Many chicken keepers wonder if they can feed baking soda to their hens to improve their immunity, boost their digestive health, and increase egg production.
You might have also considered the question ‘Can chickens eat baking soda?’ when you want to mix it with their feed to deter pests.
In any case, this guide is for you. You will learn whether baking soda is safe to feed chickens, how much to feed, and other related topics.
Can Chickens Eat Baking Soda? (The Quick Answer)
Yes, chickens can eat baking soda in moderation. Feeding baking soda to chickens has many benefits, such as increased resistance to diseases, lower stress, improved digestibility, and better pH and electrolyte balance. It also enhances egg production and increases the strength of the eggshells. Adding baking soda to your chickens’ feed also keeps pests away. Please note that too much baking soda can be bad for your hens.
What Is Baking Soda?
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, has been around since the dawn of time! It is an inexpensive mineral that has numerous uses. It is used in baked goods like bread, cakes, and muffins. You also have baking soda in toothpaste and household cleaners. Some people even bathe in baking soda! Therefore, it is little wonder that baking soda can be great for chickens.
Kathy Shea Mormino, the author of the book The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens, recommends baking soda for birds that eat less in the hot summer months. Doing so helps facilitate calcium absorption, restores the flock’s body chemistry, and improves eggshell quality.
9 Benefits of Feeding Baking Soda to Chickens
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, can benefit your chickens in the following ways.
Benefits of Feeding Baking Soda to Chickens
Increased Resistance to Diseases
Baking soda is known to boost chickens’ immunity by helping them cope with heat stress, lowering cortisol, and also regulating their acid-base balance. This helps them fight diseases.
Some experts also suggest that supplementing chickens’ diets with baking soda can make them more resistant to viruses that cause deadly infections like Newcastle disease.
Baking soda helps alter the pH balance in the hens’ digestive systems and creates a more favorable environment for enzymes that break down proteins. This helps improve the digestibility of proteins and prevents crop impaction and other digestive problems.
Improved Nutrient Absorption
By aiding digestion, baking soda indirectly helps your chickens with enhanced nutrient absorption. When proteins and other nutrients are better broken down, the chicken’s digestive system can absorb these nutrients more efficiently. This means that your hens get the vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. they need for optimum growth and well-being.
Baking soda contains sodium, which helps maintain electrolyte balance in chickens. Balanced electrolytes help regulate water levels and pH throughout the bird’s body and assist with many bodily functions.
Reduction in Stress Hormones
Some sources suggest that baking soda may help lower stress hormones like cortisol in chickens. Lower stress levels can positively impact their overall health and egg production.
Enhanced Egg Production and Shell Strength
Since baking soda improves the overall health of the hens, it also indirectly impacts egg production. Some preliminary studies also showed that baking soda-fed egg layers improved the quality of the eggs and produced stronger egg shells as well.
Reduced Water Consumption and Improved Litter Quality in Broilers
Adding baking soda to broiler feed might reduce water consumption. This could be beneficial for maintaining litter quality and reducing moisture-related issues in the coop. Less moisture also means less ammonia and better overall hygiene.
Improved Breeding Efficiency
Baking soda could aid in weight gain in weak chickens and also result in a better carcass grade. This, combined with the improved immunity of the birds, could contribute to more efficient breeding practices in poultry farming.
Many backyard chicken keepers add baking soda to their chicken feed to deter pests like rats, mice, and bugs from infesting it. Baking soda’s alkaline nature is unappealing or harmful to these pests and helps keep the feed safe and clean.
Dangers of Adding Too Much Baking Soda to Chicken Diets
Large quantities of baking soda can harm your chickens in the following ways:
Could Cause Digestive Issues
Since baking soda neutralizes stomach acids, it can cause digestive issues in hens, especially if they eat it in excess. Some hens are known to suffer from gas and bloating due to too much baking soda in their feed.
Could Impact Eggshell Strength
Since baking soda impacts pH balance in hens, it can also affect nutrient absorption, especially when consumed in excess. In egg layers, this could impact calcium absorption. Calcium is vital for laying hens and plays a key role in eggshell formation. Too much baking soda could result in weaker eggshells.
Could Harm Bone Health in The Birds
Another risk of feeding too much baking soda to chickens is that it can interfere with calcium and phosphorus absorption, which could result in weaker bones.
Due to these reasons, it is important to use baking soda for chickens in moderation and only after consulting your vet.
Is Baking Soda Good To Add to Chicken Water?
In moderate amounts, adding baking soda to chicken water can be beneficial, especially during hot summer months. The extreme heat can sometimes lead to conditions like acidosis in chickens, where the blood becomes too acidic. Baking soda, when used in moderation, can help balance the pH levels in the digestive system, aiding in preventing acidosis.
A recommended ratio is about 0.1-0.5% baking soda in their water to maintain moderate levels. This amount can be effective without posing any harm to your chickens. However, it’s crucial to monitor their intake and not exceed this ratio. Too much baking soda can upset the delicate balance of their digestive system, leading to potential health issues.
Always observe your chickens’ behavior and health when introducing any new elements to their water. If needed, consult with your poultry veterinarian for personalized advice based on your flock’s specific needs and environmental conditions.
Is Baking Soda Good For Heat Stress In Chickens?
Yes, poultry experts like Dr. Rob Marshall recommend the moderate use of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda to prevent heat stress acidosis in chickens. To prevent heat stress, he recommends the following remedy when the temperatures soar above 40 degrees C or 104 F.
To 2 liters or half a gallon of water, add 20 ml of apple cider vinegar and 5 teaspoons of baking soda. The potassium in the vinegar will encourage your birds to drink more, while the soda will boost your birds’ resistance to heat stress by maintaining electrolyte balance.
Can I Put Baking Soda in My Chicken Coop?
Please avoid putting baking soda in your chicken coop. While it might seem like a good idea to control odor or promote cleanliness, it is not safe for your feathered pets. Baking soda can impact the soil’s pH balance and can be harmful to chickens if ingested in large amounts. Excessive soda intake can lead to health problems such as dehydration and mineral imbalances.
Moreover, baking soda is alkaline, which means it has a high pH level. This alkalinity can interfere with the delicate balance of the soil in the coop. If your birds peck at it, it could affect their delicate digestive systems and their overall health. Too much baking soda may affect their bone health and could even influence the strength of their eggshells, making them more susceptible to breakage.
Ensuring a clean coop and managing odors can be achieved through other safer methods like regular cleaning, proper ventilation, and using chicken-friendly bedding materials. You can also sprinkle some diatomaceous earth powder with pine shavings and some vanilla air freshener. These approaches are more effective, smell wonderful, and won’t pose any risks to your chickens’ health.
Key Takeaways – Is Baking Soda Safe for Chickens?
Yes, baking soda is safe for chickens, but in moderation. When used in the right quantity, especially in the summer months, baking soda can improve feed digestibility, enhance protein and nutrient absorption, and fortify eggshell strength. It can also prevent heat stress acidosis and protect your flock from diseases like Newcastle disease.
On the other hand, overconsumption of baking soda can result in digestive discomfort, like gas formation, and hinder calcium absorption. Calcium is critical for bone health and the formation of sturdy eggshells in laying hens.
Always strike a balance and monitor your birds closely for any reactions to baking soda.