Grit Blogs > The Chicken Chick

Chicken Heat Stress, Dehydration and Homemade Electrolyte Solution

 Chicken Electrolytes Solution 5 
Heat stress is a very serious situation for chickens and can quickly go from serious to deadly. With the extremely hot temperatures around the country this summer, we have been discussing ways to help our chickens beat the heat quite a bit on my Facebook page recently. Even when employing all of the tricks and tips possible to keep our chickens safe in the heat, according to Gail Damerow in The Chicken Encyclopedia, "[d]uring long periods of extreme heat, hens stop laying and all chickens suffer stress. When temperatures reach 104° F (40° C) or above, chickens can't lose excess heat fast enough to maintain a proper body temperature and may die."

Chicken Electrolyte Solution 2
Among the many ways to combat heat stress that I covered in my blog post Beat the Heat, is to supplement their drinking water with
electrolytes. I recommend keeping vitamins and electrolytes handy in a well stocked chicken first aid kit, but in an emergency, it is possible to make electrolytes with ingredients commonly found in most homes.

I received a question today from someone whose chicken was dehydrated and clearly in danger due to the heat, but had no electrolytes handy and promptly referred to her the recipe in The Chicken Encyclopedia. 

  Chicken Electrolytes Solution Facebook Fan Question 

Heat stress and dehydration deplete the body of electrolytes required for a chicken's normal body functioning, therefore replenishing them is a priority when chickens suffer from heat stress and/or dehydration. The following instructions for making a homemade electrolyte solution can be found in The Chicken Encyclopedia, a book I highly recommend every chicken-keeper include in their
library. 

HOMEMADE ELECTROLYTE SOLUTION 

1/2 teaspoon salt substitute*

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1 teaspoon table salt  

1 tablespoon sugar 

1 gallon water

*Salt substitute is readily available in most grocery stores in the spice aisle near the salt, but if you do not have it, don't worry, the solution will still have most of the benefits intended to combat heat stress.

"Administer this solution to dehydrated chickens in place of  drinking water for four to six hourse per day for a week, offering fresh water for the remainder of each day." 

ADVISORY: This solution should not be given to healthy chickens who are not suffering from heat stress or dehydration. 

Chicken Electrolyte Solution Hen Panting in Nest Box 

While we're on the topic of heat advisories, it bears repeating that while apple cider vinegar is beneficial to to chickens when added to their water most times of the year, ACV should NOT be added to waterers during times of high heat. In a recently published blog post that reviewed the benefits of ACV to poultry, I asked a chicken expert his opinion of ACV in poultry waterers. In reply, the Chicken Vet wrote the following, which dictates AGAINST using ACV during high heat conditions:  

"Acidified water affects laying hens by making the calcium in her feed a little less digestible (based on chemistry....calcium is a positive ion, and dissociates better in a more alkaline environment). Professional farmers regularly add baking soda to their feed when heat stress is expected....this maintains egg shell quality when hens' feed consumption drops due to the heat." 

In summary, during high heat conditions, baking soda facilitates calcium absorption while ACV inhibits it. SKIP the ACV in the heat, opting for an electrolyte solution instead.

Chicken Electrolyte Solution Heat Stress

I invite you to join me on my blog, The Chicken Chick for more chicken-keeping information, tips, photos and DIY projects with a splash of creativity! 

JOIN me on FACEBOOK: The Chicken Chick at Egg Carton Labels by ADozenGirlz

wildrose41
8/31/2013 12:02:02 AM

Salt substitute contains potassium and the body is unable to rid itself of the excess potassium if there are kidney problems. Seems to me with the chickens being dehydrated due to the heat the salt substitute would be a very bad idea.


wildrose41
8/31/2013 12:01:24 AM

Salt substitute contains potassium and the body is unable to rid itself of the excess potassium if there are kidney problems. Seems to me with the chickens being dehydrated due to the heat the salt substitute would be a very bad idea.


jolene hawkins
7/25/2012 2:19:55 PM

How smart is this


kathy mormino
7/14/2012 8:47:05 PM

You're welcome, Vicki. Thank you.


kathy mormino
7/14/2012 8:46:43 PM

My pleasure Jodi, keep 'em cool!


kathy mormino
7/14/2012 8:45:57 PM

Thank you, Kathleen!


kathleen squires
7/11/2012 8:50:28 PM

Great info and website! I especially like your photos; very helpful. I'd love to have the Rabbit guide. Thanks so much!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 3:14:13 PM

You bet Alex, thanks for stopping in today!


alex summersell
7/11/2012 2:14:23 PM

I have the chickens, now I want to add bees. I would pick the Bee and Honey guide. Thanks for all the good information.


