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 Post subject: DIATOMACEOUS EARTH
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 7:03 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Location: Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria
This is from the Greenpet Spring Newsletter: Diatomaceous Earth.
What is it? DE is a remarkable, all natural product made from tiny fossilized water plants. DE is a naturally occurring siliceous sedimentary mineral compound from microscopic skeletal remains of unicellular algae-like plants called diatoms. These plants have been part of the earth's ecology since prehistoric times. 30 million years ago the diatoms built up into deep, chalky deposits of diatomite. The diatoms are mined and ground up to render a powder that looks and feels like talcum powder to us. It is a mineral based pesticide. DE is approximately 3% magnesium, 33% silicon, 19% calcium, 5% sodium, 2% iron, and many other trace minerals such as titanium, boron, manganese, copper and zirconium.
It is 100% ecologically safe to the environment and non-poisonous to man and beast. In fact, if you've eaten anything made with flour, you've most likely eaten DE. It's used in commercial grain storage as a means of natural, poison-free, insect control.
Are there any safety concerns with DE?
Although it is totally non-toxic to ingest, you must wear a dust mask when applying it as it can irritate the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth. If adding it to feed, avoid breathing in the dust and use a well ventilated area to mix into moist food before feeding. Once the DE dust has settled it won't bother you.
Animal Use - suggested feeding and application rates:
Horses - 1/2 to 1 cup in feed daily
Dogs - 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily in food
Cats - 1 teaspoon daily in food
Chickens - 5% in feed
Goats - 1% in grain feed
DE can be used as a dust or spray for control of flies and other insects in buildings, on pastures, crops and trees.
Insect control - suggested application rates:
Dusting - For crops and pastures use 6 to 18 kg per hectare (6-10 kg in calm air). Dust after rain, overhead irrigation, or after a heavy dew to increase sticking of the powder. Dust plant upward from the ground, covering all stems, top and underside of leaves. For enclosed area use 1/2 to 3/4 pound per 1000 square feet. Sprinkle in areas where ants and roaches are present or areas in which they run, such as baseboards, under sinks etc.
As a spray:
Mix two pounds per gallon of water with a wetting agent. Rates as low as 1/4 pound per 5 gallons water with a wetting agent have been effective. Be sure to keep mixture agitated.
Trees:
Sprinkle liberally on the ground and around tree trunks. Tree trunks can also be painted with a mixture of DE, water, flax soap or a wetting agent. This will inhibit migration of various fruit flies (maggot stage), worms and the Japanese Beetle (grub stage). When a spray is desired, refer to spray rates.
Greenpet sell DE in 1kg bags.

I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone on BYP who has used DE with their chooks. So far I have only sprinkled some on the ground in their pen to deter flies etc. :) Judy


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:15 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Judy, do you find that it works to deter the flies? Thanks, Leesa :D


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:25 am 
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Champion Bird
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Judy...I would absolutely make sure that it is FOOD GRADE DE....before you add it to your chooks food....this as you know is the only grade safe for chooks...no I don't know anyone in Oz that uses it...Could I ask how much it cost?
cheers
Looloo :)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 3:33 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Hi Leesa and Looloo, I've only used DE in the chook pen once and I did notice a reduction in fly numbers over a couple of days. But flies come in "hatches" so there might be lots for a few days and then not so many for a bit, and so on. So I'm not sure the DE caused the reduction, but I'll use it there from time to time and see what happens. I'm not planning to add DE to my chooks' feed until I've spoken to someone else who does this. I actually bought it for the garden but haven't used it there yet as the pests and predators seem to be in balance for the time being :D . I bought the DE from the vet suppliers Greenpet, so it is safe for use with animals. You can buy it online for $22 per kilo plus postage (www.greenpet.com.au). Greenharvest also sell it but their's is sold for garden use so it may not be food grade. I know it's used in biodynamic agriculture...I'll try to find out more. Cheers :) Judy


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 3:47 pm 
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Champion Bird
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I just found this article on google which is a convincing argument against using DE in chook feed. There's lots on the internet about it. I also emailed Greenpet to ask for further info. But at this stage I'm not giving it to my lovely precious chookies!! Judy
THE DIRT ON DIATOMACEOUS EARTH

'DE'

by K. J. Theodore
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (DE) is not ‘dirt’. In plain English it is naturally occurring crystalline silica, found in the earth. Another understandable description would be razor sharp microscopic diatoms (the crystalline silica skeletons of prehistoric aquatic plants) with intricate geometric forms - think microscopic snowflakes. The breakdown properties of diatoms in our environment are similar to that of glass. No type of acid will break it down - so it is not broken down in the digestive tract. (Hydrofluoric acid will break it down but that is extremely poisonous.)

