I have chickens that I love and pity because of the hot climatic conditions that are difficult for us humans, despite the fact that we have many ways to mitigate them. I thought of bringing some ice cream and serving it to my chickens in order to reduce the heat on them, So is there any harm in that?
Another person narrates that his friend owns some chickens, and the frost may become severe and the water freezes in the waterers! but he does not care about that and leaves them scratching the snow. So can the snow affect their health?
Two conflicting stories, so what is true about chicken eating ice, is it a good thing, or does it have health risks for chicken? Let us cover the aspects of this topic and stand on the truth of the matter in the coming lines.
Can Chickens Eat Ice?
Yes, chickens eat ice. You can find many videos that show chickens scratching ice with enthusiasm. It may not be the best option. However, chickens are resourceful beings, as they can adapt to any situation to survive in order to preserve their lives.
On severe frosts, everything freezes and large amounts of ice are spread everywhere. It even freezes the water in the chicken waterers! However, there are multiple brands and styles of hot water buckets designed to prevent the freezing of water in the backyard chicken yard.
It has been found that they work well to keep water melting at 20 degrees Fahrenheit but that they all freeze when the temperature drops to -10 degrees Fahrenheit!
These inquisitive little creatures do not let themselves perish. but try to hydrate themselves and get water by scratching the snowballs around them. Even if it is not the best option for them especially in the time of frost when they are looking for any source of warmth.
The Importance Of Providing Fresh Water To Chickens
Water is the most important nutrient for chickens, or as it is said, it is the lifeblood of chickens. Chickens consume water about twice the amount of feed they consume daily on normal days. In hot weather, their need for water will double about 3 or 4 times.
Water makes up almost 58% of the chicken’s content while it’s 66% of the egg’s content!
Water is the medium in which nutrients are transported within the chicken’s body, waste removal, and body temperature regulation. In addition, water is a rich source of minerals. Water provides about 20% sodium, 15% sulfur needed by poultry and 7% calcium, and 5% of magnesium.
Therefore, providing a source of fresh water for poultry is not a luxury. but rather it is the most important priority in feeding chickens so that they can thrive.
Chickens do not need water only in hot weather, although this is taken for granted as it is a matter of life and death. However, it is also important to provide sources of warm fresh water in times of frost.
Here are some brief tips on how to maintain a freshwater supply in both hot and cold weather.
In Hot Weather
Provide more drinkers so that each bird can get water easily. It is also recommended to place the water in a shaded area so that it stays cool.
The water should be changed in the morning and evening and replaced with fresh cold water. Putting pieces of ice in the chicken water also helps to keep the water cold.
On Cold Days
When the water freezes, you have to think about a suitable option to avoid freezing the water that your chickens consume. Either using electricity to keep the water without freezing or using hot water buckets that make the water keep its temperature and prevent it from freezing.
If it is expensive for you, you can bring fresh water yourself twice a day or more, depending on the conditions, to your chickens. which is an ideal and economical solution for many.
Risks Of Feeding Ice To Chickens
Here is why you should think twice, before letting your chicken feed on ice:
1. Digestive Issues
When birds swallow large quantities of frozen material, their bodies work hard to resist the resulting extreme cold, and this may lead to disturbances in digestive functions as the stomach does not work efficiently in this cold environment.
Some may offer ice cream to the chickens to relieve them on hot days and this makes things worse. As the bodies of the chickens are not prepared to deal with dairy products that contain large amounts of sugar.
A large amount of sugar may cause serious problems for the chickens such as kidney problems, digestive problems, and bone weakness.
2. Decreased Egg Production
If a chicken eats ice in the frost to get water, it will use more ice for hydration, as several cups of ice hydrate its body with the equivalent of just one cup of water!
Chickens use their body heat of energy and calories to melt the ice, which represents a great burden on the chicken’s body, and affects its other productive functions, the most important of which is low egg production.
Are There Any Benefits To Feeding Ice To Chickens?
If the weather is hot, it will be necessary to try to reduce the heat burden on the chicken. You can use many other safe frozen meals that are similar to ice creams, such as sliced vegetables and frozen fruits such as berries, watermelon, bananas, cucumbers ,and cranberries.
If you don’t have fruits or vegetables and want to give your chicken a cold snack, you can use regular ice cubes.
Misconceptions Or Myths About Feeding Ice To Chickens
Some people think that chickens eating ice is very dangerous or expose them to death, but it is not that dangerous. As there are many chickens that live in open places and are forced to eat pieces of ice in the frost, and despite that they do not die!
We can only say that chickens cannot thrive if they eat large amounts of ice. Therefore, moderation is required in the sense of offering ice to chickens in hot weather only to cool their bodies and avoid global warming.