Why are wood ashes so valuable for our chickens?

Wood ashes and charcoal remove impurities, as well as worms, from the body. Just like charcoal pills for humans, chickens can benefit greatly from the charred wood in their dust bath because they nibble on pieces of it while bathing. When they eat it, their droppings will be darker and tar blacker.

1.) In the sand bath – because the chickens must be able to wash their feathers in a tray made of a mixture of sand, ash and earth with a little diatomaceous earth to help them get rid of parasites like moths, mites, ticks, flies and fleas.

2.) As a dietary supplement – We have observed in the wild that after forest fires, animals gnaw and nibble on charred tree branches to cleanse and detoxify their digestive system and it also acts as a laxative. Ashes help to rid the body of toxins and intestinal parasites. Ashes contain an abundance of calcium and also a good source of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Adding a ration of 1% ash to your hens’ feed improves the quality and duration of laying. Ashes reduce the smell of droppings. Ashes from cedar, maple and oak woods have five times more nutrients than pine and softwoods.


3.) As a healing agent – Wood ashes have antibacterial properties. They can prevent infection of a wound and stop bleeding. When ingested, they provide vitamin K and prevent the formation of clots and could reverse the effects of coumadin in rat poison, for example.

4.) Keep a clean chicken house – Sprinkling ashes on the floor of your chicken house acts like baking soda and neutralizes bad odours while keeping your floor drier, because humidity is not good for chickens.

5.) To control impurities in the water – adding charcoal to the water prevents algae formation and bacterial growth by absorbing and filtering impurities while adding minerals to the water.

In the garden!

6.) As a garden fertilizer – because ashes are plant-based, they contain all the nutrients the soil needs for optimal growth. Wood ash has approximately 10 -25% calcium, 1-4% magnesium, 5-15% potassium and 1-3% phosphorus depending on the type of wood.

Note: It is always useful and recommended to have your soil tested before spreading too much ash in your vegetable gardens and flower beds. Most gardens like to have a phosphorus level between 6.5 and 7.5 and ashes will increase the alkalinity of your soil.

7.) To neutralize acidic soil – Wood ashes have the same properties as lime used in agriculture as a fertilizer. Since ashes are alkaline by nature, they will neutralize an acidic soil. Perfect for your plants that require non-acidic soil. Do not use in soils where you have rhododendrons, azaleas, strawberries, potatoes, squash and cucumbers.

8.) To feed plants that like alkaline soil – such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, celery, lettuce, peas etc. – to the soil.

9.) To keep away pests: sprinkle ashes around the plants to help keep slugs and snails away.

Around the house!

10.) To melt ice – because ashes contain potash, a type of salt: potassium carbonate, it will melt ice in an environmentally friendly way in your driveways and steps. It will not rust the metal and will not damage concrete and plaster. The ashes are safe for your animals. It certainly does a bit of damage, so you want to avoid putting some in places where you might enter the house.

11.) Remove the skunk smell from your dog – rubbing a little ash on your dog’s fur will neutralize the bad smells!

So, before you throw your ashes in the garbage, think about all the practical uses of ashes around the house, garden and chicken coop!

tamis cendres
poudre cendres
dust bath

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The book "Des poules dans ma cour"

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Caroline Tremblay
Caroline Tremblay
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Nancy Studer
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Mylène Ferron
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