If you have decided to have baby chicks, and you haven’t heard about chick dust, this might be an article for you. When we first purchased our chicks, I had heard about chick dust, but had never experienced it. Within the first few days of having a brooder full of fuzzy cuteness, I noticed a fine, thin layer of dust covering every surface in and around the brooder. I didn’t think too much of it since we opted to set up our brooder in the basement, and being that basements tend to be naturally dusty places (especially in old houses like ours), I really didn’t pay too much attention to it. A few days later, however, I noticed large, growing cobwebs of dust hanging from the rafters of the basement ceiling directly over the brooder. As our chicks have grown in size (considerably), the dust has become proportionately worse. Chicks love to scratch and flap their newly feathered wings, which only helps to stir up the dust, and now I have a thick layer of dust on nearly everything….and it’s only been three weeks! Apparently, this chick dust is no small matter!
In all of my research, I have not found any suggestions for how to deal with chick dust. There is no way to prevent it, either. If you have chicks, you will have chick dust. That’s the facts! This may not be a problem for many people, but if you happen to have allergies to dust, or other sinus problems, this chick dust will become problematic to you. I have learned that when I am around my chicks, whether I am feeding them, cleaning their bedding, or even just simply sitting and watching their antics, I must wear a dust mask. You can find them in Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply or any hardware store for just few dollars. Trust me, they are worth the money. It is difficult to enjoy your chicks if you are sneezing and coughing. I have also noticed that I require an additional antihistamine everyday. I know that in a few more weeks, our babies will be fully feathered, and will be able to move outside. In the meantime, I take precautions to avoid inhaling the dust.
On a more serious note, however, some people may become very ill from inhaling the dust, even if you do not have sinus troubles or allergies. Some of the articles I have read indicate that if the dust gets into your lungs, you can develop a respiratory infection called Pneumonitis. It is basically an infection of the air sacs in the lungs caused by inhaling an irritant of some sort, including dust. It is common for poultry farmers to develop this infection. The serious part is that if it is left untreated, it can actually cause irreversible damage to the lungs.
I certainly do not want to discourage anyone from raising chickens, but there are things that you should know in order to protect yourself and keep yourself well. You cannot have happy, healthy chickens, if you, yourself, are not healthy. Do yourself a favor and take the necessary precautions. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!