Why Do Chickens Always Seem Hungry?

Why is it that whenever you go into your yard with your chickens’ food, treats, or table scraps, your chickens will always seem hungry?

You can literally watch them finish a good-sized meal, then come out with more food and they still rush to you to see what you’ve got for them.

It’s quite comical. But have you ever wondered why they do this, and if it’s anything you’re doing wrong?

Don’t worry, it’s not you. Here’s why chickens always seem hungry, if it’s OK, and if chickens can eat too much.

Why Do My Chickens Always Seem Hungry?

When your chickens are acting like they are hungry all the time, your first thought may be “am I feeding them enough?”.

Although this seems to dwell on your mind a bit, it’s far from the truth. As a matter of fact it actually just comes down to a chicken’s biology and instinct.

That’s right. Just because a chicken always seems hungry, doesn’t mean that it actually is!

Chickens will only seem like they are always hungry as they are naturally opportunistic feeders, their digestive tracts can handle a lot of food, and your chickens absolutely love their food.

Here’s more.

Chickens Are Instinctual Foragers 

Chickens are instinctual foragers and opportunistic feeders. This is why they spend a good amount of their day foraging in the garden or backyard, constantly looking for anything they can get their beaks on!

Your chickens will eat dirt, grass or wildflowers, bugs like termites or spiders, or even small snakes. But funnily enough, this foraging behavior brings a host of great benefits to your chicken’s health and wellbeing. 

And, as it turns out, this foraging instinct explains why chickens always seem hungry when you come out with food for them. It’s because they were looking for food the whole time!

The thing is, even if they have food in their feeder, they will still be foraging, looking for more food – it’s just in their nature!

Chickens Digestive System 

A chicken’s digestive system ties in nicely with them being veracious forages. That is, it’s able to keep up and process large quantities of food over extended periods of time.

A chicken’s digestive system starts with the crop. The crop is a spherical organ that holds food before a chicken is ready to digest it. 

This allows chickens to eat all the food they want, and then slowly digest it at a time that suits them better, like when they are laying an egg or through the night.

When a chicken is ready, it will transfer the contents of the crop further to the gizzards and the digestive tract to extract the nutrients and energy, before it proceeds out the other end!

So, sometimes a chicken will seem like it’s always hungry, because most of its food may still be in the crop, and so the chicken’s body is still telling it to eat and find more food!

Chickens Love Treats

The humble chicken loves a good treat just like we humans do. Like us getting dessert, even after a big meal.

The same philosophy can be applied to chickens. 

Even if your chickens are completely full from their normal layer pellets or layer seed mix if you come outside with table scraps or treats there is no way they are saying no!

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that they act like they’re always hungry when you come out with their favorite foods.

Can Chickens Eat Too Much?

Chickens instinctively stop eating when they consume enough to sustain themselves throughout the day. Their bodies regulate the amount of food they eat to prevent them from overeating. 

So, even if you present your chickens with a whole pile of their favorite treats, they won’t finish them all!

However, just because chickens won’t overeat themselves, doesn’t mean they aren’t immune to obesity.

This is where the responsibility of the owner comes into play.

It’s vitally important that you feed your chickens the right kinds of foods, on a consistent basis. Nothing is more nutrient-rich, that also meets your chicken’s macronutrient requirements quite like a layer seed mix, or layer pellets.

If you consistently feed your chickens treats and other table scraps over their formulated feed, then you are increasing the likelihood of malnutrition. This can lead to overweight chickens, or even underweight chickens too!

So, it’s not so much that chickens will eat too much, but chickens may eat too many of the wrong types of foods which can lead to problems in the future!

In the same way, you can’t really overfeed baby chicks, so long as you are feeding them their normal chick starter.


Chickens are natural foragers and opportunistic feeders, so they’ll never say no to extra food. Plus, their digestive systems are literally built to handle constant feed. 

Still, be sure you are feeding your chickens the right kinds of foods, and not too many treats!

It’s also vital to let your chickens have enough time to exercise too. They will do activities like foraging and dust bathing, and generally, explore the confines of their yard!

Remember, even if your chickens always seem hungry, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are – it’s just in their nature!

Leave a Comment