Having electolytes on hand in your chicken first aid kit is a good idea. Administered in cases of heat exhaustion, stress or dehydration, they could be the difference between life and death for an ailing hen or baby chick.
What they Do
Electrolytes replace sodium, potassium and minerals in the body lost due to stress, overheating or dehydration; they also rehydrate and rebalance the body's pH levels (acidity) which are extremely important for proper body functions. Much like an athlete will drink Gatorade after a race, or a baby will be given Pedialyte for vomiting or diarrhea, sometimes chickens need a little boost and rebalancing.
When to Use
in cases of heat exhaustion
for chicks suffering from shipping/travel stress or weak chicks
in case of stress from a predator attack or injury
in cases of diarrhea
The recipe below is pretty standard and a good one to bookmark for an emergency. If you live in an extremely hot climate, or often have chicks shipped through the mail, it's a good idea to mix up a batch of the dry ingredients to keep on hand and then just measure out the mixture as needed to add to your chickens' water.
Stir or whisk the dry ingredients in a small container with a lid.( If you don't have the potassium chloride, you can just omit it.)
To use, measure out 6 teaspoons of the mixture into a gallon of water (or add 1.5 teaspoon to a quart of water). Offer to chicks or adult chickens for several hours as their sole water source and then offer plain water for several hours. Repeat until symptoms subside.
In extreme cases, 2 teaspoons may be stirred into a cup of water and administered by eyedropper a few drops at a time.
Only use when needed in cases of emergency. Discard any unused liquid solution at the end of each day. Dried mixture can be stored in a cool, dry place.