps the most convincing information that this stuff actually might work.
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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby humblehen » 01 Jun 2012, 12:57

Very interesting microscope pictures Alchemist :thumbright:
I am very tempted to buy this now but one thing has got me thinking :scratch: ...the diatoms consist of 80-90% silica and say If it was to be taken internally by a human, then surely the strongly acidic hydrochloric acid in the stomach would react the the intricate silica structure of the diatom changing its structure and create a different compound.
I have a limited knowledge of chemistry so perhaps someone could explain this to me... #-o
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Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby Alchemist » 01 Jun 2012, 20:51

Acid can etch glass which is silica so it's a good point. I don't know if it would change it to a different compound but it might change the diatoms shape.

I emailed the manufacturer of my powder and asked if diatom powder is the same thing as DE and is it food grade. This was the reply:

Dear Mike,

Thanks for your enquiry re Diatom.

In Short, yes our powder is diatomaceous earth. Also, it is food grade and complies fully with FEMAS (Feed Materials Assurance Scheme).

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us

Yours sincerely



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Re: Chicks & Diatomaceous Earth/Dust Bath Query

Postby powerjen » 03 Jun 2012, 18:25

Hi Alchemist, I love your microscopic pics of your DE, I could while away far too many hours checking that out with my DE so probably a good job I've not got a microscope. Really good to be able to see what DE consists of. I know of the DE being added to grain to prevent it getting eaten by weevils etc but I wonder how much we actually ingest as I'd think that the grain goes through a fair few cleaning processes before it gets processed and passed into the food chain, but it certainly does show that it must be ok for us to ingest if it's being added to such things.

Sbeau66, glad you found the info useful. I'd mail the manufacturer you got the DE from and ask if it's food grade. Apparently the best stuff is the more grey coloured powders, the whiter the product the more silica it has in it and it's less effective. I think it's certainly something that I'll be trying. Certainly Oak Tree Poultry told me that they have customers who buy it for their own use rather than for livestock. Oak Trees stuff seems very reasonable too. Some of this stuff is extortionate!

Humblehen, I'm no chemist but I found this on the net which seems to say that stomach acid actually increases the effectiveness of taking DE:

"Silica is essential to the body, especially for the production of structural proteins including collagen and elastin. Structural proteins help give strength and elasticity to the hair, nails, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, blood vessel walls, etc.

The body does not absorb and utilize silica in the form of silicon dioxide. Instead, silica reacts with water to form small amounts of orthosilicic acid (OA), which is absorbed by both plants and animals for the formation of tissues. Although OA is not “silica” (silicon dioxide) in the scientific sense it is still referred to as silica. Especially when referring to OA in plants.

The presence of acid increases the conversion of silica in to OA. In the body the primary acid source is stomach acid. Stomach acid declines with age though. This decreases the body’s ability to produce and absorb OA leading to loss of tissue integrity and elasticity frequently associated with “aging disorders”. The use of acid blockers or antacids such as acid heartburn medications, coral, dolomite, oyster shell or alkaline waters can further inhibit the production and absorption of OA.

Anything can be toxic is sufficient quantities or if used improperly. DE is only toxic though if inhaled repeatedly over long periods of time, which can lead to silicosis. This is actually a potential problem with other silica sources as well such as clays, which are formed from the weathering of silica containing rocks. Ingested DE has not been shown to be harmful though. In fact, DE has a long history of use in silica supplements and being ingested to eliminate intestinal worms in animals and people with no adverse effects.

The reason DE kills intestinal worms without harming the intestinal wall is simple. Intestinal worms have much thinner and delicate tissues than the human digestive system. Worms therefore are prone to the abrasive effects of DE, unlike the human gastrointestinal tract. In fact, DE is considerably less abrasive than the fibers we ingest in our diets.
DE is only slightly abrasive being more like ultrafine sandpaper used for polishing. For this reason it is commonly used in toothpaste to safely clean teeth."


So, I think that whilst some of the DE would be made into this OA and be absorbed by the body into the blood stream and you'd see benefits of the lowered cholesterol, stronger hair and nails etc, the remaining DE that isn't turned into OA will still be processed through the intestines, 'polishing' as it goes. As you mention glass is made from silica and I guess the ability of acid to etch glass is just it breaking the silica down, just the same as the stomach does with DE. It is the same as any supplements that we take - the body will take as much of it as it needs - this isn't necessarily due to our bodies being able to intelligently know how much it needs it is perhaps more due to how long the supplement takes to pass through the stomach/intestines and the body absorbs what it can whilst it can, that's why regular dosing of these things is important so that the body can keep regularly absorbing it whilst the remainder is excreted and in the case of DE, the remainder is what will detox your intestine and any livestock you may wish to also feed it to.
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