It is essential to keep chickens well-hydrated in order to improve their productivity and health. Animals can lose a large amount of water in many different situations, so it is important to know which electrolytes are best for chickens and other poultry species to maintain their hydration levels.
What are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are a group of minerals that play an important role in the growth and development of the body. A majority of these minerals can be found in tissues, urine, blood, and other bodily fluids. Dehydration can lead to reduced body weight and poor quality in birds, so it is always advisable to provide access to clean water and electrolyte solutions, especially in warm regions or in poorly ventilated environments where birds may be susceptible to heat stress.
Also Read: The Importance of Water to Livestock Animals
Importance of Electrolytes to Chickens
Are electrolytes necessary or important to poultry birds? The answer depends on various factors, similar to asking if people need to consume commercial electrolyte products or pure water. If someone is sick, an athlete, or suffers from constant dehydration, they would need to consume electrolytes. Just as one would not expect the same level of electrolyte consumption from a sick person as from a healthy person, the same is true for chickens.
Chickens need more electrolytes when they are being raised for meat, as opposed to eggs, since the goal is to produce large, well-developed animals. A lack of hydration can lead to some problems, from weakened chickens to increased susceptibility to disease.
Minerals in broilers will always be necessary for meat production, especially in hot regions. Even though there are many commercial electrolytes on the market, you don’t have to waste money buying electrolytes that you can easily produce at home.
Benefits of Electrolytes for Chickens
The electrolytes present in poultry birds play an important role in their overall development and health. Some of the key benefits of electrolytes for chickens and other poultry birds include:
- They prevent the weakening of the bones and other skeletal diseases such as bone deformations or rickets.
- They help in the improvement of the bird’s hydration levels, which helps to prevent heat stress.
- They help in the development or growth of birds.
- They decrease muscle weakening in the legs and other parts of the body.
- They help the birds recover quickly after undergoing strenuous or stressful activities.
- They help in the removal of waste from body cells.
- They help in the transportation of nutrients to cells.
- They help the birds maintain the pH level of their body.
Also Read: Fermented Feed and Its Benefits to Chickens
Examples of Electrolytes
There are very important electrolytes that all organisms need, including birds and humans. They are required in very minimal quantities. When there is a lack of these minerals, serious problems could arise.
Among the most important electrolytes are the following:
- Calcium: It is the most important mineral in chickens for fattening, and is required in greater quantity than any other electrolyte. This element ensures better bone development and prevents weak bones and bone deformations.
- Sodium: It is necessary to control blood pressure and blood volume, and is also required for muscles and nerves to function properly.
- Chloride: It is necessary to maintain the proper balance of body fluids and is an essential part of gastric juices.
- Magnesium: It is an important component in bones, in addition to being a mineral that improves carbohydrate metabolism.
- Potassium: It plays an important role in the metabolism, for the formation of the tissues of the body and is also necessary for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the cells.
Also Read: The Health Benefits of Iodine for Chickens
How to Prepare Homemade Electrolytes for Chickens
You can also prepare electrolytes naturally, without the need to acquire these products from a veterinarian. Below is a simple process to prepare 1 liter of electrolyte solution.
- 1 liter of mineral or tap water
- 1 tablespoon salt (sea salt or cooking salt)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon fruit
- 1 tablespoon sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
The following steps should be taken in order to prepare the mixture:
- Boil the water in a pot or electric kettle
- Once the water has come to a boil, pour it into a container and the salt, sugar, lemon and baking soda should be added slowly while stirring.
- After stirring and total dissolving, leave the solution to cool.
- Serve the electrolyte solution to the chickens in a clean drinker. You can also store the solution in a refrigerator.
It is crucial that the solution is consumed within the first 24 hours; after that time, the solution loses its properties. Therefore, it is recommended to only prepare what will be used for that day.
Other Sources of Electrolytes
Other rich sources of electrolytes include the following:
- Coconut water: This is highly rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Coconut water is also low in sugar.
- Watermelon juice: The juice from watermelon contains a lot of magnesium, potassium and a low amount of phosphorus and calcium.
- Orange juice: It contains phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.