Although there is some discussion as to whether DE is largely noncrystalline, samples can be found to contain varying amounts of crystalline quartz, so for the purpose of this article, I’ll assume we cannot guarantee that all DE purchased for the purpose of using as a natural parasite control agent, isn’t crystalline in nature – and therein lies a certain risk.

The use of DE has become quite common among both fanciers and backyard flock owners for a variety of things, such as a natural insecticide, a natural wormer, and to control odors. I’ve seen suggested uses from mixing it right into poultry feed for ingestion to sprinkling it down on the floor prior to adding new bedding. There is more than one form of DE. ‘Food grade’ is usually the only version recommended for use with poultry. Other grades are for use in things such as swimming pool filters.

DE works as an insecticide by making microscopic cuts in the flesh of a worm, which in turn, makes the worm dehydrate and die. By using it in the feed, fanciers believe that the DE becomes a natural wormer by killing the worms in the gut by the same method. However, I have heard this disputed by some Veterinarians. In theory, if the microscopic cuts on the worms, and the subsequent dehydration were the reason for the parasite’s death, then it would stand to reason that DE would not be effective in the gut. Since the gut is a moist environment, the worms would not dehydrate.

Fanciers also believe that DE controls odors in the pen when sprinkling it about prior to laying down new bedding. And it is often added as one of the ingredients in a homemade dust bath for chickens.

I have some concerns about the use of DE that I would like to share with you. The further research and decision to use it or not is strictly up to you. I personally do not use it, but I know many fanciers who swear by it. My concern is that there seems to be a general consensus out there that would indicate that most people believe this to be a ‘natural’ product with no health risks. My desire is to give you some things to consider on the down side – since all I have seen has been on the up side.

First, by its very nature and structure, once ingested or inhaled, I don’t believe that the bird can expel this material easily, if at all. It is considered a serious human health risk if inhaled, and exposure to it occupationally has been the subject of much controversy with OSHA and NIOSH. It is believed to cause diseases such as lung cancer (silicosis), and carries some of the same risks as exposure to asbestos. You should never breath the dust created by DE if you work with it around your birds – wear a mask if you do.

DE absorbs 1.5 to 4 times its weight of water and also has an extremely high absorption rate of oils. Food grade DE is commonly used to keep things dry and from ‘clumping’, as in pancake and cake flour, etc. Industrial grade DE has been used to control or absorb large spills. Mixed into the poultry feed for ingestion, I would imagine that DE could have the same affect. I am concerned that it could rob your bird of needed hydration, and oil based vitamin supplements, etc. A loss of hydration can be a serious event for any bird, but especially a hen in production. An accumulation of DE in the crop or the gut has the potential of causing a blockage.

I am not sure how effective DE can be to control internal parasites, but I am concerned about its use on an otherwise fragile bird that may be suffering from a mild case of coccidiosis or bacterial enteritis, in which cases the intestinal lining would already be raw and fragile. I would imagine that the DE could become a further irritant under those circumstances. A gloriously healthy bird with a great gut may be in no danger whatsoever, but I know from poultry health studies that many gut infections go largely undetected by the fancier.

For the same reason that it is recommended by OSHA that a dust mask or respirator be worn when working with DE, I do not recommend its use for a bird’s dust bath. They would be breathing in the silica at an alarming rate, and I don’t believe they can absorb or expel the vast majority of what they’ve brought in. This may explain some of the cases of asthma-like breathing that can occur in poultry with no apparent illness or treatment success.

It may be very true that the use of DE in the pen under bedding is a great odor control agent, but again, one must consider the fact that chickens scratch and create ‘dust’ – which both you and your birds breathe – perhaps without even knowing that it is floating in the air.

I realize that this subject will bring some debate by those who believe in DE religiously. I understand your commitment to the product. The purpose of this article is simply to make sure that those who have made a conscious decision to use DE, have done so after considering the risks. In many cases, it may in fact prove to be very effective in the short term. However, I receive more and more email from fanciers who would like not only good health for their birds, but also long life – and I believe that the use of DE is counterproductive to that goal.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:47 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Location: Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria
Just posted (in Good Samaritan MC) the links Greenpet provided re sites with more info about DE - still nothing local. Leesa on further reading it seems the DE affects fly larvae laid on the ground or in straw etc. So any reduction in numbers would only be seen over the timespan of the fly life cycle (which I have no idea of!!). Sounds like it would be effective, but need to be careful about the dust - always wearing a mask when spreading it. Is it worth it :? Judy


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:42 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Location: SE Qld
Thanks Judy :D I think I will give it a go as the fly population is starting to get out of hand! :roll:


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