How Long Can Chickens Go Without Food?

As responsible chicken owners, it’s essential to know what happens if they go without food, whether by mistake or because of scheduling constraints. But how long can chickens survive before running into irreversible health effects?

How Long Can Chicken Go Without Food

In this article, we dive deeper into how long chickens can go without food.

How Long Can Chickens Go Without Food

Duration Without Food Impact on Chickens
24-48  hours · Minimal impact, especially for healthy adult chickens
48-72 hours        · Decreased activity

· Weight loss

· Weakened immune system                       

72+ hours          · Severe weight loss

· Malnutrition

· Egg production decline

· Health issues      

As an approximation, chicks can survive 24 to 48 hours, while older chickens can go as far as 72 hours, depending on their health and well-being.

For the first 24-48 hours of food scarcity, the mature chicken’s condition is not altered significantly. However, it’s important to monitor their energy levels, which might decrease during this period since even a short time without feed impacts them negatively too.

From there onwards, that is ranging from 48-72 hours of no food, the scenario takes a downturn. These results come in both reduced activity levels and body weight becoming more visible due to their stored energy reserves. In which, another source of worry emerges when weaker immune systems expose them to illnesses abysmally.

The situation becomes more dangerous should they go beyond the 72-hour mark without food. It’s where visible long-term nutritional deficiency comes with significant weight loss since vital elements are necessary for optimal body functioning.

Egg production also becomes impaired severely with intensified malnutrition. It impacts overall health risks, especially metabolic disorders and reproductive issues.

Importance of Regular Feeding Schedule for Chickens

how long can a chicken go without food

Other than it’s cruel not to provide food for your flock, here is another importance of a regular feeding schedule.

Key to Productivity

As with most animals, irregular or imbalanced feeding is detrimental not only to the flock’s health but also to their productivity. It specifically stuns the production of many households that rely on chicken-raising for a living. If you’re keeping your chickens as a source of eggs, meat, or pullets, a regular feeding schedule is vital to your flock.

Limits Health Issues

Long-term effects such as growth issues, reproductive problems, and weaken immune responses are common with malnutrition. These results stand head-to-head with some short-term effects like stress and lethargy.

Flock Behavior

Chickens live in flocks and are mainly social towards each other. That said, an irregular feeding pattern can make them more and more aggressive, not just toward their flock members but other animals as well.

This is because with limited food comes stress and competition. So, to maintain peace on your farm, ensure everyone is well-fed.

Circumstances in Which Chickens May Go Without Food Temporarily

how long can chickens go without food

There are a few circumstances that may prevent or delay chickens from having regular access to food. Some of these include:

Sudden Weather Changes

Prolonged periods of rain, snow, and other natural catastrophes could interfere with accessing the feed. The supply chain can be stopped, and the food for your chickens might be limited.

Fluctuations in the weather can also invite pests such as rodents, which can take some of the feed from these feeders. It may not allow sufficient food for the chickens to be ingested until it is restocked.

Illness and Disease

Chickens with illness may go without food temporarily to reduce their body’s stress and help them heal more quickly. Ill chickens may require specialized remedies or feed, riding on their condition. So, feeding them during sickness might be counterproductive.

Factors Affecting Chicken Survival without Food

how long can chicks go without water

Not every chicken is built the same to survive food scarcity. So, here are some factors that might affect them, such as:

  • Age and Size: Newly hatched chickens and young chicks have limited energy reserves, putting them in a more vulnerable position than larger or mature birds when deprived of food. It’s because they typically contain less body fat for energy storage. Similarly, smaller-sized chickens usually do not have enough energy to last them for an extended period without any food.
  • Body Condition and Health Status: Chickens that are in robust shape and maintaining decent health are typically better at surviving short periods without food. Being poorly physically conditioned or ill can leave chickens defenseless against the bad results of malnutrition.
  • Environmental Conditions and Temperature: Colder temperature is a very dire situation in the face of less food. Chickens need all their energy to be focused on conserving energy. So, the cold will lessen that very fast.
  • Access to Water: Although food is important, something comes up before that: water. Chickens cannot survive more than a few days without food, but without water, most will die before three days.

How to Keep Chickens Feed if Food is Limited?

how long can chickens go without water

If chicken feed is ever not accessible, it is important to take steps toward protecting your chickens. Here are some handy tips:

 Foraging and Free-range Feeding

Allow your chickens the run of the yard. With their open ground to explore and hunt in, they’ll find an array of nutritious treats throughout the season. It can be an excellent source other than feeds, setting them up for amazing health benefits.

They can dig up food like crunchy bugs, ripe weeds or grass, and seeds to munch on. his natural feast helps fill any potential gaps in diet during less fertile times or into winter when food sources become scarce.

These foraged goods will help supplement an uncertain or inadequate diet and provide key nutrients when food is scarce.

Alternative Food Sources

You can offer them kitchen scraps that do not have any potentially toxic or dangerous elements. Scrap veggies, fruit peels, and leftover grains work well!

Implementing a Feeding Schedule

To make sure your chickens get a fair amount of food, ration the available supply. Break it into smaller portions and feed them on a regular schedule. A schedule will help stretch out your food and give each chicken a longer time to survive.

Provide Fresh Water at All Times

Chickens must have access to clean and fresh water even when food products are in short supply. Be certain you always give the chickens a plentiful amount of water. Be sure to inspect and refill their water containers regularly to make sure they remain hydrated, which will, in turn, support healthy digestion and health overall.

How to Prevent Food Deprivation in Chickens?

How to Prevent Food Deprivation in Chickens

If you’re invested in keeping your chickens healthy, strong, and productive, you must take proactive steps to guarantee they have enough food. Supplementing your flock with a stockpile of fascinating chicken feed is a great place to start. But, equally important is making sure it’s tucked away from the reach of rodents.

Also, make sure their food and water supply is not just available, but always clean. This will keep them away from disease and nutrient deficiency.

An auto-feeder can also prove incredibly valuable under normal circumstances. It makes setting exact amounts easier than ever while maintaining a steady daily feed supply. However, in a food scarcity situation, manual rationing might be required.


In the event of sickness or famine, chickens can be safe without food for about 72 hours. But, this statistic is an estimation. So, make sure to stock up on some feed and make sure that you have enough for the whole flock!

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