Why is My Chicken Not Eating?

Chickens are lovely birds that love eating. These birds spend plenty of time searching for food and hunting in crannies and nooks, scratching and pecking around. However, these birds may stop eating altogether.

Many things can make your chickens stop eating. For instance, your chickens can stop eating if they are stressed or have impacted crops.

9 Reasons Chicken Has Stopped Eating

Chickens can lose their appetite and cease eating for several reasons. Below are nine reasons why your chickens have stopped eating.

– Impacted Crop

An impacted crop occurs when your birds’ crops have a huge mass of food they can’t digest. Some of the foods that your chickens eat can fill up their crops, ultimately making the birds stop eating.

As a chicken keeper, it is easy to detect an impacted crop in your birds by feeling their crops with your hands. If the crop seems full, the chances of your chickens having an impacted crop are high.

Luckily, you can deal with an impacted crop by limiting the amount of fiber in your chickens’ diet. Although fiber can make your birds eat less, it can strain their crops if they eat too much fiber.

Furthermore, avoid giving your birds hard to digest because such feed will only fill up their crops, making them stop eating. For instance, peanuts and raisins are good treats for chickens.

However, the two are hard for chickens to break down. Free-range chickens are less likely to have impacted crops since they don’t have too much food at their disposal when foraging outside.

– Egg Bound Hen

Egg-bound hens may stop eating as they struggle to pass out eggs from their bodies. Egg binding in hens is rare, although it usually happens with some hens. There are several reasons behind egg binding in hens.

Hens lacking calcium, for instance, have a high risk of becoming egg-bound since their muscles aren’t strong enough to contract while passing out eggs. Obese hens have difficulties discharging eggs from their bodies since their muscles are weaker.

When your hens are egg-bound, they may look weak and show no interest in food. The abdominal strain that comes with egg binding can make your chickens too uncomfortable to eat. Furthermore, egg binding can be too painful for hens to eat or drink.

Consult a vet if you suspect your hens aren’t eating due to egg binding. Alternatively, you can help your egg-bound hens pass out their eggs by applying a lubricant around their vent areas. Check for signs of egg binding before concluding your hens are egg bound.

Some of the symptoms of your hens being egg-bound include straining, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

– Diseases

Diseases can cause loss of appetite and lethargy in chickens. Ill chickens may stop eating suddenly, ultimately becoming extremely weak over time. Coccidiosis, for instance, makes chickens feel pain and stop eating.

This contagious chicken disease can make your chickens stand still and keep them hunching up in pain for several hours. Furthermore, it can make your chickens keep their heads under their wings during feeding time.

Marek’s disease is another chicken disease that can make your birds stop eating. Chickens with this disease aren’t only unable to walk properly and maintain balance, but they are also unable to eat.

Furthermore, the disease makes chickens lose appetite even if you give them some of the finest food items. Avian Cholera also makes chicken stop eating. This disease can wreak havoc in your chickens’ digestive system, prompting them to stop eating.

Furthermore, it is painful, and chickens won’t eat properly due to the extreme pain from this disease. If your chickens aren’t eating due to illness, you can purchase some medication. However, you need to be quite sure of the type of disease your chickens are suffering from.

If your chickens are suffering from Salmonella, for instance, you can give them some antibiotics to help them combat this chronic disease. Alternatively, please consult your vet to diagnose and treat any illness that could make your chickens stop eating.

– Parasites

Chickens scratch themselves senselessly when they have a parasite infestation. If your chicken has a lice infestation, for example, it will spend a significant amount of time scratching itself to get rid of the lice. They won’t be eager to eat but rather concentrate so much on scratching their bodies as they struggle to get rid of the parasites.

Check for signs of parasite infestation if your chickens are constantly scratching themselves without taking breaks to eat. Parasites need proper treatment, which entails using chemicals to kill the external parasites in chickens. Internal parasites like work can also make your birds stop eating and therefore deworm your chickens regularly, at least monthly.

You can stop parasite infestations in your birds, which is much easier than eliminating parasite infestations. For instance, avoid overcrowding your birds since overcrowding causes an abundance of parasites, especially in small coops.

Clean your chicken coop at least weekly to stop parasites from breeding and infesting your chickens. Furthermore, remove the affected birds from the flock lest they spread parasites like mites and lice to other chickens.

– Bullying

Bullying is a common habit in chickens. New birds in your flock risk being bullied off food by other older birds. If you notice your new birds aren’t eating like other more senior flock members, it is certainly because of bullying.

Bullying can make new birds too timid to eat. Bullied chickens grow weak over time as a result of not eating. Ultimately, the only way to stop bullying in your flock is by separating the new birds in the flock from older birds.

Although bullying may seem to stop as the chickens get used to each other, the trend can continue longer than you expect. Furthermore, chickens can sustain injuries due to pecking on each other.

Such injuries are fatal, and they can lead to excessive bleeding, ultimately killing your birds gradually. Therefore, identify the birds with aggressive behavior and isolate them from the docile birds before they start bullying other chickens, especially during feeding time.

