How Long Can a Chicken Live?

A: Pet chickens that are properly cared for can live a relatively long time. It’s common for a chicken in a backyard setting to live 8-10 years, but we’ve also heard reports of chickens living as many as 20 years!

Can a chicken live 20 years?

Countryside Daily claims that the average age is 8-15 but it’s possible for a chicken to live up to 20 years old ! … The main cause of a backyard chickens death is often predators. Illness is also an issue but predators definitely take out more hens than sickness.

What breed of chicken lives the longest?

Production breeds like ISA Browns live the shortest, while heritage breeds like Plymouth Rocks tend to live the longest. However there are a variety of factors that may affect your chickens’ lifespan such as their diet, genetics, access to veterinary care and disease.

How old is the oldest chicken alive?

After the documentation of Matilda’s age had been verified and substantiated, Guinness World Records proclaimed fourteen-year-old Matilda to be World’s Oldest Living Chicken on

Only recently has there been an explosion of folks that have started out keeping hens for eggs, only to find those bundles of feathers work their way into your heart and become family.

Today, we will take a look at the lifespan of the average chicken and talk about some of the things that can affect their longevity. In the mid to late 1800s, the man started collecting chickens and tinkering to meet human expectations.

We suppressed many of the wild behaviors, productivity increased, and chickens became a food source. Their lifespan can vary depending on a lot of reasons, so keep reading to learn why. They are bred to be natural layers, so their laying period can cycle over 2-3 years, perhaps longer depending on the breed you have.

Mate naturally Slow growth rate Have a longer, more productive outdoor life Come from pure stock Must meet the APA standard for the breed Other meat breeds such as the Red Ranger can be allowed to grow and commence laying if desired, depending on your requirements. Diseases of poultry are now much better understood, and as such, we as caretakers can do a lot of preventative things for our hens to keep them healthy.

You can perform preventative actions such as dusting and worming regularly or when you have a problem, whichever suits your management style. If you cannot closely inspect your flock every week, I recommend regular dusting to prevent infestations. They could freeze to death, be trampled by bigger animals, killed by predators, and a host of other indignities could be heaped upon them.

Nowadays, they have purpose-built coops in the backyard designed to keep them cool in summer and warm in the winter . No doubt, having safe, secure, and protective housing has expanded the lifespan of a chicken. Free from drafts, warm, dry and safe from predation has improved their lot not only physically but mentally too.

Commercial hens kept in warehouse conditions are more susceptible to respiratory disease because of the close quarters and dust and dander. As we have seen in the past few years, Avian Influenza has taken a huge toll on commercial poultry operations despite precautions being in place. From chick to old biddy, appropriate nutrition has played a tremendous part in increasing the lifespan of poultry.

In fact, todays hens may be a bit on the plump side from too much feed and/or treats this is becoming a problem for some breeds. It would help if you gave all treats in moderation, and exercise for the hens should be encouraged in reward games such as cabbage tetherball. Too much protein in the diet can cause kidney problems, so our hens turn into coop potatoes from scrawny self-sufficient birds !

A hen kept in a clean, dry, warm coop with adequate food and water will live longer. We have mentioned above that the manipulation of breeds to maximize egg output can hurt the species long-term survival. Diligent breeders who bring in new stock from unrelated lines try to increase the gene pool and create some diversity within the breed.

The longer you keep chickens, the more practice you will care for their feet, including bumble removals. Health checks, medication administration, and possibly stitching up small wounds are essential. As heritage chickens, their genetic makeup has been left pretty much intact since the breeds creation.

This is fortunate for the Easter Egger as it means they are more robust than many hybrids and can live for 8+ years. As a general rule, hens with good housing, food, and care should thrive and express their natural behaviors. When they are healthy and well cared for, their immune system is in great shape to fight any possible disease threats.

