Electrolytes for Chickens: Keep Your Flock Hydrated and Healthy in Summer
What do you drink in the summer? Chances are your beverage choices are different in the summertime compared to winter. A cold drink consumed more frequently helps keep you cool and stay hydrated. The same goes for chickens. One strategy for how to keep chickens cool in summer is access to plenty of cold water. In addition, probiotics and electrolytes for chickens can help them continue to thrive as temperatures rise.
Read also: Cereals in poultry diet
Help Your Flock Beat the Heat
It’s important to know how chickens cool themselves to beat the heat. Do chickens sweat? Nope. Instead, they spread their wings and lift their feathers to let heat escape. They also pant and vibrate their throat muscles to let warm moisture evaporate.
In hot weather, chickens look for an undisturbed shady, cool spot to rest. Provide your backyard chickens cooler spots with garden plantings, awnings, umbrellas or trees.
Water is crucial. Adding more waterers, keeping them filled and locating them in shady spots is helpful. Adding ice to the water hits the spot, and a shallow pool of water where chickens can stand helps keep them cool.
“On average, a flock of seven adult birds should drink one gallon of water per day. Water is a great opportunity to provide additional nutrients,” says Julian (Skip) Olson, DVM, technical services manager for Milk Products. “To keep your birds hydrated and healthy, I recommend adding electrolytes, vitamins and probiotic supplements right into the water, especially during periods of heat stress.”
Electrolytes for Chickens
“Electrolytes contain energy to help optimize productivity and health during hot weather, while probiotics help beneficial bacteria grow quickly in the digestive tract and aid in digestive health,” says Olson.
Just like for humans and other animals, electrolytes for chickens are important. Electrolytes are comprised of minerals and alkalizing agents and play an important role in controlling fluid balance in the body. They impact the hydration in your body, the acidity of your blood, muscle functions and other critical functions during times of heat stress.
“Electrolytes are especially important in the summer or during times of heat stress because our bodies use them quicker,” says Olson. “The same is true for our chickens. When temperatures heat up, they often use electrolytes more quickly. To keep electrolyte levels stable, be sure water includes an electrolyte additive during times of heat stress.”
Electrolytes should be added right into the flock’s water.
Read also: Health management of poultry
Probiotics for Chickens
Another way to help reduce stress during summer heat is by adding probiotics to your flock’s water. Probiotics can help with digestion. Simply put, they help provide beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
“By populating the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria, pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and Clostridium have less room to grow,” says Olson. “Adding probiotics to the water can help build beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. The more good bacteria in the digestive system, the less room for harmful bacteria.”
Probiotic supplements can be added to chickens’ water for three days each month. Olson says the best bet during the summer is to add both electrolytes and probiotics to the watering schedule.
“Adding probiotics to the water three days per month is a simple and inexpensive way to help chickens thrive,” he says. “My top recommendation is to use a combination pack that includes both packages of electrolytes and probiotics.”
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