How Long Can Chickens Go Without FOOD?

Chicken running through the grass
How long can chickens go without food? Today, we’ll answer that question and tell you everything you need to know about how long chickens can go without food. Keep reading to learn more!

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How Long Can Chickens Go Without Food?

chickens together
Chickens shouldn’t go without food for more than 4 days. After 2 days, the chickens will start to act lethargic and feel weak.
Chickens can go without food for up to 4 days, although this will vary depending on several factors such as the weather, their age and health, and the type of food they are used to eating. If the weather is freezing, chickens may need to be fed more often as they will use more energy to keep warm. Older chickens or those with health problems may also have a reduced appetite and must be given frequent meals. Finally, chickens eating a varied diet may become stressed if they suddenly switch to a monotonous diet of dry pellets or grain. In these cases, slowly introducing the new food over days or weeks is best. Here’s a video giving some tips on what you should do before you leave your chickens:

Read our related article, How Long Can Ducks Go Without Water? Water is even more vital to ducks than you may think.

Common Causes of Death in Chickens

Chickens are susceptible to several different diseases and health problems.
  • The most common causes of death in chickens include toxins, parasites, and viral infections.
  • Chickens are also vulnerable to stress and can die if they’re not given enough food or water.
In general, chickens need to eat daily and can go without food for up to 18 hours.
  • Finally, chickens are sensitive to temperature changes and can fail if exposed to extreme cold or heat.
If the temperature drops below 40 degrees or rises above 90 degrees, chickens can die from exposure.

Signs That a Chicken is Sick

Here are some common signs that your chicken may be ill.

A Decrease in Egg Production

chicken close up
Signs of illness can be everything from seeming extra sleepy to not producing eggs, and showing actual sick symptoms such as diarrhea.
If your chicken usually lays one or two eggs a day but suddenly stops laying eggs entirely, something is probably wrong. Read More: How Many Chickens Should You Have? Depending on how many eggs you use a day, here’s how many chickens you’ll need!

Loss of Appetite

If your chicken no longer shows interest in food or water, it’s a sign that something is wrong. Chickens typically eat about four ounces of food per day. If your chicken isn’t eating or drinking, it’s a sign of illness.


If your chicken is sleeping more than usual, not moving around much, or seems generally sluggish, it’s a sign of illness. Chickens are typically very active animals and enjoy being outdoors. If your chicken looks unusually sleepy or lethargic, it’s a sign that something is wrong.

Change in the Stool

Healthy chickens have brownish-green stool that is firm and dry. If your chicken has watery stool or diarrhea, it’s a sign of illness. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration and death in chickens, so it’s essential to seek veterinary care if your chicken has this symptom.

Sneezing or Coughing

Like humans, chickens can catch colds and other respiratory infections. If your chicken is sneezing or coughing more than usual, you should take them to the vet.

Nasal Discharge

If your chicken has any discharge from its nose (clear, yellow, green, or bloody), call the vet immediately. Nasal discharge can signify respiratory infection or disease, which can be fatal in chickens if left untreated.

Eye Discharge

If your chicken has any discharge from its eyes (clear, yellow, green, or bloody), you should take them to the vet immediately. Eye discharge can signify disease or infection, which can be fatal. Read More: Why Do Chickens Lay Unfertilized Eggs? Chickens lay fertilized and unfertilized eggs. Here’s the difference!

How to Treat a Sick Chicken

chicken face
Knowing the signs that can point to a sick or ill chicken can help you to act fast if you notice something off about the chicken.
Chickens are susceptible to several illnesses, but fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to treat a sick chicken.
  • The first thing you need to do is isolate the chicken from the rest of the flock. It will help to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Next, check the chicken for any illness, such as ruffled feathers, sneezing, or diarrhea. If the chicken appears ill, consult a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
  • In the meantime, you can take some basic measures to help the chicken recover.
Ensure the chicken has access to fresh water and food, and keep the coop clean and free of drafts. With a little TLC, most sick chickens will make a full recovery. Read our related article, How to Help a Duck With a Hurt Leg, for more tips on how to care for hurt barnyard birds!


So, how long can chickens go without food? The answer is not as straightforward as one might think. Chickens can survive for a few days without food, but their health and productivity will decline. It’s essential to ensure your flock has access to food and water at all times to keep them healthy and productive. Thanks for reading!

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