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Backyard Chicken Care

A red chicken stands on some stumps after taking a dust bath in diatomaceous earth.

If you want your backyard chickens to lead healthy, happy lives – Diatomaceous Earth is a must-have for anyone who owns a coop and has a flock of feathered friends.

What is DE (Diamotacious Earth), and how can it help my chickens?

Food-Grade diatomaceous earth contains finely ground and processed fossilized algae commonly called diatoms.

DE has a whole array of benefits for poultry’s health, from absorbing odor-causing moisture, to increasing the strength of their egg’s shells. Diatoms are essentially very fine, abrasive particles with sharp edges that have natural absorption capabilities. When chickens excrete, the resulting manure is rich in nitrogen, especially the chicken’s equivalent of urine – uric acid. When the manure then becomes wet, the nitrogen decomposes and produces a gas called ammonia, which gives off a pungent smell. Adding DE to your backyard chicken care routine will make for happy, healthy chickens.

How do I use DE with my chickens?

Absorbent Products has produced several Diamotacious Earth products specially formulated for use with your backyard chicken coop.

To Help Control Odor

Activated Barn Fresh, Fresh Coop Odor Control available in both a resealable bag or jug with shaker lid. It is a safe and easy way to manage the ammonia odor and moisture levels present in your chicken coop.

Sprinkling your Diamotacious Earth over the freshly cleaned floor of your coop before laying down new litter is a safe and effective way to capture the moisture that naturally collects there.

To Aid In Preening Maintenance

Absorbent Product’s Fresh Coop Dust Bath encourages your flock’s natural daily preening maintenance. Keep their feathers in tip-top condition by promoting and enhancing their natural dust bathing behavior. 

Sprinkle a layer of DE over your chicken’s dirt and sand tub, and let the chickens work it in. As the chickens play and roll around in the dust bath, they will cover themselves with the DE infused sand. Fresh Coop Dust Bath is composed of Food Chemical Codex Grade (Food Grade) Diatomaceous Earth and Calcium Montmorillonite. This unique natural blend of Diatomaceous Earth helps to keep feathers clean by absorbing excess oils.

To Lay Strong, Beautiful Eggs

Fresh Coop Egg-Layer Grit is our soluble chicken grit that is essential for healthy, beautiful eggs. Soft, thin, or missing eggshells are a sign that your layers are calcium deficient. A proper egg-laying diet will ensure they’re getting the calcium they need while allowing you total control over their feed. Fresh Coop Egg-Layer Grit offers an excellent, natural source rich in calcium for chickens.

For chickens that are over 18 weeks old, Fresh Coop Egg-Layer Grit can be mixed with coarse grain or free-choice. Grit is designed to help the chickens’ digestive system function well and break down the food as it should. The grit also helps grind down the food in the gizzard, keeping their digestive system happy!

Are there disadvantages to using diatomaceous Earth?

There are a few things that will affect the overall usefulness of Diatomaceous Earth that you need to keep in mind.

  • Unfortunately, Diatomaceous Earth can become less effective when wet. Limiting use to inside the coop means that you will mitigate problems in areas with higher natural moisture levels. Proper storage is vital.
  • When using a deep litter system, be aware that DE is unable to distinguish between good parasites and harmful parasites. Using DE with a deep litter system means it will disable your deep litter system’s processes.

Diatomaceous earth is a remarkable and versatile poultry product for any backyard chicken coop enthusiast. Regardless of the size of your flock, you will be able to reap the benefits of Diatomaceous Earth each day for your chicken! 

For customers in the USA – To purchase any of our Absorbent Product’s Fresh Coop products, please visit our US distribution page to find the retailer nearest to you. 

For customers in Canada – Fresh Coop products can be purchased on amazon.ca or please give us a call at 1-800-667-0336 or email us at info@absorbentproductsltd.com. We would be happy to help!

