Hydration Supplementation Can Help Boost Chick Health

ANALYSIS - Once hatched, Mother Nature has supplied chicks with a two- to three-day yolk sac supply of hydration and nutrition while chicks learn what to eat and drink.
calendar icon 12 September 2017
clock icon 4 minute read
Jeff Smith, Cackle Hatchery
Jeff Smith, Director of Marketing and Sales at Cackle Hatchery

For Cackle Hatchery, a hobby hatchery serving primarily the backyard poultry industry, there’s no guarantee of delivery date with the US Postal Service. Mother Nature didn’t anticipate her chicks getting boxed, trucked and/or flown to arrive at poultry enthusiasts across the country with some trips taking longer than three days.

“Our chicks spend more time at the hatchery than a typical production hatchery because they must go through a gender selection process and the time involved in packing smaller orders,” said Jeff Smith, Director of Marketing and Sales at Cackle Hatchery. “HydroGel™ 95 offers chicks that extra dose of hydration they can eat on their way to ensure they're not dehydrated upon delivery. If a delivery is delayed in transit, it certainly becomes critical.”

Unlike the commercial operations, Cackle Hatchery ships more than 200 varieties of poultry including show chickens that are often smaller and more delicate, with a tendency to dehydrate because of their lack of body mass. HydroGel 95 helps get them through the delivery cycle, said Smith.

Challenges of Hydration Supplementation

During the shipping process, it’s important the birds are hydrated, dry and have adequate body heat. They should be packed properly so they aren’t stressed, chilled or overheated during shipment.

Vital for any hydration supplement product is to hold its form, so that it doesn’t disintegrate or melt down into the bedding. If that happens, the shipping crate can become damp and cold, creating a poor environment for the chicks’ health and welfare as well as waste. Other hydration products being made from a powder mix or requiring refrigeration have had these challenges.

HydroGel95 Cubes
HydroGel 95 cubes provide convenient portioning

“With HydroGel 95, it arrives to us in a ready-to-use gel square that can easily be put in a press to make consistent cubes,” Smith said. “For our application, it works really well and has actually given us an edge over our competition because it gives our chicks that extra boost of hydration through shipping for a strong, healthy delivery.”

Once the order has been finalized – right before the lid is taped on – a HydroGel 95 cube goes in the chick box, and then they are shipped out for delivery. Smith said they typically use one cube for up to 13 chicks, but if using a larger sectioned box, two cubes are used for up to 27 chicks.

HydroGel 95 handling is convenient. The HydroGel 95 gel squares are conveniently packaged and room temperature shelf stable with long dating. The gel squares are pressed through a cutting device into uniform cubes in a bucket to provide the day’s supply as the Cackle Hatchery team processes their orders and stocks the shipping crates with hatchlings and HydroGel 95.

“They eat it up and it stays in their system, helping hold hydration in their body, until they begin consuming regular food and water,” said Smith. “It reduces mortality, improves livability and decreases weight loss. I’m very satisfied with HydroGel 95 – it’s a must for our business.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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