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How Long Can Chickens Go Without Food?

Backyard chickens are becoming more and more popular with each year that passes as people are starting to realise what an easy, cheap, and helpful food source having your own chickens actually are.

Although some people only get their own chickens for their meat and eggs, many people also keep them as they are excellent at controlling pests in your garden allowing you to grow your own vegetables and fruit with ease too.

With there being so many people who are new to keeping pet chickens, it should come as no surprise that we constantly see a wide range of questions from people based around offering their chickens the best care possible.

The happier and better cared for the chicken, the more reliable its eggs production can be so we understand why so many people are trying to learn so much about offering their chickens the best care possible.

One of the most commonly asked questions that we have noticed being asked time and time again is how long can chickens go without food?

Due to seeing so many easy to avoid mistakes being made when it comes to feeding chickens as well as how often you have to feed them, we have decided to publish this article going over the various ins and outs of feeding your pet chickens and how long they are able to survive without food to try and help our readers.

How Long Can Chickens Go Without Food?

Most chickens should be fed at least a small amount of food each day but can sometimes be left for two, three or even four days without you directly feeding your chickens depending on the situation.

This is due to chickens being excellent foragers if they are in an environment where they are able to forage for scraps and insects with them being able to often get a surprising number of calories from what they find for themselves.

We know that some people are not able to leave their chickens in their yard or garden to forage for their own food due to local cats and other predators though.

This is why some people simply choose to leave out enough chicken food so the chickens are able to eat as they see fit from their feeders for a few days without issue.

Keep in mind that water can also be a problem if you will be out of town for a few days, especially if it is a hot day so remember to leave your chickens plenty of water along with spare food too.

If you are able to leave your pet chickens to forage around though, garden ponds or aquaponics systems can often prove the chickens with plenty of water but a backup supply of clean drinking water is still highly recommended.

Can Chickens Go A Day Without Eating?

Healthy chickens that are well fed can easily go a day without eating although it is a good idea to ensure that they always have water.

Due to chickens eating so much, they shouldn’t have any major problems with going without food for a day or two and some people do actively fast their chickens for a day each week or two.

We fully understand that people are leading busier and busier lives so they will have to go out of town from time to time and leave their backyard chickens.

Unlike a cat or a dog, it can be hard to get a neigbour, friend, or family member to care for your chickens while you are away so we often see people just using a feeder kit for their chickens while they are away to make sure they have plenty of food and water.

If you are able to let your chickens forage around for food in your yard or garden then they should easily be able to find enough to eat to keep hunger pains away for a day or two.

There are plenty of bugs and plants that chickens seem to love eating in most gardens making it easy for your chickens to feed themselves if you do have to leave them.

How Often Should You Feed A Chicken?

Most chickens should be fed daily with most people choosing to use a high-quality chicken feed due to it offering a balanced nutritional profile for your chickens.

There are plenty of time-release devices available that you can fill up with chicken feed and then set the timer to feed your chickens when required too if you will not be available at feeding times throughout the day.

As we touched on earlier in the articles, more and more people who keep backyard chickens are also involved in growing their own fruit and vegetables in their gardens too.

Chickens can be a gardeners best friend as they can turn the soil and eat a suprising amount of bugs and insects in the garden that would otherwise be able to cause problems with your crops.

Keep in mind that most chicken breeds will scratch and dig to find these insects though and can cause problems with areas of your garden that have already been planted and are growing.

A common way to prevent these issues is to use some chicken netting to section off areas of your garden where you don’t want your chickens to forage for food to help you protect the crops you are actively trying to grow.

Do Chickens Need Feed If They Free-Range?

Although chickens are able to easily find all of the food that they could ever need by foraging in the correct conditions, it is very rare that people who keep backyard chickens have these optimal conditions.

This is why it is highly recommended that you supplement anything that your chickens are able to forage with actual chicken feed to keep your chickens healthy.

Thankfully, over the last few years, the price of chicken feed has fallen making it much cheaper to keep.

Using a high-quality chicken feed to supplement the diets of your pet chickens can be a good way to ensure that your chickens keep laying eggs on a regular basis as a chicken with a nutritionally complete diet will usually lay more eggs than a chicken with a deficient diet.

In addition to that, the eggs that a chicken who has a nutritionally complete diet lays will usually have a better balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids than a chicken that is on a deficient diet.

Even though many people presume that their chickens are foraging enough when they are free range, they can still be deficient in a number of essential vitamins and minerals so supplementing with a chicken feed is highly recommended.

Can Chickens Forage All Their Food In A Large Garden?

A well stocked, sizable garden may be able to support a small number of chickens without you having to supplement their diet with chicken feed, especially in the spring and summer months when there is plenty of growth with a large number of bugs and insects around.

This can allow you to leave your chickens for long periods of time without having to feed them without your chickens going hungry.

As we mentioned earlier in the article though, the majority of our readers simply don’t have gardens large enough to support even a small number of chickens without supplementing their diets with chicken feed.

In addition to that, without a permanent water feature such as a pond in your garden, keeping your chickens hydrated can also be problematic.

This is where cheap chicken feeder kits come in as it offers you a set and forget method of feeding and watering your chickens when you are not able to get home to feed them.

There are a huge number of different varieties of these feeders on the market these days allowing you to find exactly what you require for your chickens with ease no matter your budget.


That brings our article going over how long chickens can go without food to an end. We hope that we have been able to help our readers better understand how long they should be leaving their chickens without actively feeding them. We have seen some very poor advice on social media about just leaving chickens to forage for their food and as we explained above, foraging in a backyard or garden is usually unable to provide your chicken with enough food without its diet being supplemented with chicken feed.