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Protecting the Harvest

Protecting the Havrvest

GRAIN STORAGE AND DIATOMACEOUS EARTH

Fall is upon us once again.  For millennia, this season of harvest means it’s time to store the summer’s abundance for a long dark winter ahead.  People have used granaries for over eleven thousand years; archaeological excavations in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea have revealed storage structures at least that old.  In today’s world, grain storage can vary between a few pounds and several thousand tonnes, depending on the facility.  Large or small, grain storage can pose problems that are minimized by careful planning and preparation.

Structural hygiene is an important first step in good grain management.  Buildings, structures and grain bins should be well-maintained and inspected regularly for signs of pest intrusion and excess moisture problems. Eliminating weeds and shrubbery from the outside of granaries will reduce pest harborages. Sealing any cracks and crevices in and around grain bins is crucial to prevent intruders. 

One of the biggest threats to successful grain storage is excess moisture, according to the University of Kentucky – College of Agriculture.  Wet or damp grain will rot, and spoilage can spread quickly throughout a bin. The Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia recommends treating stored grains with diatomaceous earth (DE) as a protective measure. 

Using DE has the dual advantage of controlling both moisture and insects.   The microscopic porous structure of DE is sponge-like, absorbing moisture from grains. This absorbent property is also effective as an insecticide.  The mode of action is mechanical, not chemical; DE kills the insects by desiccation, after abrading their waxy exoskeletons.

The use of diatomaceous earth can reduce or eliminate the need for strong chemical fumigants.  These insecticidal gases are very useful for grain protection.  However, they are toxic, must be applied by trained professionals, and can only be used after an infestation has occurred. DE treatments can help prevent insects, and in turn the need for fumigation.  In cases like this, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

Interestingly, our long tradition of grain storage has had a profound side effect for human-animal relationships.  It is widely theorized that wild cats first became accustomed to humans via rodent-hunting around grain bins. Both species soon realized the advantages of cooperation: cats provide the pest control and in return are rewarded with shelter, protection and affection.  The human-feline love affair has continued since.

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Cleaning up diatomaceous earth

Cleaning Up Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an effective, safe insecticide product for getting rid of unwanted pests like bed bugs, fleas, and other crawling insects. Since diatomaceous earth does not have an expiration date, placing the DE in areas where insects may gather and where you would not necessarily notice the product such as crawl spaces, cracks and crevices, behind baseboards and . Once the diatomaceous earth has dehydrated the exoskeleton of these insects, you can remove the DE by following the easy steps below:

First, clean up may not actually be necessary, as many people will leave diatomaceous earth in and around their homes for indefinite amounts of time. Diatomaceous earth will continue to be effective as long as it remains dry. Leaving it alone works best when it is used in inconspicuous, out of the way areas like wall voids, crawl spaces, behind baseboards, and inside cupboards. In areas that you would like to clean up, try some of the following tips:

Before starting to clean, remember that although DE is considered safe to use around pets and humans, like any other dust, it may be irritating to eyes and lungs in large amounts. Many people suggest wearing a mask and glasses when cleaning up for this reason.

Carpets, Rugs, or Other Soft Surfaces

Diatomaceous earth is often used to control bed bugs, so it may be spread on carpets, bedding, rugs, and other upholstered items. Clean up of these types of surfaces is often best achieved by vacuuming the diatomaceous earth. Since DE is a sand material, it can be abrasive to vacuum cleaners with filters. You don’t want to destroy your vacuum cleaner, so it is recommended that you use a shop vac or filterless vacuum. Shop vacs are great because they have powerful suction and can handle the DE without any problem. If you decide to use a filterless vacuum, go about it slowly so that it does not clog your machine. If you still do not feel like the area is clean, after vacuuming thoroughly, you can use a carpet cleaner to finish the job.

Hard Floors

Hard surfaces like tile, hardwood, granite, cement, etc. are fairly easy to clean up. Using a damp towel or a mop, you can simply just wipe the excess away. When you are applying diatomaceous earth, it should be just a fine dusting of product, so wiping it up should not be difficult. After wiping, you can shake off the towel outside or in a garbage can, and then wash it.

