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Beating the Heat - Can you freeze Electrolytes?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Raptor Wrangler, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. Raptor Wrangler

    Raptor Wrangler Hatching

    Jan 15, 2017
    Hi everyone! As a 'newb' to BYC, I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this question but I'll give it a shot:

    As we're currently in the midst of a heatwave, can I freeze chicken electrolytes into ice cubes before putting it out for my hens? Has anyone tried this before?

    They love the giant ice cubes I make for them during these crazy hot days to the point where they ignore the electrolyte water in the waterer. I wouldn't be too fussed about it other than we've had a few unbearably hot nights recently with more to come and I'm happy to make this little change if it keeps the girls alive until the heat drops. (Seriously- I think I've tried every idea out there by this point of the summer!)

    Thanks in advance- cheers!

  2. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    It's got electrolytes? Most likely the reason they are not drinking the water. What they want and need is pure clean water and lots of it. NO electrolytes!

    Getting them pure water is critical. The primary way they cool themselves is to pant, which takes water warmed by their system and exhales it. Their warm moist breath is their primary radiator. Unless you get them some pure clean water to drink, most likely they will dehydrate and die.

    Don't be offended, it was a well meaning and honest mistake. But your electrolytes comment reminds me of this scene from the movie Idiocracy:

    1 person likes this.
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    Hopefully, I was not too harsh. The point is that sports drinks meant for us humans include electrolytes because we keep cool by sweating, and our sweat includes minor amounts of salts and other minerals. So sports drinks include them to replace those, although those would only be needed in the most extreme conditions. For the vast majority of the time, we only need plain old fresh water ourselves.

    Birds don't have sweat glands, so don't sweat. Their cooling mechanism is to pant and have a sophisticated respiratory system to vent hot moist air in their breath. If their mouth is open and they are panting, they are hot and working it. What they desperately need to do is to makeup that lost water with cool fresh, PURE water.

    By including electrolytes in their water in hot or any other weather, you are forcing them to drink the stuff, concentrating the salts, etc. It is not unlike us drinking salty sea water. Try to survive on it and it will kill you. The only way they could shed all these salts, etc. is through their feces, which is part urine. To do that, again, more pure fresh water.

    In addition to being cool, most likely reason birds are attacking any ice is it is made from fresh water, not because it is cold.
    1 person likes this.
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    Howard is absolutely right. A well meaning but potentially fatal mistake.
    Too much salt, too few ways to get rid of it for the birds. Give them fresh cold, clean water.
    Best Regards,
    Karen in western PA, USA
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    If you read different posts on this forum you get a lot of different opinions on electrolytes. Some people would have you believe you are abusing your chickens if you don’t continually give them electrolytes. They think have to have them to be healthy. It’s a very easy attitude to pick up on this forum. So, yeah Howard, be gentle on newbie’s. They probably read that on this forum. But still get your point across. Funny video too. I see that logic on here a lot.

    Some hatcheries recommend you put some of their electrolytes (they sell packets along with the chicks) in the first water the chicks get to help them get over shipping stress. Electrolytes do provide a burst of energy. You can achieve the same result by putting some sugar or hummingbird syrup in their water. I have not read every hatchery’s recommendations on electrolytes but the general feel I get for them is to put electrolytes in the first water they drink, then after 12 hours throw that out and give them clean water from then on. You can do the same type of thing if a chick or adult chicken is sick and listless. Feeding it some electrolytes, sugar water, or diluted hummingbird liquid can give it a burst of energy, maybe enough to get it to eating and drinking on its own again. Electrolytes, sugar water, and hummingbird liquid has saved sick chickens’ lives.

    When I put chicks in the brooder straight out of the incubator or from the post office, I do not give them electrolytes, sugar water, or hummingbird liquid. In some cases where shipping has been delayed, it could be really useful to get them over shipping stress. I start mine off with clean fresh water. All they ever get to drink from me is clean fresh water. I do not put electrolytes, vinegar, or anything else in it, just clean fresh water.

    Raptor Wrangler, to me the best thing you can do for your chickens in the heat is to provide plenty of shade and cool water. In really extreme heat you may have to do more but I don’t know where you are or how hot you have to deal with so I won’t go into that. If you want to provide treats to help them frozen watermelon is a popular choice. Frozen grapes is another choice. I’m sure there are plenty of other treats you can give them. But do stay away from salty stuff. Like many living animals chickens can use a little salt, but their bodies cannot handle large amounts. If those electrolytes are greatly diluted they probably won’t cause any harm, but it’s about the last thing I’d feed them.
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Yet an other electrolyte info post. I can tell you, based on experience that electrolyte use DOES have a place in very hot weather. Last summer, I had some young birds. On a very hot day, I went out to check on them, and found them actually stumbling around. I had absolutely no idea what their issue was. But, 3 of them were demonstrating noticeable lack of coordination. Having no other ideas in mind, I came in and did a google search for home made electrolyte solution. I mixed up a batch, and gave half of it to the youngsters, and half of it to the adults. I left their plain water. They went to work on the lyte solution, and within an hour were back to their usual "running around" selves. Since then, I do offer lytes on very hot days, but at no time do I give it to them without making sure they also have good, fresh, plain, cold water. They will self regulate. If they need the salts in the solution, they will drink it. While Howard's movie clip may have been amusing it was totally irrelevant. Plants do not need the salt that is in lytes, and it would be toxic to the plants. What ever the mechanism, hot days can result in lyte imbalance. Birds drink more liquids in an effort to cool down. This throws their blood chemistry off, which can result in lack of coordination and confusion.
    1 person likes this.

  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I too agree with all the stuff that has been written.
    It would be helpful to know the location so we know the conditions one is dealing with.
    Obviously, a discussion about heat in January, the OP is in the southern hemisphere and likely Australia, Africa or other hot region.
    I haven't given chickens electrolytes either, even in our hottest summers. I highly recommend foot baths in extreme heat. (100F/38C+) Blood vessels are close to the skin there and a cool soak helps bring the body temp down.
    I do give baby chicks a probiotic in their first water (Gro2Max) and occasionally a vitamin/mineral bump. (currently using Nutri-Drench).
    For an energy boost, a little agave nectar in the water. (agave dissolves readily in water)
    But after that it is plain water. From time to time I put the probiotic powder in adult and growing birds' water.
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I wanted to add that I'm a strong advocate for raising breeds better adapted to one's climate.
    No Chanteclers or Orloffs in Texas/Ethiopia/inland Aussie outback and no Seramas or Silkies in Minnesota/Siberia
  10. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I too give plain unadulterated water free choice, with some watermelon, and ice cubes in the water, during hot weather. 'Electrolytes' is a term that covers a lot of territory! Most premixes I've seen have been mostly salt, and home made can be almost anything. Wise breed selection, plenty of shade, cool water, and frozen fruits all make a big difference. My coop is also shaded, the roof is insulated, and in really hot weather, I can add a fan inside. Mary

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