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 2:39:40 AM

An email address would probably be helpful, right? LOL Kathy@The-Chicken-Chick.com


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 2:38:45 AM

Congratulations Britny, you have won your choice of a Grit Magazine special edition! Please email me within 48 hours with your mailing address and choice of magazine. Thanks for participating in this giveaway!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 2:37:21 AM

Thank you Cindy, my pleasure!


cindy martin
7/11/2012 1:59:03 AM

Thanks to "THE CHICKEN CHICK" and GRIT MAGAZINE for sharing this informative article on Heat and the recipe. I have raised chickens for a few years but found the info about calcium absorption and ACV very useful during times of high temperatures. Also good that I can make my own solution to beat the heat. I would choose GRIT GUIDE TO BACKYARD CHICKENS because i awlays enjoy learning new ideas to help with my chickens and especially things that are natural or can be made yourself :)


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 1:12:19 AM

Neither can I, Carol! Good luck to you!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 1:12:04 AM

It really is a great series, Rachel. Good luck!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 1:11:50 AM

Good for you, Bonnie! Enjoy your new pets!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 1:11:27 AM

Congratulations on your new hobby, Jennifer! Please let me know if there are any questions I can help with along the way!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 1:11:01 AM

Sounds great, good luck, Susan!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 1:10:44 AM

Oh no, not Wonder bread! GAH! Good luck, Jodi!


kathy mormino
7/11/2012 1:10:28 AM

Very cool, Anne Marie. Good luck!


carol carrier
7/11/2012 12:39:40 AM

I would love Backyard Chickens! I can't get enough to read about my new favorite hobby!!


rachel scott
7/11/2012 12:21:49 AM

I would like to win the Guide to Backyard Chickens. I think it will help me grow as a backyard chicken keeper.


bonnie dicrocco
7/11/2012 12:12:21 AM

I would like Backyard Chickens because it has already been so helpful in this new venture of mine!


jennifer cysensky
7/10/2012 11:45:43 PM

I would really like to win the Guide to Backyard Chickens, especially since I am just starting out and trying to learn as much as possible!


susan smith
7/10/2012 11:39:52 PM

I would love to win any of the books. I love raising chickens, but would live to expandti growing and raising more of my own food. I just planted 20 fruit trees and a few raspberry and I have some blueberry bushes. Helpful hints on any of these topics would be appreciated


anne marie t. pelletier
7/10/2012 11:24:58 PM

I would love to win the magazine Backyard gardening Bees and Honey as I am a recently new beekeeper and would love to find out more information.


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 11:12:28 PM

LOL Shellie, good luck!


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 11:12:04 PM

Hmmm, sounds problematic, Britny. Good luck, sounds like you'd put the issue to good use!


jodi laplante khouri
7/10/2012 11:11:48 PM

I would love the Guide to Homemade Bread. I am on a mission to find the perfect recipe for sandwich bread. I have tried so many different recipes so far, and none make my kids happy like "Wonder". So I will just keep on trying different bread recipes till I find one. :)


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 11:11:13 PM

Yikes, 107° is unbearable. If your chickens are still laying, you're doing everything right; keep up the good work!


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 11:10:25 PM

Hi Dana and thank you! Welcome to backyard chicken-keeping, happy to have you with me on my Facebook page! If you have any questions I can help with, please don't hesitate to ask.


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 11:09:10 PM

Thanks Delia and good luck!


shellie werich
7/10/2012 10:59:11 PM

Gesh! .. forgot to put why. I swear while just thinking about homebaked bread, I was already smelling it, and forgot what I was doing. We would Love to have that smell at home, and .. just got the idea of eggs on homemade toast!! (must be dinner time) We need that book. LOL


shellie werich
7/10/2012 10:42:04 PM

The Guide to Homemade Bread ;)


britny garcia
7/10/2012 10:13:56 PM

Great info...as always! I would like to win the Guide to Homeade Bread! My last few loaves have stopped rising. :( Not sure what I'm doing wrong (yes, I've bought new yeast and flour), but my family would like bread that doesn't come out like a brick! :)


dana horton-poore
7/10/2012 9:39:37 PM

Thanks for all the info Kathy, we are new fans of yours! Love, Love, Love all the info and it has helped us prepare for this heatwave we are having here in Cali..just got the misters setup for the chickens. we are new to the chicken thing and have an eclectic mix of Silkies, Polish, etc..still learning the breeds, 3 are laying right now so I didn't want them to get heatstressed, we are having 107 temps...I appreciate all the advice, my daughter and I have a saying when we get down, we just go out and hang with the chickens and they make us feel so better, they are so friendly and funny! I would hope to win GRIT's Backyard Chickens so we can learn more! Thanks ever so much!