The other option for cleaning DE from hard surfaces is to sweep it up. If sweeping is causing a lot of dust in the air, you can use a spray bottle with water to lightly moisten the diatomaceous earth so that the particles won’t become airborne so easily. After sweeping, just throw it away.

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Can A Mining Company Truly Be ‘Green’?

open pit mining

In a word – yes!  Just like our friend Kermit sings, being green ain’t easy…but it’s big, and it’s important.

Absorbent Products strives to be green by lessening our environmental impact wherever possible. We achieve this through careful planning and continuous improvements in our properties, our plant, and our products.

Our properties include 4 different mine sites in 2 countries from which we source our raw minerals.  These are dry-mine surface operations with no runoff or tailings to contaminate the undeveloped areas in which they are located.  Waste is minimized as we use over 98% of the mined materials.  All our mines conform to air quality and environmental regulations.  Reclaimed areas of our Red Lake property have been restored ahead of schedule and are now used as productive grazeland for cattle.

In our plant, we are always chasing the next efficiency.  We meet or exceed our prescribed air quality standards.  Upgrades to our machinery and optimization of our burner have allowed us to significantly reduce our consumption of both electricity and natural gas. Through process analysis and design we have minimized forklift and motor vehicle movement throughout our facility, further reducing emissions. We influence our customers, many of whom are large-volume national retailers, to reduce packaging and choose options that have lower environmental footprints for their brands.

You’ll find a wide spectrum of uses and applications throughout our products, from pest control to animal feed additives to livestock health management.  All our products are derived from natural, minimally processed minerals. Many of them are registered for organic agriculture; in fact, Absorbent Products has 28 different listings with the Organic Materials Review Institute and proudly supplies large organic operations.

Our PMRA- and EPA-registered insecticides are organic-appropriate and work through a mechanical mode of action rather than a chemical one.  As a result, insects do not develop a pesticide resistance, and there are no harmful residues lingering after treatment.  Non-toxic diatomaceous earth products like Stall Dry, Fresh Coop and Barn Fresh control odour and moisture in stalls and pens, making both animals and their human caretakers more comfortable and improving the retention of nutrients when composted after use.  Some of our items are even repurposed from other materials.  For example, our Wundercat and Stall Dry pine pellets are made of reclaimed waste wood, and our Can Blast blasting medium is comprised of ground recycled glass.

At Absorbent Products, sustainability and stewardship are defining values.  We are proud to be green, and we continue to invest in research and development so we can provide the very best products with the smallest environmental impact.

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That TICK-lish Feeling

ticks can cause lime disease and rocky mountain fever

Enjoying the great outdoors is popular with millions of North Americans. Our vast continent is blessed with an abundance of wilderness and there are lots of different ways to experience it. One downside to outdoor activity is picking up unwanted hangers-on…like little arachnid hitchhikers!

We are speaking, of course, about ticks. Although the tick family has many different subspecies, they all have several characteristics in common. Being arachnids like spiders, ticks have eight legs instead of six. They do not jump or fly. All ticks rely on blood for food. Most often this is mammalian blood, but ticks are also known to parasitize birds, reptiles and some amphibians. If a tick cannot find a wild host, it will move on its the next best opportunity, which is often a human or pet. Once a tick attaches itself to a host, it will consume from 200 to 600 times its own body weight in blood, growing many times its size in the process. Some ticks secrete a cement-like substance to help them attach to their host for a longer feed.

Not only unpleasant, ticks can also carry diseases, most of them bacterial. Lyme disease has gained a great deal of media attention, but other illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can also result from tick bites. However, these diseases are not transmitted immediately, so early removal of the tick can be key in preventing illness.