Home & Garden Garden How Long Do Chickens Live? By Christian Cotroneo Christian Cotroneo Social Media Editor Brock University Carleton University Christian Cotroneo is the social media editor at Treehugger. He is a founding editor at HuffPost Canada, and former writer at The Dodo and Toronto Star. Learn about our editorial process Updated March 11, 2020 The average chicken will live for between six and 12 years. Foxys Graphic/Shutterstock Share Twitter Pinterest Email Garden Urban Farms Planting Guides Indoor Gardening Insects The average chicken will live for anywhere from three to seven years. Why such a wide range? Mostly because there are so many different kinds of chickens living under a wide range of conditions. A well-cared-for hen that is kept safe from predators, for example, could live as long as 12 years. Chickens bred for meat, on the other hand, don’t enjoy nearly as long a life. Since there are so many breeds of chicken each with their own unique life span the question of chicken longevity is best approached on a case-by-case basis. Heritage versus hybrid hens In humanity’s ongoing quest to satisfy our cravings for chicken noodle soup, wings, thighs and nuggets, scientists have had to re-engineer the food chicken. In fact, in just 70 years, we’ve managed to build a brand-new chicken. It’s a bird with feet that never leave the ground, wings that scarcely flutter, and bellies that only grow bigger. It’s the hybrid hen perhaps, the world’s first purpose-built animal. And that purpose is eggs. Or drumsticks. At any given time, there are about 23 billion hybrid hens alive on this planet. But not for long. The U.S. Department of Agriculture allows companies to slaughter 175 birds per minute and considering our appetite for all things chicken, companies don’t let a second go to waste. Understandably, one thing these chickens aren’t engineered for is a long life. The Super Bowl is, after all, just around the corner. For chickens, like everyone else on this planet, quality of life goes a long way in ensuring a long life. Fahroni/Shutterstock As a result, the modern broiler chicken, also known as Gallus gallus domesticus, has a life expectancy of around seven weeks. Because that’s about when we like to eat them. Egg-laying chickens at least the kind that are raised on commercial farms have similarly abbreviated lives. They scratch out an average of two years before they start to slow down their egg production and make the transition to poultry. Even if an egg-laying hen avoids the slaughterhouse, it’s likely to succumb to other diseases associated with all that genetic tinkering, like reproductive tumors and egg yolk peritonitis. In contrast, what’s known as a heritage hen is similar to the chicken your grandmother may have had pecking around the back door. These are chickens that haven’t been bred for the dinner table. Nature alone holds sway over their genes. As a result, heritage hens live about eight years. They’re often kept in backyards, where there isn’t such an imperative to maximize egg production or bulking up their meaty bits. What factors play a role in a chicken‘s lifespan? While being born as a heritage or hybrid chicken is a pretty crucial factor in determining how long a chicken will live, there are plenty of other life-extending, or life-abbreviating, issues to consider. Health issues Chickens get diseases, too. While some infections caused by parasites like mites and ticks can result in skin-deep irritations, others can seriously curtail a chicken‘s life. Coccidiosis is chief among them. Spread by the eponymously titled Coccidian protozoa, the disease targets a chicken‘s gut. It ravages those intestinal cells to the point of extreme appetite loss and an inability to absorb nutrients. Another disease, called fowl pox, can stunt the growth of birds and perhaps even more critical to life expectancy dry up egg production. For a commercial egg-layer, nothing may be more dangerous to its health than an inability to lay eggs. Fowl cholera, also a chronic disease, goes mostly for a chicken‘s organs and joints. And, it can bring about sudden death in affected birds. Hens don’t have to stress it quite so much, as the disease is known to affect roosters more often than hens. Also, since it tends to hit more mature birds, those affected by it have likely lived to a ripe age already. Another life-shortening disease is salmonellosis, a bacterial disease affecting young chickens. In itself, it may not directly kill a chicken. But since humans are sensitive to salmonella-infected meat and eggs, an outbreak could result in a massive cull at its source. And let’s not forget about the headline-snatching avian influenza, or simply bird flu. A viral infection, it spreads not only from bird to bird, but also to humans and other animals. As with salmonella, mass chicken culls are the go-to response to bird flu outbreaks. Thousands of chickens many of them in the wrong place at the wrong time have been killed in the effort to stymie the disease. Boosting natural defenses Additives in food, particularly those that bolster the immune system, can go a long way toward protecting chickens from disease. Also, many chickens are immunized at an early age, with vaccinations proving successful against deadly diseases from fowl cholera to Newcastle disease. Keeping birds parasite-free is also essential to helping them live a long life, as mites and ticks are known to spread disease. Living conditions Food additives and vaccinations may play an important role in keeping a chicken around longer. But it’s also important to keep a chicken healthy, happy and sheltered. Safety first Want a chicken to lead a long life? Keep them safe from predators. Let’s face it, you’re not the only animal who thinks chickens taste like, well, chickens. Chickens running loose are easy prey for foxes, owls, raccoons and even dogs. Backyard chicken owners who haven’t built adequate physical protection for their birds are also known to lose them to the more-than-proverbial fox in the henhouse. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to keep them safe. Some tips, as Morning Chores notes, include: making the latch to their enclosure high off the ground and hard to open liberal use of chicken wire be vigilant for holes that appear in the fencing keep the coop closed at night keep a rooster around to sound the alarm bell and maybe even freak out a predator guinea fowl are even louder and more obnoxious than roosters Quality housing It’s one thing to build a fortress for chickens to feel safe inside, but a chicken‘s lifespan is also tied to its life quality. Housing plays a major role in that. Chickens need enough space in their coops to avoid being trampled by their nervous neighbors. They also need a temperature-controlled environment. Having a roof over one’s head to protect against snow and rain is always a good thing. But what happens when it gets sweltering hot under that roof? Likewise, a coop needs heating in bone-chilling winter. Even dust and dirt add up, causing respiratory issues for birds kept in tight quarters. Health professionals for chickens are hard to come by Just like seeing a doctor on the regular can help humans lead a long, healthy life, so too can a veterinary visit add to a chicken‘s years. The trouble is, it isn’t always easy to find a good vet for chickens. As pets, chickens still lag far behind dogs and cats. For most vets, the most exotic patient to scamper in the door would be a hamster. Hence, you have to look far and wide for a little professional help in times of medical distress. Often, chickens will pay for that dearth of medical assistance with their lives. The big breeds and how long they will live Housing, living conditions and access to medical care are key factors in determining whether a chicken will go the distance. Not to mention the very important distinction between a heritage hen and its hybrid counterpart. But genetics can be subtle. And whether a bird that isn’t bred for the dinner table lives an extra year or two may come down to its breed. Here are a handful of the most popular kinds of chicken: Rhode Island Reds If given the chance, a Rhode Island Red can get as many as eight years out of this life. Ariene Studio/Shutterstock Chances are you’ve seen a Rhode Island Red. Since it first showed up in America back in back in 1854 the product of a Malay rooster and a local chickens. Heck, it’s the state bird of Rhode Island. As the name suggests, these birds are clad entirely in dark red feathers. But being considered both an egg-layer and meat provider means these birds don’t exactly enjoy the longest lives. Still, a Rhode Island Red allowed to live out its life will typically scratch out more than eight years, according to the Happy Chicken Coop. Golden Comets Golden comet hens are famous for their egg-laying prowess. Karla Ferro/Shutterstock These gloriously named chickens dominate the egg-laying industry. And, as high-volume producers, they’re prone to all the health vulnerabilities that brings. Even if they don’t fall victim to a tumor in the digestive tract, they’re unlikely to reach their full natural lifespan. which is estimated to be 10 to 15 years. Wyandottes This speckled bird really puts the ‘dot’ in Wyandotte. Nick Beer/Shutterstock These pretty speckled fowl are also good egg-layers. But they haven’t experienced quite so much genetic tinkering. In fact, they’re still considered heritage hens which helps ensure they don’t fall under the commercial yoke, and the attendant premature death that brings. As a backyard chicken, a Wyandotte can live anywhere from six to 12 years. Orpingtons An Orpington chicken flashing its regal bearing at a New Jersey farm. Marge Sudol/Shutterstock.com Saddled with the kind of name you just want to say over and over again (Go ahead and try it at home OR-PING-TON’) the Orpington falls in line with other birds of a similar feather, eking out anywhere from five to, in exceptional cases, 20 years. As prolific egg-layers, however, they can also fall prey to the intestinal issues that come with the job. Plymouth Rocks No, it’s not a zebra chicken. Behold, the glorious Plymouth Rock. Jenny Pierce Photos/Shutterstock Who says chickens get no glory? This handsome bird was actually named after America’s crowning moment the disembarkation point of the earliest Pilgrims in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, this hen didn’t get to share in the wealth of the New World, being considered an excellent source of both meat and eggs. In fact, in the early 20th century it was the most popular chicken in the New World which definitely left a mark on its life expectancy. But this chicken, if left unmolested by egg and poultry lovers, could live for between 10 and 12 years. Jersey Giants The heavy hitters of the chicken world, a Jersey Giant can weigh in at 15 pounds. Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock We’d be remiss not to mention these titans of the chicken world. Okay, so, strictly speaking they’re not giant chickens, towering over humans and daring them to snatch one of their eggs. But they are, as far as chickens go, pretty tall customers. Like other animals that come in larger sizes, their lifespans are proportionally shorter. A Jersey giant, if well cared for, will likely live around six years. And how about those roosters? Roosters have an ornery reputation, but they’re also handy alarm clocks on legs. KOOKLE/Shutterstock Farmers generally don’t appreciate roosters. In fact, unless they don’t have an alarm clock and need to get up at the crack of dawn every day, farmers probably won’t let them live for long. That’s because roosters are considered a nuisance. And without the charm of laying eggs, they’re often unwanted among the flock. As such, a rooster’s lifespan is heavily influenced by environment. If that environment happens to be rooster-friendly, this outspoken bird will likely live as long as the average hen: between five and eight years. What about love? There’s one factor that’s often overlooked when it comes to helping chickens lead a long, healthy life. It’s probably the same unquantifiable factor that weighs on all humans and animals: The amount of love they get. No one can say for certain how much getting caressed and spoken warmly to impacts life expectancy. But backyard chicken owners swear by the virtues of kindness and how it keeps their feathered friends around a lot longer than anyone expected. “Never underestimate how much an animal is understanding; they are far and away more perceptive than most people think,” write one chicken friend in a forum for Backyard Chickens. So go ahead and love your chickens. Just try to avoid, if at all possible, kissing them. And if you happen to need any help cultivating a love for chickens, have a gander at this video:

There are plenty of factors that impact how long a chicken lives, including the threat of predation and varying flock dynamics, diseases, breed, and more.

While most diseases that commonly afflict backyard flocks arent deadly, there are some that can be quite dangerous or even fatal. Even minor issues, like parasites and lice, can slowly drain away the energy reserves of a chicken and reduce its overall lifespan.

For example, parasites like mites, lice, and worms can all cause skin irritation, feather damage, anemia, and discomfort. The avian influenza outbreak was one such example this epidemic killed 90% of its victims in crowded commercial settings. Many years ago, chickens used to live inside large barns with other types of livestock.

Some people didnt even maintain living quarters for their chickens at all but instead let them fend for themselves, further reducing their life expectancy. Nowadays, chickens have specially built coops that are made to protect them in the summer and winter months. In the past, chickens ate table scraps and whatever the farmer wanted to throw their way.

More wild behaviors were suppressed and while the creation of some hybrid chickens led to a decrease in longevity, other breeds saw an increase. This is dependent on a lot of other factors, of course, but statistically speaking, roosters dont live as long as hens. It must mate naturally and grow slowly and have a longer, more productive life when raised outdoors.

As a laid back, docile bird, it takes a lot to get the Orpington chicken too excited. This, however, may be somewhat anecdotal, as there are dozens of types of bantam breeds that you can choose from, all of which have different genetics and behavioral tendencies. Because of this, they are more likely to be raised in excellent conditions with all the food and water they want along with ample excess to fresh air and limited threats from predators and the weather.

