Is Diatomaceous Earth a good fly repellant for cattle? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My mother-in-law's cattle are having fly problems this year, and she has been unhappy with ear tags that she's used in the past. She read something about diatomaceous earth as a food additive being good for pest control. Have any of you used it, and if so, with what results?

-- Cheryl McCoy (, June 26, 2001


I use a lot of it (a 50# bag at the feed store is pretty cheap). It does not repel flies, however, feeding it to them kills intestinal parasites, makes the poop not stink, and also when the flies lay eggs in the manure of an animal getting fed Diatomaceous earth, the eggs don't hatch, therefore you do have less of a fly problem.

You can also dust animals with it to kill fleas, ticks, and other external parasites.

-- Cathy <>< (, June 26, 2001.

Cathy: You can also dust animals with it to kill fleas, ticks, and other external parasites.

I have some I've had for years now. Any possible harm in using it on cats and ferrets?

-- Kyle McAfee (, June 26, 2001.

It's harmless enough to use on day-old kittens. It works on invertabrates like insects because it has microscopic sharp edges that are too small to harm mammals, but scratch holes in the exoskeleton of insects. These holes cause the insects to dry out and die. Diatomaceous earth is mined out of the earth. It is pure silica (like sand), and is actually the skeletons of microscopic sea creatures called diatoms. It is completely harmless to mammals, birds, reptiles and plants. Furthermore, chickens can eat it and their bodies convert it into calcium. If you spread it in the chicken pen, it will cut down on flies and odors, and help to worm the chickens. Some feed lots mix it in the cattle feed to cut odors and flies, and by killing the parasites, it makes the cattle convert feed more efficiently. It has similar beneficial effects for just about anything you feed it to (except bugs!) PS My trinity health email host is having difficulties with their server. If anyone wants to email me, post here on the forum and I'll respond from a different mail address.

-- Cathy <>< (, June 26, 2001.

Thanks, Cathy. I pretty much knew what it was and how it worked but I have read about it being harmful if inhaled. I would really like to try it on my 3 ferrets and a kitten. Just a little cautious until I find out for sure. Would the possible respiratory irritation be minor? Nothing to worry about?

-- Kyle M. Murfreesboro, TN (, June 26, 2001.

I am 60 years old and remember that asbestos was safe to handle and use as insulation house siding and all kinds of things, and it was natural and mined just like diatomaceous earth. The Xrays I have to have yearly to see if the asbestos is killing me yet reminds me you don't need to breath or use things just because someone thinks its ok. I don't and won't use diatomaceous earth, it may be nautral and safe but I just don't think so. Thats my opinion just for what its worth,

-- David (, June 27, 2001.

Other natural substances are petroleum, cyanide, arsenic and plutonium. It is true that "natural" doesn't necessarily mean "safe". But asbestos cannot be compared to diatomaceous earth. The problem with asbestos is that it remains suspended in the air.

Here is some asbestos info:

Asbestos: A ubiquitous natural resource The word asbestos refers to several types of fibrous minerals. In its natural state, asbestos occurs throughout much of the planet: indeed, it is found in two-thirds of the rocks in the earth's crust. The fibres are released by erosion and carried by the wind; thus, depending on where you live, you are most likely inhaling between 10,000 and 15,000 fibres a day.

A study of the European communities shows that natural sources of asbestos release more fibres into the air than industrial sources do (extraction and use). Water also contains asbestos: anywhere from 200,000 to 2,000,000 fibres per litre. In the regions of Québec where the world's largest asbestos mines are located, the drinking water contains up to 170 million fibres per litre! However, this is nothing to be alarmed about: asbestos is harmless in water, as the problem is not ingesting the fibres, but inhaling them.

Researchers have identified three diseases which are associated with the inhalation of the various types of asbestos fibre: asbestosis, which is a form of fibrosis; lung cancer; and mesothelioma of the pleura or the peritoneum, a very rare form of cancer.

Distinguishing between types of asbestos There is not one but MANY different types of asbestos fibre, divided into two main categories: amphibole and serpentine asbestos.

