Friday, July 6, 2012

Homemade Electrolyte Recipe For Chickens

This is one hot chicken!

When temperatures cause heat stress conditions for you chickens, maintaining electrolyte balances and water intakes are important factors that can affect your chickens survivability in high temperatures.  On days when it is hot, you may have noticed your chickens breathing with their mouths open, also known as panting.  This is because as the outside temperature rises, your chickens will pant in order to decrease their body temperature. This is referred to as evaporative heat loss and is one of the most important mechanisms that your chickens uses for survival.  Although panting is beneficial because it helps decrease your chickens body temperature,  it will in turn cause your chicken to lose more water from it's body than it would in more comfortable temperatures.  Your chicken will now try to compensate for this loss by drinking more water than normal,  throwing off the body's natural electrolyte balance.  This is why it is so important for chickens you to help your chickens replace lost electrolytes so they can retain water properly and stay hydrated!  Your local feed store has a wide variety of electrolyte/vitamin mixes, made by companies such as Sav-A-Chick and Durvet. These are ready to add in your chickens water and are very convenient.  If you are not able to make it to the feed store or feel more comfortable making a mixture from scratch,  I have included a recipe below that was adapted from the "Practical Wildlife Care" handbook written by Les Stocker.  Whichever route you choose to take, replacing lost electrolytes in your chickens body is something that you will want to take seriously in extreme heat because it may be a matter of life or death.  

Chicken Electrolyte Recipe:

1 1/4 tsp sodium chloride (common salt, use unrefined sea salt if possible)
1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon potassium chloride (salt substitutes contain mostly potassium chloride)
2 Tbs honey or molasses

Mix solution thoroughly with 1/2 gallon of water.  Solution must be discarded after 24 hours.

Here are a few mixes you are able to purchase at your local feed store or online:

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