The Golden Comet chicken is one of the best breeds you can raise if you want to produce a ton of eggs. They are prone to a variety of health issues related to their high egg production, including tumors in the digestive tract. Not only is it usually butchered off at twelve weeks, but its fast growth rate leads to a lot of health problems, like heart failure.

It is dependent on the length of the day and most hens stop laying during the fall and winter months when there is less than 12 hours of daylight available. Lots of people use lights in the coop to simulate artificial daylight, which can provide a boost in laying. However, some people speculate that it burns hens out more quickly and that they wont be as productive for as many years as a result.

Matilda lived from 1990 to 2006- thats sixteen years, and more than double the average life expectancy for a chicken! Unfortunately, most people dont get to experience the full life expectancy of a chicken because it never lives long enough to prove its abilities. Be mindful of your birds living conditions and make sure their home is clean and sanitary at all times to reduce this threat.

Chickens ancestors are wild birds, whose life expectancy was only a few years at best due to natural predation.

History of Hens and Life Expectancy

Hens have not always been ‘pets.’Only recently has there been an explosion of folks that have started out keeping hens for eggs, only to find those bundles of feathers work their way into your heart and become family.The ancestors of our hens were wild birds, and as such, life expectancy was short. If they could survive predators, hunger, and other life-threatening events, they could actually live 2-4 years at most.In the mid to late 1800s, the man started collecting chickens and ‘tinkering’ to meet human expectations. We irrevocably altered the chicken’s life.We suppressed many of the wild behaviors, productivity increased, and chickens became a food source.So nowadays, the lifespan of a backyard chicken can be anything from 3-10+ years. Their lifespan can vary depending on a lot of reasons, so keep reading to learn why.

Factors Affecting Life Expectancy

Heritage hens are hens that have been raised and bred naturally with their own kind. The benefits of heritage hens are many, including a longer life span.They can be expected to live for up to 8 years.They are bred to be ‘natural’ layers, so their laying period can cycle over 2-3 years, perhaps longer depending on the breed you have.Their bodies and genetic content haven’t been ‘hybridized’ too much, so they are likely to live much longer than hybrids.To meet theAlmost all hens, including heritage hens, have been developed by poultry folk at some point in their history.But once the standard is ‘set,’ very little will be done to alter the accepted bird.Hybrids, on the other hand, have been manipulated by humanity to be productive layers. Their laying cycle is pretty much done by the second year.They were created specifically for the egg-laying industry starting during the 1940s. The goal was to get hens to maximize production, and when they were done laying, farmers sent them to the slaughterhouse.Sadly, because of the manipulation of their egg-laying abilities, hybrids are much more likely to die fairly young from reproductive tumors, egg yolk peritonitis, and other reproductive tract issues.Industrial or commercial hens are done at 18-24 months of age. After this age, peak production is on the wane, and the hens are considered ‘spent.Even though they will continue to lay for another 12 months or so.Financially they become a loss rather than an asset and are ‘retired’ to the slaughterhouse to become pet food.Meat birds have a concise life. Some breeds can be butchered as early as 5 weeks.Other meat breeds such as the Red Ranger can be allowed to grow and commence laying if desired, depending on your requirements.

Disease

Diseases of poultry are now much better understood, and as such, we as caretakers can do a lot of preventative things for our hens to keep them healthy.Parasites such as mites, lice, and worms can all adversely affect the health of our flock. Mites will suck blood, causing discomfort and anemia.Lice can cause skin irritation and feather damage, and worms can, in extreme circumstances, kill a hen.You can perform preventative actions such as dusting and worming regularly or when you have a problem, whichever suits your management style.If you cannot closely inspect your flock every week, I recommend regular dusting to prevent infestations.There are still, of course, diseases which we can’t do much about, such as Mareks or lymphoid leucosis.But with careful management, we can prevent the spread of such viral diseases.

