by Community Chickens
While chickens have an average body temperature in the 120 degree Fahrenheit range, ambient air temperatures, especially heat, effect how efficiently they can keep themselves cool. As summer heat rises, it’s help to your chickens to provide them with some extra electrolytes to help them fight off acidosis and keep well-oxygenated blood flow moving to their vital organs.
Chickens combat the heat in part by panting. Their panting to keep cool increases their respiratory and heart rate. This leads to expelling carbon dioxide at a much faster rate than normal, which upsets the pH balance in their bodies and can lead to acidosis, a potentially fatal condition.
Acidosis produces symptoms including purplish combs, droopy wings, a disheveled appearance and a refusal to eat or drink. This eventually leads to coma or death.
Adding baking soda (in a 2% ratio) to your chickens’ water can help counteract the acidity and prevent acidosis.
Consider adding Apple Cider Vinegar to chickens’ water several times a week. The ACV has health benefits and also increases calcium absorption, which is especially important during the summer months, when the hens’ feed intake goes down and they aren’t ingesting as much calcium as they normally do.
It’s a tricky balancing act, keeping electrolytes in balance. You want your chickens to have some ACV, but not too much, to prevent acidosis. You could buy electrolytes such as LifeLytes, or Pedialyte, but you can also make your own electrolyte recipe to add to your chickens’ water.
1 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Use full strength on severely ailing chickens, otherwise mix into their drinking water as needed, a cup per gallon of water.
Replacing the electrolytes lost during times of oppressive heat could mean the difference between life and death to your chickens.
You can also add this electrolyte mix to water for your dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and other animals. Even mix some into a little fruit juice for yourself or your kids.