Why People Give Gatorade To Chickens (+ Healthier Options)

Gatorade’s cleverly placed itself in the minds of millions of active people looking to get hydrated fast.

Now we know most chickens have a pretty busy and active lifestyle, but I don’t think they are thinking about how they can get their beaks on a Gatorade!

So why do you keep hearing about people giving Gatorade to chickens? And can chickens even drink Gatorade?

We’re going to lay it out for you, explaining why so many people are giving Gatorade to their chickens, what potential benefits electrolytes actually have, and what the healthier alternatives are!

Why People Give Gatorade To Chickens

Giving chickens a few tablespoons of Gatorade in their waterer has a popular trend amongst urban farmers – especially in times of extreme or persistent heat (over 95°F, like in summer).

But why?

Well, Gatorade is known as a high-electrolyte, rehydration drink. 

So, chicken farmers will often add a small amount of Gatorade to their chicken’s waterers to help keep their flock hydrated.

Can Chickens Drink Gatorade?

Firstly, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that’s actually suggesting you give chickens undiluted Gatorade straight from the bottle.

But, in small, highly diluted amounts, the consensus is that Gatorade is generally safe to give your chickens. 

After all, it has been shown that electrolytes can have a positive impact on many functions of a chicken, with an increased benefit to those suffering from heat stress via increased water intake.

Still, although Gatorade may be OK to give to your chickens in low doses, there are better methods of hydrating your chickens.

The Concerns Or Risks

Aside from having a high electrolyte content, Gatorade is also extremely high in sugar.

Although humans can safely process these sugar levels (arguably) in any normal amount, chickens can not process sugar as well. 

Of course, you would only ever give your chickens a very diluted mix of Gatorade (1-2 tablespoons in their waterer), so at these levels, the sugar won’t necessarily be an issue.

But, aside from the sugar content, there’s also a handful of weird ingredients in Gatorade, including glycerol ester of Rosin, gum Arabic, and Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate. 

Although there are no scientific tests done on these ingredients and chickens, it doesn’t sound like they would be doing any good to them!

Is There A Healthier Way To Hydrate Chickens?

It doesn’t take much more than common sense to work out that Gatorade might not be the best thing for your chickens to drink, even in small moderate amounts.

Now, I’m not saying it’s entirely bad, as many chicken farmers have claimed it to be very helpful in hydrating their flock or treating heat stress. 

But, there are other healthy alternatives that can be equally, or even more effective, including:

  • Offering a 24/7 supply of fresh, cool water.
  • Ensuring you’ve got an adequately shady spot for your chooks.
  • Commercial electrolyte supplements made specifically for poultry
  • Nutrient-rich and hydrating fruits & vegetables (like watermelon, celery, etc.)
  • Homemade electrolyte mixes!

Use A Homemade Electrolyte Mix For Rapid Hen Hydration

Instead of Gatorade, it is much more beneficial to keep a big, homemade electrolyte mix in powder form, ready to mix in with your chicken’s waterers on those extra hot days. 

We’ve found Lisa Steele’s recipe to be very easy and effective and has been the base of our mix for years. 

Here’s our homemade electrolyte mix for rapid hen hydration:

  1. 10 teaspoons of raw sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon of salt
  3. 1 teaspoon of baking powder

This mix will last you four doses, 3 teaspoons mixed in with around half a gallon of water each time.

Benefits Of Adding Electrolytes To Chickens’ Water

Just to preface, in any normal circumstances, adding electrolytes to your chicken’s waterers isn’t really necessary.

But, if you’re facing some relentlessly hot days (or weeks), then adding electrolytes to your chicken’s waterer may actually have several benefits, particularly for those chickens suffering from heat stress.

Adding electrolytes to your chicken’s waterer provides:

  • Great hydration 
  • Replenishes lost electrolytes
  • Helps prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke
  • Increases water intake
  • Can boost appetite

What Should You Do If Chickens Are Showing Signs Of Dehydration?

Dehydration or heat stress in chickens can manifest in many ways, including:

  1. Panting
  2. Spreading their wings
  3. Lethargy
  4. Decreased appetite
  5. Decreased egg production (Dehydration is often why some chickens lay fewer eggs in summer!)

If your chickens are showing any of the warning signs, you can:

  1. Try to offer a cool, shady space for them
  2. Provide them with a fresh supply of cold water
  3. Try feeding them cold feed or cold treats
  4. Move any notably heat-stressed chickens to a cooled, indoor location for temporary care.

Quick Recap

Gatorade has become an increasingly common practice amongst chicken farmers to provide additional hydration, especially during those times of extreme or persistent heat.

Although Gatorade in these small, diluted amounts is considered safe for chickens, we prefer to provide a homemade electrolyte mix, as well as provide the basics: fresh cold water and plenty of shade

If your chickens are showing signs of dehydration or heat stress or you’re anticipating some rather hot weather (over 95°F) then adding a small amount of electrolytes in your chicken’s waterers may literally save a life, or at least keep your chickens that much more hydrated!

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