Housing

Chicken housing has come a long way since Grandma’s day. Back then, the chickens would likely share the barn with the larger livestock.They made their living from whatever was available to them. They could freeze to death, be trampled by bigger animals, killed by predators, and a host of other indignities could be heaped upon them.Nowadays, they have purpose-built coops in the backyard designed to keep them cool in summer and warm in the winter.They are sheltered from the worst of the weather and given bedding specifically for them – such luxury! No doubt, having safe, secure, and protective housing has expanded the lifespan of a chicken.Free from drafts, warm, dry and safe from predation has improved their lot not only physically but mentally too.Commercial hens kept in ‘warehouse’ conditions are more susceptible to respiratory disease because of the close quarters and dust and dander.Fresh air is essential in keeping respiratory problems at bay.As we have seen in the past few years, Avian Influenza has taken a huge toll on commercial poultry operations despite precautions being in place.

Diet and Nutrition

This is another area where tremendous progress has been made.Chickens used to subsist on whatever they could find in the way of grains and morsels, plus whatever the farmer might toss their way.Today’s poultry diet is specifically manufactured for every stage of life.From chick to old biddy, appropriate nutrition has played a tremendous part in increasing the lifespan of poultry.In fact, today’s hens may be a bit on the ‘plump’ side from too much feed and/or treats – this is becoming a problem for some breeds.Overweight hens are prone to health issues such as leg and back problems, heart problems, and respiratory issues.It would help if you gave all treats in moderation, and exercise for the hens should be encouraged in reward games such as cabbage tetherball.Too much protein in the diet can cause kidney problems, so our hens turn intoOverfeeding aside, the nutritional value derived from the commercially manufactured feed helps to give a great start to chicks and helps maintain hens throughout their lives.

Environment

The conditions in which a hen is kept will ultimately contribute to her long-term health.Longer than the neighbor that is kept in filthy conditions, with marginal nutrition fending for herself.

Genetics

We have mentioned above that the manipulation of breeds to maximize egg output can hurt the species’ long-term survival.Bird breeding can be tricky with breeds that have a small genetic pool. Oftentimes birds are interbred excessively to the detriment of the species as a whole.This clearly impacts lifespan.Diligent breeders who bring in new stock from unrelated lines try to increase the gene pool and create some diversity within the breed.But it is a long and costly process and fraught with failures and disappointments.

Veterinary Care

Hens were always the ‘poor relations’ of the barnyard. They really weren’t considered ‘livestock’ until well into the 20As we paid such little attention to their welfare and health issues. Thankfully much progress has been made about the study of the humble chicken. As a result, diseases and wellness issues are now much better understood.Although they are stillAs the keepers of the flock, we can do much in first aid for our hens. The longer you keep chickens, the more practice you will care for their feet, including bumble removals.Health checks, medication administration, and possibly stitching up small wounds are essential.You can usually take care of minor things at home before they become larger problems that may require more extensive care from a veterinarian.

Popular Breeds and Their Life Expectancy

As always, it’s hard to choose 5 popular hens – we love them all!

Rhode Island Reds

These are hardy, prolific egg layers and talkative birds. There are 2 lines of Rhode Island chickens.The most common is the production line to talk about them.As heritage chickens, their genetic makeup has been left pretty much intact since the breed’s creation.They can live 8+ years in ideal surroundings and with adequate nutrition and care.

Wyandottes

Another heritage hen with a good genetic profile.If this hen is given good care and nutrition, she should live to 6+ years.

Golden Comets

A delightful chicken created for high production. As a hybrid that can produce an egg per day, they can literally lay themselves to death.They are prone to reproductive tumors and other problems. If they live to 5 years, they are considered old.

Orpingtons

The fluffy backyard favorite! Orpingtons are a heritage breed, so they tend to have longer life spans than hybrids.Orpingtons are generally mellow and can live 8+ years under ideal circumstances.

Easter Eggers

These darlings are cross-breed or hybrid hens.However, although they lay colorful eggs and many people buy them just for the colorful eggs, they were never meant for high egg production.This is fortunate for the Easter Egger as it means they are more robust than many hybrids and can live for 8+ years.

What Factors Affect a Chicken’s Life Span?