– Stress

Like humans, stress can make your chickens lose appetite and stop eating. Several things can stress your birds and make them less eager to eat. For instance, new arrivals in your flock can become stressed due to bullying by older flock members. Hens can also get stressed if they lack somewhere safe to lay.

Furthermore, egg-laying hens can feel and look stressed due to constant harassment by roosters. Due to stress, such hens may retreat to a safe place and stop eating like other chickens.

The presence of potential predators such as dogs, cats, and raccoons can make your chickens stressed. Free-range chickens have a high risk of getting stressed due to predators. Such hens may stop eating since they will spend time hiding away from predators.

Identify what is stressing your chickens and then fix the issue. If your chickens are becoming stressed because of fear of predators, look for ways of proofing their coop against predators. If your chickens have stress due to some aggressive chickens bullying them, consider isolating such aggressive birds from the flock.

– Physical Injury

Chickens with physical injuries are more likely to stop eating suddenly. If your chickens have injuries in their crops, for instance, they will experience debilitating pain that will prevent them from eating. Look for signs of physical injuries in your chickens if they stop eating unexpectedly.

Chickens with internal injuries also lack interest in food since they concentrate more on the pain they are going through than food. Physical injuries in chickens can be a result of infections and predator attacks.

They can also result from accidents, such as being hit by something or getting trapped in a fence. By looking at their droppings, you can detect whether your chickens have internal injuries.

If there are bloodstains in your chickens’ droppings, for instance, then your chickens could be having internal injuries. Consult your vet if you think your birds could be having an internal injury. For physical injuries such as injured wings and legs, you can care for the injured chickens by nursing their wounds.

Isolate the injured chickens and keep them in a safe place while nursing them. In the meantime, try feeding the injured chickens a proper diet to help them recover from injuries.

– Poisoning

Poisoning can make your chickens stop eating. Your birds won’t be eager to eat as usual if they eat something poisonous. For instance, rotten feed is toxic to chickens. Your birds may stop eating after ingesting rotten feed.

Free-range chickens are quite vulnerable to poisoning since many poisonous food items are out there. Such chickens are more likely to eat dead animals such as mice, ultimately poisoning their bodies. Don’t let your chickens eat anything toxic. Furthermore, keep your chickens from going to places where they can pick up poisonous food items.

Buy medication for your birds if they are suffering from poisoning. Although providing your chickens with various foods is healthy, be cautious about what your chickens are eating lest they suffer from food poisoning.

Dirty or contaminated water can also be toxic to your chickens. Such water harbors bacteria which is poisonous and deadly to chickens. Hence, ensure your birds are taking clean fresh water each day.

– Broody Hen

Broody hens are likely to stop eating since they spend long hours sitting on their eggs. No wonder hens lose a significant amount of weight while incubating their eggs. Furthermore, broody hens also drink less. These hens avoid eating food at all costs since they don’t want to ruin their eggs with their droppings.

Don’t worry if some of your broody hens in your flock aren’t eating. They will ultimately resume their normal eating habits after hatching. However, the problem starts when your broody hens can’t eat anything throughout the day since they will be at high risk of starvation in the long run.

What to Feed Chicken that Won’t Eat?

Chickens that won’t eat can’t just eat anything since they don’t have appetite as usual. Since such chickens still need to live, consider changing their diet. You can feed your chickens with their favorite treats if they don’t seem to eat.

For instance, sunflower seeds and millet are some of the finest treats for birds. Hand-feed your chickens with such treats to encourage them to eat. Please keep all the chickens that won’t eat in a quiet place and provide them with various nutritious treats.

Have water available for your chickens since dehydration can make your chickens stop eating.

How to Identify a Dying Chicken?

Over the years, some of the chickens in your flock can start dying due to many reasons, such as diseases, poisoning, and injuries. Chickens can at times die when you don’t expect your birds to die.

Luckily, you can tell if your chickens are dying and then take action to save your birds. Below are some signs of a dying chicken to check to know whether your chickens are at risk of dying.

  • Paleness– Paleness is a clear sign that your chickens could be dying. If your chicken’s face appears pale, as if the color is fading away, then your bird could be in danger of dying.
  • Purple combs– The color of a chicken comb can indicate whether the chicken is healthy or not. If the color of the comb turns gray or blue, it can be a sign of heart, lung, or blood flow problems. Chickens with purple combs are quite close to dying if their owners don’t intervene and save their lives.
  • Unable to move– The clearest sign of a dying chicken is the inability to move. Ideally, chickens are active birds, and they constantly move around, whether free or confined. If your chicken is unable to move, then it could be dying.
  • Weakness– If your chicken looks overly weak and inactive, it is most likely the bird will die within no time. Extremely unhealthy chickens are vulnerable, and their odds of dying are pretty high.


It isn’t unusual for chickens to stop eating. After all, these birds spend a significant amount of time eating. Several factors can make your chickens stop eating. It, therefore, helps to understand why your chickens have stopped eating and then figure out what you should do to make your chickens start eating.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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