Saturday, July 14, 2018

30 Days of Summer - Post #12 - Hens, Hot Weather, and a Homemade Electrolyte Recipe

Our Chickens
We don't have chickens anymore. Due to the fact that winter was coming on, and we didn't have a place to house them, we gave the last of them away when we moved across town a couple of years ago. I still miss them and this hot weather has me thinking about them. 

The effects of summer heat can be devastating to chickens. Temperatures higher than 75 degrees can cause added stress on their bodies, because extra blood flow to their combs, wattles, and skin reduces the flow to vital organs. This imbalance in the body produces symptoms including purplish combs, droopy wings, a disheveled appearance and a refusal to eat or drink. This eventually leads to coma or death.

Chickens combat the heat, in part, by panting. Their panting to keep cool increases their respiratory and heart rate, causing them to lose carbon dioxide much faster than they would normally. This upsets the Ph balance in their bodies, and that can lead to a potentially fatal condition called Acidosis. Adding a 2% ratio of baking soda to your chickens' water can help prevent Acidosis.

Adding apple cider vinegar to your chickens' water once a week comes with many health benefits including an increase in calcium absorption, which is particularly important during the summer months when the hens' feed intake goes down and they aren't taking in as much calcium as normal.  

A far better water additive in times of extreme heat is this homemade electrolyte balancing recipe. We used it for several years with our chickens and never once lost a hen to summer heat.

To make, per gallon of water, mix 2 tsp. sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. baking soda. 

When we had chickens, I was notorious for freezing old water, juice, and milk containers nearly full of water (I usually filled them within an inch of the top to leave room for expansion), and popping them in the freezer to make big ice cubes to go in my chickens' water. I usually added them once or twice per day to fresh water during times of extreme heat. At the end of the day, I would rinse the warm containers off, tie them up in a Walmart sack, and refreeze them again for use later in the week. I kept several frozen bottles on hand at all times to keep a rotation going. 

Another thing that you can do to make summer more bearable for your chickens, and give them a treat at the same time, is to freeze chopped up fruit (watermelon, berries, etc.) and mint leaves in ice cube trays, then add them to water or just set them on a tray in the pen and let them enjoy. 

To those of you who have chickens, I hope some of these tips aid you in helping your hens in beating the summer heat!

Until Next Time,


  1. Never knew all that about chickens. Inherited a bit more of my mom's city blood, I think, than my dad's farming side. I do continually throw ice cubes in our cat's water since she's silly and won't come inside out of the heat unless we make her.

    1. I do the same thing here, Jean. Our cat is old (going on 19 years old) and he LOVES this hot weather. He stay out day and night except to eat and drink. I worry about him, but he seems content. I put ice in his water every time he comes in and I think about it.

  2. Wow never thought about the chickens and heat, We do give them shade, I guess I will take out some ice water.

    1. Your chickens will be happy. My chickens really seemed to
      appreciate the big blocks of ice in their water pans. In fact, they would sit or stand on them. Try freezing the fruit and mint in ice cubes. They go crazy over that one! :D


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