dana horton-poore
7/10/2012 9:34:33 PM

Hi Kathy I am a new fan! I have learned so much and have been inspired by your info. We are having our heatwave here and now I have our chickens setup with misters and plenty of water sources. I would love to win GRIT guide to Backyard Chickens as we are new to the poultry thing and can't believe how much pleasure they give us here! My 10 year old daughter and I have a saying if we are ever feeling down we go out and hang with the chickens, they make us feel so much better and we laugh!


delia gill
7/10/2012 9:02:57 PM

i like every thing you have posted .an i would love to win the backyard chickens thank you


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 7:07:00 PM

Coco, I'm SO glad that you had your first aid kit handy for that unfortunate incident and am happy to know that Edwina is doing well. Good for you!


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 7:06:07 PM

Very interesting, Joely. There are breeds in the UK that you won't be able to find here though, which is kind of a bummer. Good for you for researching the nuances involved in keeping chickens in different countries!


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 7:05:09 PM

My pleasure, Tina!


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 7:04:57 PM

Congratulations Jennifer!! They're such rewarding pets!


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 7:04:22 PM

Shawn, so I hear. Do the best you can, it's not easy. I've got lots of other tips to help chickens beat the heat in this blog post: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/beat-heat-how-to-help-chickens-survive.html


coco rogers
7/10/2012 6:41:15 PM

Always great info from you, Kathy! This is an excellent emergency recipe. I would love to win the Grit Backyard Chickens book for my collection. I've already done emergency "surgery" on one of my girls, Edwina, who sliced open her whole face on the left side. Gail's book was very helpful, as was your post on the chicken first aid kit. I had everything handy and didn't panic, even though I'm new to chickens. My sweet girl's going great now. :-)


joely pentlow
7/10/2012 6:32:38 PM

Great info, thanks Kathy. For the special edition GRIT magazine, I would choose Backyard hens. My reason is having kept hens in the UK I now want to keep them in here in the USA. I think there will be differences between UK and USA hen keeping due to heat, preditiors and breeds. I would find a USA version very useful as I need to know the American way! Thanks


tina prescott
7/10/2012 6:27:04 PM

Thanks so much for the recipie - I am in North Cantral Alberta and even us this week its hot and muggy


jennifer llanes alderson
7/10/2012 6:22:15 PM

I would choose the backyard chicken edition because we are very new to chickens. Got our first baby chicks a week and a half age.


shawn watson
7/10/2012 3:59:28 AM

Thanks for the recipe for electrolyte. We may need it , its been really hot here in Texas..


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 3:57:03 AM

That's so nice of you to say, Kristina, thank you!


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 3:56:47 AM

Thank you Kim. ☺


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 3:56:37 AM

Thank you Holly! Give my love to Cheep Cheep. :)


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 3:56:21 AM

My pleasure, Gretchen, just relaying what The Chicken Vet wrote. :)


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 3:55:53 AM

Thank you Jesse!!


kristina scarpa
7/10/2012 2:52:11 AM

My whole family loves all your great Pictures. Thanks for all the great advise and reminders!


kim harden
7/10/2012 2:23:07 AM

So helpful, as always :)


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 1:45:50 AM

Congratulations Gayle! You have won the tee shirt of your choice. Please email me with your size and preference (got eggs? or Chicken Outlaw). Kathy@The-Chicken-Chick.com


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 1:43:25 AM

Congratulations Jeanne! You have won the tee shirt of your choice. Please email me with your size and preference (got eggs? or Chicken Outlaw). Kathy@The-Chicken-Chick.com


kathy mormino
7/10/2012 1:28:17 AM

Thank you Krista! It's nice to have you with me on Facebook and here at Grit!


holly olejnik
7/10/2012 1:18:57 AM

Always love your page! Lots of great tips!


gretchen ziemer
7/10/2012 1:15:40 AM

thanks for the update about apple cider vinegar :) i didn't know it should not be put in the water when it's real hot!! thanks!


jesse conner
7/10/2012 12:58:53 AM

So many super helpful hints and always usef advice, the tee is just the refreshing cherry on top!