Preventative steps can be taken to minimize the chance of tick bites. Around the home, keep lawns clipped short and garbage secure. Reduce or eliminate clutter and objects where rodents may nest and discourage wildlife on your property as much as possible. Where there is wildlife, there will be ticks! Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled in a light layer around the entire perimeter of the home to prevent any ticks (and other crawling insects) from entering. Diatomaceous earth is a physical insecticide that kills invertebrates like arachnids by desiccation.

When out of doors, wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants; not only does this make the dark ticks more visible, it will help prevent bites. Check people and animals thoroughly and frequently when outside and after coming home; especially around faces, feet and wherever the skin folds. For dogs and cats with very thick or long coats, you can use a hair dryer on its lowest setting to part the fur for inspection. You can also dust a light sprinkling of food-grade diatomaceous earth on and around the pet’s bedding and resting areas. Because of the physical mode of action, this is safe for people and animals but lethal to the ticks.

To find out more information and a multitude of uses for diatomaceous earth, be sure to check out our website at www.absorbentproducts.com.

And get yourself outside!

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Diatomaceous Earth: Complicated Name, Simple Product

Diamaceous. Diamotaceous. Dy-ma-may-shus. Dytomacious. Dimaceous. Deatomayceous. Dymacious.
Just what on Earth are we talking about?
Here at Absorbent Products’ British Columbia head office, we have heard just about every variation of ‘diatomaceous earth’ from folks throughout North America. It seems rather counterintuitive that such a simple substance should have such a complicated name. No wonder it’s so commonly referred to by its easiest form – ‘DE’!
The proper term is diatomaceous, pronounced “DI-a-tom-AY-shus”. The origin of the word is straightforward. The first part, “diatom”, is the name of the single-celled algae whose billions of skeletal remains forms the product. The second part, “-aceous”, is a Latin-derived suffix meaning “belonging to”, or “of the nature of”.
DE was identified in Germany in the 1830s, but it has been used by humans for various purposes for centuries. With such a long history, DE has become known by several different names, including:
Kieselgur (or kieselguhr) – the original term in German for DE, this is derived from kieselalgen, German for ‘diatoms’.
Diatomite – specifically, this is diatomaceous earth that has been lithified, or turned into sedimentary rock. Diatomite can be milled into many different particle sizes of DE, from chunky cat litter to insecticidal powder.
Fossil shell flour and dinosaur dust – like fossils or amber, DE is the product of creatures that lived and died millions of years ago.
Silica, also known as silicon dioxide – often used when referring to pure DE. Silica (chemical formula SiO2) is the main component in the algal skeletons that make up the DE. Silica is also an abundant compound in Earth’s crust, and an essential life-building block for most organisms.
No matter how you refer to it, or how you pronounce it, diatomaceous earth has many benefits and uses in pest control, agriculture, animal feed, pet care, and in industrial applications. You can see and learn more about our complete line of DE products at www.absorbentproducts.com

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Does Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth Have an Expiration Date?

Expired meter

Red Lake Earth (RLE) is a food chemical codex grade diatomaceous earth product that is registered for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking and flow agent (not to exceed 2% of total diet).

This product does not have an expiration date. As long as it is stored in a cool, dry area, it is good for an indefinite period of time. In fact, Red Lake Earth can even become wet and be used after it is left to dry! Once dry, the product will return to its natural state and continue to work as it did before it became wet.

A date stamp can be found on RLE packaging however this stamp is not an expiration date but rather the day that the product was packaged.

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural product. The age of the product does not affect its ability to function therefore a new bag of RLE will be just as effective as an older bag.

Image by no more cockroaches

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How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth

When using diatomaceous earth for pest control it is helpful to be creative in your application methods. While many people simply use their hands or a scoop to sprinkle the powder in the cracks and crevices of their homes and throughout their yards and gardens, others come up with interesting and more efficient methods of applying the product. Below is a list of creative applicators that can be found or made with simple supplies that you may already have at home.

