So I have to spill the beans... I am in love with Diatomaceous Earth and have been for years! Many people will look at me funny when I refer to it by it's official name, as it also commonly goes by plain ole' DE. It's abbreviation is surely easier to remember! Who knew that microscopic fossilized water plants (algae) could create a sedimentary mineral compound from it's skeletal remains, which are called diatoms. These amazing little plants have been part of the Earth's ecology since prehistoric times. These diatoms are harvested and ground up to a powder that resembles and feels like talcum powder. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural compound and nontoxic to all animals except insects. People even eat it and add it to their diets, so rest assured, it is even safe for human consumption!
There are a few different types of DE, they vary based on the way in which they are processed/treated, and I specifically use FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth ONLY! I warn of this because not all DE is edible! Some variants are used in industrial filtration systems, dynamite and things you would never want around your home or animals. The industrial grade DE is heated in order to form the crystals that make is very abrasive. if ingested or inhaled, industrial DE can cause some serious damage to your body or lungs, so make SURE to get FOOD GRADE.
I have always personally, used DE for many things on the farm! However, I most commonly administer it to my pet pigs as a natural pesticide and insect deterrent. I sprinkle it in their food, inside their enclosures and bedding, and even offer them a dust bath and brush it on to their skin/hair. For pink pigs that commonly suffer "eye rust" and other unsightly skin issues, DE can work wonders (coupled with proper biannual deworming practices, for swine that means using Ivermectin in the fall and spring). My pink pigs rarely ever suffer from eye rust or nasty skin issues when consistently offering them DE. It can also help with flaky, itchy and dry skin.
There are many other amazing uses for DE and although this is a pet pig blog, I feel that I should clue you in on how amazing this stuff really is and not limit our discussion to just pet pigs. Let me list out some things that DE works well on:
*Fleas: Dust your carpet, pet bedding, baseboards and any other cracks in the home. You can also dust your pets coat/hair/skin.
*Bedbugs: Take apart the bed and thoroughly dust the mattress, frame and all the cracks in the room.
*Flies: Thoroughly dust areas in which flies are frequent: walls, bedding and manure collection areas. Can also be applied to all livestock coats as a natural fly repellent.
*Carpet Beetles: Dust along all carpets and flooring, baseboards, under furniture, closets, all rugs and even shelving.
*Mites: Works especially well on chicken mites. Dust the coop, nests, housing, laying boxes and even set a large pan of it out for the chickens to dust themselves with (oh and they will do it voluntarily)!
It's nice to also report that many zoos have experimented with DE and it has proven very successful in providing the animals with healthier coats, cleaner and more clear eyes and their internal parasite load was smaller while administered routinely in the diet.
What other pests can DE conquer? The list is amazing! Here we go: sawfly, aphids, earwig, silverfish, ants, slugs/snails, twig borer, thrips, all mites, lice, spiders, crickets, cockroaches, coddling moth, fruit flies, pill bugs, ticks and even gnats. There are actually too many insects to list but there are a few of the most commonly seen varieties. If it has an exoskeleton, it can kill it!
So how does it work? Diatomaceous Earth is not poisonous and it doesn't have to be eaten to be effective. DE will cause an insects exoskeleton to dry up and die by absorbing the oils and fats within the skeleton's cuticle. It is abrasive to the insect, which helps kill it more quickly.
Like mentioned earlier, even people add DE to their diets! Many believe that it has benefits both externally and internally. Some of those health benefits include: hair, nails, skin, teeth, ligaments, joints, bones, cartilage, muscles and even aids in bowel movements. Did you know DE is also used in beer filtering because it doesn't compromise its body, color and flavor? Most toothpaste boasts it as well.
Although there are many uses for DE and quite frankly I think it is the most cheap and easy answer to pests on the farm and in the home, you still need to use caution and avoid inhaling it, even the food grade. It is a fine powder that can agitate the airways. Some people it bothers and some it doesn't, if you have allergies or tend to be more sensitive, I recommend using a cheap mask. Can be a medical mask or those found for woodworking or shops. Seriously though, if you haven't been blessed enough to have DE in your life yet, I recommend jumping on the wagon! You wont be disappointed!
~Visit the official animal DE supplier Red Lake Earth at: http://www.redlakeearth.com/red-lake-diatomaceous-earth-us.html
~Visit the official food grade Diatomaceous Earth website to learn more about it and its many uses: https://www.diatomaceousearth.com
*DISCLAIMER: Any food grade diatomaceous earth uses other than those approved by the EPA, FDA, or USDA are strictly based on what others reportedly have tried themselves. The information contained within is not intended as a substitute for a veterinarian’s advice, nor is it a substitute for your best judgment.
The Hog Blog...
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