krista keenan pulcifur
7/10/2012 12:39:16 AM

I'm glad I found your profile on FB........the chicks are happy too. It's been very informative. Thank you.


jodi laplante khouri
7/10/2012 12:38:14 AM

Thanks for the info - so glad we haven't had the 100 degree heat.


vicki shows
7/10/2012 12:26:42 AM

Thanks for all the good info, my girls (hens) appreciate it.


jenny durbin
7/10/2012 12:24:46 AM

Valuable information -- I did not know ACV inhibits calcium absorption in high heat and that baking soda facilitates it. The things we learn. Thanks!


victoria channell-johnson
7/10/2012 12:22:01 AM

You page is very helpful... Thank You


tracy jenner
7/10/2012 12:21:01 AM

This is so useful, and the birds will drink it Thank you


wendee
7/10/2012 12:16:11 AM

I am so happy to have found your page! Chicken lovers unite :)


britny garcia
7/9/2012 11:52:27 PM

Great article! I have been using the little packets of electrolytes, but this will be much cheaper to add daily and I like knowing exaclty what is in anything I give to my chickens. Thanks! brit868@yahoo.com


jennifer llanes alderson
7/9/2012 10:52:01 PM

Awesome article! Love all your helpful tips. I am a new chicken owner and need all the help I can get :)


robin mcdowell
7/9/2012 10:45:31 PM

We had 110 temps saturday here in Indiana and I used electrolytes all last week. I was lucky to not to have lost and birds but so many did .


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 10:16:46 PM

Hi Sheila. My pleasure, thank you!


patricia gow valentino
7/9/2012 10:09:32 PM

Thank you for this information! Mine seem to be fine with our 100 heat, however, they have stopped laying. I'm hoping it's temporary


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 10:03:36 PM

Thanks so much, Theresa!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 10:03:23 PM

My pleasure, thank you Jeanne!


shelia bush bell
7/9/2012 10:02:14 PM

Thanks for the useful information for electrolyte solution and for the chance to win the t-shirts....Love it.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 10:01:52 PM

I'm all over it, Alex. ;)


esther widgren
7/9/2012 10:01:38 PM

Great information, as always! Perhaps staying away from ACV during the hottest days of summer is a good idea. I saw a slightly different recipe for electrolyte solution on another blog that did not include the potassium chloride (salt substitute) and had no warnings about limiting its use to stressed or dehydrated chickens and for only 4 hours at a time. I am loathe to add something to their water that could potentially harm them, especially since many people think that "if one is good, two must be better"! Thanks to you for a wonderfully informative article!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 10:01:00 PM

Thanks. There will be more, Spencer. ;)


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 10:00:42 PM

My pleasure Gayle. I'm glad your chicken all made it through that awful heat.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 10:00:04 PM

Finally! Great news!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:59:46 PM

I'm so happy to hear it, Phoebe. Keep up the good work!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:58:59 PM

Thank goodness, Carol! Enough is enough already.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:58:44 PM

Thank you Michelle and good luck!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:58:24 PM

Thanks Renae.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:57:59 PM

Congratulations Jamie and Braden on your new pets! Please tell your son my Black Copper Marans rooster needs a new home and if he can come get him, Maxon would love to live with you! LOL


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:56:55 PM

I'm looking forward to hearing about the Tuna Fish Cure, April!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:56:06 PM

You're welcome and thank you for being with me on this chicken-keeping adventure!


robin halsey
7/9/2012 9:55:56 PM

Thank you SO much for the great information!!!!!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:43:27 PM

Wow, great timing! My pleasure, Susan!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:43:03 PM

Thanks for sharing, Alex!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:31:11 PM

Thank you Cindy! Will do!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:30:55 PM

Thanks Sandy.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:30:47 PM

You're welcome! I hope your chickens don't need it much longer and the weather breaks soon!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:30:14 PM

My pleasure, Teresa!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:29:59 PM

Thank you, Leslie.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:29:43 PM

LOL! Okay.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:29:27 PM

Hi Amy! I'm thrilled that you found my blog today too! Feel free to subscribe and get all the latest content delivered right to you!


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:28:41 PM

Eggsactly, Christa! ;)


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:28:28 PM

That's part of what I love about blogging, Heather, I didn't know that before I consulted The Chicken Vet either.


