Chickens Won’t Eat

What happens when your chicken stops eating? This can be concerning for many chicken owners who don’t know why this is happening or how to address it.

Chickens can stop eating or consume too little as a result of the following situations:


The feeder is placed such that the feed is out of the birds’ reach.

Some chickens don’t get their fair share of food because there isn’t enough feeder space for the entire flock.

If you think your feeders might be the issue in your chicken’s suppressed appetite, check out my post, “Chickens & Feeders“.

Chicken Feed

Chickens may stop eating if their food is suddenly changed to something unusual or if it is rotten or moldy.

Chickens eat to get the energy they need. Chickens fed high-energy feeds quit eating before getting the protein, vitamins, and minerals they require.

A lack of vitamins or minerals in chicken feed might make flocks less hungry. For example, chicks who are significantly deficient in either vitamin B1 or salt simply stop eating.


If a chicken doesn’t have access to fresh water throughout the day, it will become dehydrated quickly and will be less likely to eat food due to decreased appetite.

Provide cool water in the summer and warm water in the winter to encourage drinking.


When hot summer temperatures hit, many chicken owners are left wondering why their hens have stopped eating. It’s a common occurrence that chickens will stop eating in the heat because they’re trying to decrease their metabolic rate.

Feeding some calories as fat instead of carbs during hot weather helps keep the chickens’ energy level up while reducing an increase in body heat brought on by digestion. (Fat requires less energy to process than corn and other carbohydrates do.)

Additionally, you can entice your chickens to eat early morning and late in the day, while it’s cooler outside.


Stress plays an important role in the health and well-being of chickens, as it can lead to a decrease in food intake. This is why it’s essential to understand how stress affects chickens and what steps you can take to reduce its effects.

If you think your chickens could be stressed, check out my post, “Chickens & Stress” for possible signs and causes of stress, and treatments.


Loss of appetite is a common early indicator of many illnesses.

For instance, one of the first indications that a chick has coccidiosis is that they eat less than you would anticipate from a growing chick.

Coccidiosis is an infection caused by the microscopic coccidia parasites, which can cause a range of symptoms in chickens such as diarrhea, decreased appetite, weight loss, low or no egg production, and even death.)

Since many illnesses make chickens less hungry, frequent feedings will aid in stimulating appetites. Also, make sure that healing chickens have an abundant supply of fresh, clean water.


Additionally, vaccines can affect a chicken’s appetite.

For example, after receiving the fowl pox vaccination, chickens eat less for up to 3 weeks while their immunity develops.

Sour Crop

Sour crop is a common ailment that affects chickens, particularly young birds.

It occurs when the crop, the muscular pouch at the base of a chicken’s throat, fbecomes inflamed and is unable to empty properly. This leads to the fermentation of food within the crop, causing it to become abnormally acidic.

A chicken with the condition becomes usually lethargic, stops eating, and in severe circumstances, could die.

Conclusion: Why Chickens Won’t Eat

There can be a variety of reasons why chickens stop eating, such as disease or an upset stomach due to poor nutrition.

It’s important to look out for any signs that could indicate something is wrong with your chickens, like diarrhea or changes in behavior.

Oftentimes, these issues can be resolved with medications prescribed by a veterinarian or an adjustment in diet and nutrition.