Combating dehydration in chicken by providing adequate water

Dehydration in Chickens: How to Avoid This Painful and Costly Mistake

Dehydration in Chickens: How to Avoid This Painful and Costly Mistake

Dehydration in chickens is a very serious underrated condition in poultry farming


A lot of poultry farmers experience this situation without knowing the root course of their bird’s malady is dehydration.


I have come to realize that dehydration in chickens is one of the swiftest killers of poultry birds.


It sets in quickly and often difficult to fix if the bird is too far gone. A few hours in the sun without water can mean death. The best possible solution is to avoid it.


Combating dehydration in chicken by providing adequate water

Combating dehydration in chicken by providing adequate fresh clean water always


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I Will Try To Summarize Two Bitter Experiences We Hard With Dehydration In Chickens On Our Farm.

The Harmattan

The harmattan, caused by shifting weather patterns, means “tears your breath apart” in Twi, a West African language.


It originates from the dry and dusty harmattan trade winds which blow from the Sahara desert over West Africa.


It usually comes between the end of November through to the ending of February and the second week of March.


The harmattan season which is similar to winter in the western world is a very tricky weather condition.


The weather is usually really bright and hot in the afternoon (blowing hot dry dusty wind with low relative humidity in the air) but could get very windy and extremely cold at night.


This very contrasting and unpredictable weather condition could have an adverse effect on your livestock if measures are not put in place to fight dehydration in chickens and heat stroke.


Read: Chickens: 9 Reasons Why Your Family Needs This Amazing Bird


Our Experience with Dehydration in Chickens

We were trying to fix and clean our large poultry pen house in the morning so we moved the remaining of our six roosters to a smaller coop in the compound, to enable us to carry out the said task.


We actually thought the task will be completed in a matter of a few minutes. It took us longer than expected reaching afternoon. Meanwhile, the coop was facing the sunset, with all the accompanying hot sun (heat) focusing on the birds.


Out of the six roosters in the coop, we lost four from dehydration and heatstroke all this happen swiftly before we realized it.  


Lessons learned never expose your birds in the open even for a few minutes without water and shade especially if it’s a smaller coop.


It should be under a bigger roof or under a tree shade that will reduce the intensity of the direct scorching sun.


READ ALSO: Water and Its Importance, Sources, Health Hazard Associated With It


The Second Experience

Automation (automatic drinkers) is one good invention that has made poultry farming more interesting and cost-effective but it comes with its own disadvantage.


Just like everything in life it has no guarantee. It can also fail, therefore it requires constant supervision, maintenance, and care.


A lot of poultry farmers believe that since bell drinkers provide a constant flow of water, a few will be enough for a certain large number of birds.


This is wrong and could be very dangerous especially in extreme weather conditions, where chickens scramble and jostle for water.


They will climb the bell drinkers, therefore, exerting pressure on it. Thereby stopping the flow of water completely which could lead to serious dehydration in chickens.


Especially when the chicks are much younger they tend to climb the drinkers.


Back then when we started poultry farming we only have two automatic bell drinkers in our poultry pen house which off course led to a lot of health issues such as heat stroke, dehydration in chickens, poor feed intake, convulsion, etc.


The lessons learned, provide enough bell drinkers in your poultry pen house especially when your birds are young and it’s easier for them to climb the drinkers.


In extreme weather conditions use manual drinkers alongside automatic drinkers until the birds are big enough not to climb the bell drinkers.


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Rooster perching

Rooster perching

Symptoms of Dehydration in Chickens

Dehydration in chickens comes with some obvious signs which include the following:

  • Panting is the primary avenue for heat loss under heat stress leading to dehydration in chickens.


  • Open their wings and fluff out their feathers.


  • Breathing becomes heavy and labored.


  • Diarrhea sets in.


  • the bird will become listless


  • Lethargic


  • Consistent dehydration in chickens caused by heat stress may lead to immune suppression by lowering feed digestibility, increasing gut permeability, and compromising immunity.


  • Heat stress leaves animals more susceptible to gut-health related issues such as dysbacteriosis and necrotic enteritis and thus increases the need to use antibiotics.


  • The decrease in egg production in the case of laying hens.


  • The birds also become limp or even completely unreactive.


  • Seizures/ Convulsions may set in.


  • These involve unconscious twitching of the muscles, backward arching of the neck, and paddling of the feet. This is broken by periods of general limpness and unreactivity.


  • If prompt action is not taken death may occur.


You might be interested in READING:

How to Reduce the Cost of Feeding Your Chickens by Utilizing the Available Resources at Your Disposal

Understanding the Cause of Poultry Diseases and What to Do If Your Chickens Are Sick

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A sick bird

Water quality and availability is crucial to maintain normal intestinal
function and digesta pH, and to avoid bacterial proliferation in the


In combating dehydration in chicken. The first step to take is to be calm, most often, poultry farmers tend to be confused seeing their birds looking very sick.


Maybe before leaving your farm your birds are active full of life only to return to the farm seeing your birds listless, motionless, unresponsive, week, and maybe already convulsing.


Take your bird to the intensive care unit (ICU) of your farm a cool and separated coop or environment away from the more energetic and active birds.


Provide water to your birds in a bowl by dipping the weak bird’s peak in the water, most times the birds would be seen sipping the water gradually.


If the bird is too weak to sip the water you can use a syringe to extract the water into the bird’s mouth. 


By dropping the water pint by pint, never rush. Allowing the bird to sip a pint at a time. Mixing the water with electrolyte and multivitamins.


Taking your time to do the same for all of the birds affected will save and reduce the number of mortalities in your flock.


Although the badly affected may still die, by thus doing you will greatly reduce the number of mortalities.


It is always a good practice as a poultry farmer, that you have a separate coop for sick and weak birds.


Where they would be looked after for a few days until certified fit to join the remaining healthy flock.


READ ALSO: Brooding Day Old Chicks and the General Management.


Prevention of Dehydration in Chickens

If you’ve ever experienced dehydration in chickens and loss of your birds, I think you would prefer this subtopic to be at the beginning of this article. Because as the popular sayings go prevention is always better than cure.


Most poultry farmers and livestock keepers will agree with me that providing your birds, and livestock with good clean water is one of the major tasks of animal husbandry.


In fact, before you ever think of keeping any type of livestock be it sheep, goats, cows, and poultry birds.


You have to make sure, you have a good and constant source of water supply. Because if you don’t forget it, you are not in business.


Your inability to provide good clean water always might the bane of poor bird performance.


The Following Points Will Help You Eliminate or Reduce Dehydration in Chickens to the Barest Minimum:


  • Provide clean and fresh water always to your birds.


  • If you live in a hot humid region of the world ensure that your poultry pen house is well ventilated. Poultry farm cooling fans should be provided for larger operations.


  • Never trust your automatic drinkers just like any other thing in life they can also fail.


  • Always ensure a good maintenance routine and supervision for constant water supply.


  • Before leaving your farm ensure that the drinkers are filled with enough water.


  • If you are traveling or staying longer outside have someone supervise the supply of water to your birds. In the absence of farmworkers. If you are the only one in charge.


  • If you are using manual drinkers as your birds grow you should change the quantity, size, and volume of the water drinkers, it should be commensurate to the size of your flock.


  • Water containers and drinkers should be kept in a cool place away from direct sun rays and heat.


  • The drinkers should be placed on blocks and bricks or crates for carbonated drinks. This will help keep your chickens from kicking and putting wood shavings and manure into it. These will help in keeping poultry diseases at bay.




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