The amphibole fibres used commercially (amosite, crocidolite) are extremely hazardous. Because of their chemical structure and straight, needlelike fibres, amphiboles are very dusty, as well as highly biopersistent. Once in the human body, they can remain indefinitely in the lung tissue, and may cause cancer and mesothelioma. Chrysotile, the most common serpentine fibre, is considerably less hazardous than ampibole varieties. Silky in texture, with curly fibres, serpentine asbestos is unlikely to remain suspended in the air. Thus, less of it is inhaled, and it does not stay in the lungs very long. The human immune system can eliminate these fibres fairly quickly. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) of Great Britain recently concluded that, like asbestosis, the appearance of lung cancer linked to chrysotile is a threshold phenomenon, meaning that there is an exposure level below which the health risk, if any, is so low as to be undetectable. Moreover, the HSE confirms that very few cases of mesothelioma are attributable to chrysotile, despite extensive exposure of thousands of workers in the past.

Today, asbestos means chrysotile What you need to know is that 99% of the world's current asbestos production is chrysotile, a fibre which, when inhaled in small quantities, poses no health threat. Indeed, the controversy surrounding asbestos concerns fibres and products that were used in the past ­ often improperly ­ and which are prohibited today.

What is chrysotile used for today? Up until the 1970s, some 3,000 products were made with asbestos fibres of all types. These included toasters, dryers, ironing boards and low-density friable insulation products. Today, some sixty countries still use asbestos, but only the chrysotile variety and primarily in cement building materials such as roofing materials, cladding and pipe. These building products account for 90% of the chrysotile used today. Friction products represent another 7% of the chrysotile fibre used, while couplings, a few plastics, and other miscellaneous applications account for the remaining 3%. All of these high-density products, in which the chrysotile fibre is encased in a matrix of either cement or resin, do not present risks of any significance to the general public under normal conditions and use.

-- Cathy <>< (, June 27, 2001.

So, If I use DE on my ferrets and cats there will be no permanent harm from inhalation or ingestion?

-- Kyle M. Murfreesboro, TN (, June 27, 2001.

I can't guarantee that there will be no harm, but I have been using it for years and have had no problems.

I have used it on cats (including day-old kittens), hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, guinea pigs, chickens, baby birds (foundlings), squirrels, degues, and I don't know what else. I haven't had a problem yet.

I can only relate my own experiences.

-- Cathy <>< (, June 27, 2001.

I use diatomaceous earth in the following ways: 1-part bovatec salt- 1-part kelp- 1/2 part diatomaceous earth fed free choice to my goats and cattle, animals that are being milked for the homestead use would want to eleminate the bovatec salt and use loose mineral salt.we do not have a fly problem or a parsetite problem, soda could be added at 1/4 part for the control of bloat and to stabalize the pH in the rumen. We also don't have a coccia problem as bovatec salt is fed from September through June

-- Diane Brown (, June 27, 2001.

Diane: Are these parts by weight or by volume, and what is bovatec salt?

-- Cathy <>< (, June 27, 2001.

Shaklee's basic H sprayed on your cow would probably do better.

-- kathy (, June 29, 2001.


Don't put diatomaceous earth on anything where it gets into any person's or animal's eyes. If an animal is dusted with it and then rubs its eyes with its paws or it falls into the animal's eyes, it hurts. Been there myself and know it hurt MY eyes. The stuff has sharp microscopic bony edges that makes small cuts. That's why it works as a bug killer.

-- Wanda King (, July 01, 2001.

What is the best source for DE? I've checked around my area and no one seems to carry the foodgrade stuff.

There are places on the internet but which one is the best deal? And besides...who wants to pay amost $20 for shipping?

-- LBD (, July 03, 2001.

Isn't there two type of DE? I am looking for it now because the wormers I am using are not working so I am ready to try something or anything else. I was afraid there is the pool kind and the food kind. Can't find it in the feed stores here. Does anyone know if there is 2 kinds or are they the same?

-- Debbie (, July 07, 2001.

answer to Debbie's question of july 7,2001. Yes there are 2 kinds of DE, one is the type used in pool filters,. The other type is called 'Food Grade',DE, this is the one you should get for controling flies, ants, fleas, etc.

-- barry hammomd (, July 24, 2001.

O.K. you have all done it now ! You have got me wanting to try this , can you and how much would you feed cats and dogs .How much per 10lbs of dog weight ?

-- Patty {NY State} (, July 24, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