  • Panty hose
  • Burlap bag
  • Salt shaker
  • Ketchup or mustard bottle
  • Flour sieve
  • Colander
  • Mesh strainer
  • Coffee can with holes in the lid
  • Stiff broom
  • Leaf blower
  • Aeration fan
  • Makeup powder puff

If you’ve developed a creative method for applying DE to your home or garden let us know!

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Diatomaceous Earth As A Natural Insecticide: An Accidental Discovery

Diatomaceous earth has been used for thousands of years. In fact, over 4,000 years ago the Chinese and Egyptians used DE to preserve various foods including grains, nuts, legumes and seeds and protect them from moisture, mold and pests.

However, the use of diatomaceous earth as a natural insecticide was not acknowledged by humans until 1958 in Phoenix, Arizona (animals, on the other hand, have been using dust for this purpose for millions of years).

Louis de Lisle, an inventor, believed that he had discovered a way to make synthetic gems. During one of his many visits to Louis’ small, fly infested workshop, to watch and take part in this discovery, Neil Clark made a shocking discovery. He noticed that every time Louis crushed a certain material in to a powder the flies in the workshop disappeared. This material was diatomaceous earth.

Excited about this discovery, Neil and Louis began testing the diatomaceous earth on insects and found it to be highly effective in killing them. With the help of Dr. E Bertke, a zoologist at Arizona State University, it was found and confirmed by the Bureau of Biological and Physical Sciences of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare that food grade diatomaceous earth was harmless to warm-blooded animals. In fact, the animals fed DE even gained weight!

It was shown in a University of Nebraska test that food grade diatomaceous earth has a 98% repellency factor against insects (compared to a 60% factor for most chemical insecticides) and was verified by the FDA that the product is not harmful to warm-blooded animals.

Image by Chris Breeze

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Diatomaceous Earth: What Does Food Chemical Codex Mean?

Group of old books

The term Food Chemical Codex (FCC) refers to a compendium of standards that is used internationally to ensure the quality and purity of food ingredients. The FCC helps manufacturers and consumers in recognizing genuine ingredients and substances and assures the quality of food products. Currently, the United States Pharmacopeia publishes the FCC every two years. The compendium was first published in 1966 by the Institute of Medicine and was acquired by the United States Pharmacopeia in 2006.

FCC standards are recognized in more than 130 countries around the world. In fact, some regulatory authorities and government bodies have incorporated these standards into their laws to help protect the quality of products and ingredients that are produced in or exported to their countries.

US law and FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) regulations refer to FCC standards. Currently, over 200 FDA regulations in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations incorporate the standards set forth in the Food Chemicals Codex compendium.

In Canada, food additives must comply with regulations issued by Health Canada. If no such regulations exist, specifications set by the FCC (Fourth Edition) are to be followed.

Australia and New Zealand’s governing body for such regulations (the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) recognizes standards set by the FCC (Sixth Edition) as the primary source of identity and purity for substances added to food.

In Brazil, FCC standards are recommended, along with other standards.

In Israel, Public Health Regulations state that those who produce, import, market or store food additives must comply with the requirements in the latest edition of the FCC or in the latest edition of the Compendium of Food Additive Specifications (JECFA).

Products that are labeled Food Chemical Codex Grade have met high standards and are considered safe however, in the case of diatomaceous earth, this term does not suggest that the product is safe or registered for human consumption. Food Chemical Codex Grade diatomaceous earth products may be approved for use as a filtering and processing aid in the food industry, as long as the substance is removed from final goods offered for sale. In the United States, FCC compliant DE products are regulated by each state for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking agent and flow aid (in amounts not to exceed two percent of total diet).

There is also confusion around DE being safe for human consumption due to GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. Again, with all FCC DE products, GRAS only refers to the acceptance of DE being used as a filtering or processing aid in food. The term GRAS when associated with DE does not refer to human consumption, as some web-sites may indicate.

In order for a DE product to be sold for human consumption it must undergo stringent and lengthy testing and be registered with the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) or CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) for this purpose.

Image by Michael Graf