Chickens love a good dust bath the way we humans love a jacuzzi. My husband built the girls an outdoor dust box years ago from some scrap wood. It is big enough for two chickens to use it at one time, deep enough to allow the birds to see all around them when they stand up, and there is a lip around the edge to keep the dust in while the birds flop around. I cover it with a big black tub to keep the dust dry and the wooden box protected from moisture that would cause it to rot.
The contents of the dust box is low after a long winter of use. The birds carry dust out of the box on their feathers and skin, and I scoop out some when I quickly strain out junk that builds up in the box, feathers, feces, and hay from the yard that they kick into the box while scratching around it energetically.
I had put a half a bag of play sand in the box last fall along with the last of my hardwood ash and a couple of cups of DE (diatomaceous earth). I recharged it with some sandy dirt from a construction project last fall in the front yard. I had saved a couple of five-gallon pails of the stuff, so I didn’t have to buy bagged sand–the price (free) and the dirt mixed into the sand made it just that much more desirable as dust box material. I also added a few cups of DE. To get more ash, I will have to start burning downed branches from our trees as soon as the snow melts and it dries out a bit.
The girls will still bathe in a scratched out hollow in the dirt of their yard every once in a while, but I like knowing that the ash and DE in the dust box are available to them to discourage the mites and lice the wild birds bring into the yard.
It’s fun watching the hens flop around inside the dust box. For entertainment value, nothing beats a chicken luxuriating. Begonia