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 9:26:45 PM

That's what I learned from The Chicken Vet. I thought it was interesting too. High school chemistry gives me hives! lol


theresa dennett
7/9/2012 9:25:04 PM

Very good info on your page


jeanne partelow franklin
7/9/2012 9:06:12 PM

Great tips and pics! Thank-you!


martha waugh
7/9/2012 8:48:51 PM

I love the homemade recipe for electrolytes. Definitely going to have to use it. We have such hot summers since we're in a valley. I'm sure the girls will appreciate this.


alex summersell
7/9/2012 8:41:33 PM

I remember you posting about the Baking Soda before. It is good to repeat not to use the ACV during high heat times.


spencer knight
7/9/2012 8:36:51 PM

These is the best info i saw in years thank you


gayle engstrom
7/9/2012 8:26:27 PM

We have been very blessed. We have not lost one chicken because of the 100 + degree weather. I am going to keep the information "HOMEMADE ELECTROLYTE SOLUTION"on hand just in case we should ever have a need. Hopefully we will never will need it. Hoping to win a T shirt too. Thanks for all your tips.


pam day
7/9/2012 8:25:12 PM

The heat here in Texas is better today due to much needed rain. Thanks for the great info. So far so good on my girls.


phoebe mc kell
7/9/2012 8:18:37 PM

Misting my girls and putting frozen water bottles in their water helped us through the hot days. Thanks for your tips.


carrie stuckwisch hanner
7/9/2012 8:16:47 PM

HEy, there!!! I am gambling for shirts!!!!! Iam not a good gambler at all.... Hope all your animals are beating the heat!!!


carol carrier
7/9/2012 8:12:57 PM

The heat is better today. My girls survived it nicely. They do love their watermelon snack in the afternoon!!


michelle hilbrand
7/9/2012 8:12:34 PM

You always share such great information! Thanks! Hope I win a Tee :)


renae tavares
7/9/2012 8:07:11 PM

Thats some good ACV info. I always put that in my chickens water. Also love the tees.. :)


jamie lott
7/9/2012 8:03:55 PM

We just got our very first chicks a week ago. They are all hens. We really appreciate all of your info and help taking care of them. We are here also in hopes of winning a t-shirt. My 8yr old son would also like me to inform you that he wishes we had a black rooster in the bunch! ;) Thanks again for all the help! Sincerely, Jamie & Braden


april frazier
7/9/2012 7:57:08 PM

Thanks for the electrolyte recipe, and the information on using the apple cider vinegar vs the baking soda. I'd be interested in knowing more about how this works. I prefer to use more natural things with my chickens. I'll have to tell you about the "Tuna Fish Cure" sometime! Thanks for sharing all this information. I love it!


kimberlee milliron
7/9/2012 7:49:54 PM

thanks for all the great info all the time and the fun ideas


alex turpen
7/9/2012 7:49:32 PM

I shared this with a chicken forum that I belong to. Great info!


susan jordan
7/9/2012 7:47:08 PM

I ran out of Sav-A-Chick but thankfully, saw your post on the homemade electrolyte solution. A lifesaver in the most literal sense of the word. Thank you!


jody ferrill
7/9/2012 7:42:58 PM

I love your blog!


cindy lemley gee
7/9/2012 7:37:37 PM

Love your page, your blogs and all your contests. Keep up the good work!


sandy morris
7/9/2012 7:37:31 PM

Thats awesome


renee sauceda
7/9/2012 7:36:51 PM

Thanks for this. I just mixed up a batch :)


teresa l shively
7/9/2012 7:36:49 PM

Thank you so much for always having great info, also ty for the giveaway :)


leslie crompton-smith
7/9/2012 7:34:28 PM

Awesome! You are so informative!


bobbie sue bower
7/9/2012 7:34:11 PM

Kewl!!


amy arnold
7/9/2012 7:33:55 PM

Just found your blog today and am so happy that I have! Great article! Thank you so much!


teresa sharp
7/9/2012 7:32:17 PM

Great ideas, thank you!


christa kenyon
7/9/2012 7:32:15 PM

Hi Chicken Chick! I'd love to be a proud wearer of one of those cute chicken tees! What better wardrobe attire for a chicken addict:)


heather diesing
7/9/2012 7:31:40 PM

Very timely post, I had no idea tabout the ACV!!


sandy abell
7/9/2012 7:30:45 PM

Didn't know about not using ACV in the heat. Thanks: )


kathy mormino
7/9/2012 7:29:47 PM

My pleasure, Julana!


julana schaub
7/9/2012 7:27:02 PM

Thanks for posting this great idea! Cheap too! Lana in MI