Here are a few of the most common factors that affect how long chickens live:

Disease

While most diseases that commonly afflict backyard flocks aren’t deadly, there are some that can be quite dangerous or even fatal. Even minor issues, like parasites and lice, can slowly drain away the energy reserves of a chicken and reduce its overall lifespan.For example, parasites like mites, lice, and worms can all cause skin irritation, feather damage, anemia, and discomfort. To help reduce these problems and enable your chickens to live longer, fuller lives, try to worm and dust your chicken coop on a regular basis and feed a healthy, nutritious diet.The various diseases of poultry have been studied extensively in recent years, the results of which show that hens that live in crowded living conditions are more likely to suffer from communicable diseases. The avian influenza outbreak was one such example – this epidemic killed 90% of its victims in crowded commercial settings.

Housing and Care

Luckily, this isn’t a factor that comes into play very often anymore when you are considering the lifespan of a chicken. Chicken housing is far better than what it used to be. Many years ago, chickens used to live inside large barns with other types of livestock. Although there are some benefits to do this, it was very easy for chickens to be trampled on by the larger animals.Plus, predators could often get inside and chickens could even freeze to death. Some people didn’t even maintain living quarters for their chickens at all but instead let them fend for themselves, further reducing their life expectancy.Nowadays, chickens have specially built coops that are made to protect them in the summer and winter months. Your chickens will not only be protected from the most extreme conditions, but they’ll have secure protection from predators, too.Similarly, good veterinary care can make the difference between a chicken that lives for one year and one that lives for ten. Chickens are living longer lives simply because they are being cared for properly and there is more attention devoted to disease prevention and treatment.

Nutrition

Another way in which the life expectancy of a chicken has increased is in diet and nutrition. In the past, chickens ate table scraps and whatever the farmer wanted to throw their way. Now, however, chickens have access to food that is specially formulated for each unique stage of life. This nutrition helps optimize a chicken’s growth so that it can thrive.There are ways you can manipulate the diet of your chickens to help them live longer, healthier lives. For instance, you may want to avoid feeding too many treats, as it can lead to obesity, and you might also want to avoid excess protein, too. Not only can this also lead to weight issues, but it can also create kidney problems.

Genetics

“Back in the day,” chickens were not raised as pets. They were raised for eggs and occasionally, for meat, too. Very little attention was given to a chicken’s life expectancy, health, or other genetic traits. A chicken was merely a chicken.Starting in the 19th century, people started collecting chickens and playing around with their genetics to see if they could better meet our needs and expectations as humans. More wild behaviors were suppressed and while the creation of some hybrid chickens led to a decrease in longevity, other breeds saw an increase.There are some chicken breeds and individual lines of chickens that, due to their breeding over time, simply live longer than others. On the flip side, some breeds have been interbred so much that it dramatically reduces their lifespan.

Breed

Another factor to consider in addition to genetics is the tenacity and intelligence of the breed. Although it sounds a bit cruel to say, there are some chickens that are simply smarter than others. Some chickens are very attentive to their surroundings – especially when free-ranging – while others will wander blindly into danger.Many of these characteristics are passed down through a breed and can help increase a chicken’s overall lifespan. A smart bird is much less likely to fall victim to a predator, so it’s a trait that is highly desirable when it comes to evolution.Keep in mind that while these traits are often breed-specific, they can also be specific to just one or two individuals in a flock, too – if you can, try to make sure you keep those chickens on as breeders. Those are great traits to have!

Gender

A final factor that can affect chicken longevity? Gender. As is true in the human world, the guys just don’t live as long as the ladies. This is dependent on a lot of other factors, of course, but statistically speaking, roosters don’t live as long as hens. This is likely because of their tendency to charge toward a threat instead of run away – which can lead them to fall victim to a variety of threats.However, if raised in the exact same conditions as hens where no outside threats are present, a rooster has the capability (health-wise) to live just as long as a hen.

Breed Impact: Heritage vs. Hybrid Chickens

If you’re new to raising chickens, you might be confused about the difference between hybrid and heritage chickens. While heritage chickens are those that have been bred and raised naturally, hybrid chickens are those that have been selectively bred for specific characteristics.Heritage chickens are natural at laying eggs and can cycle their laying over a period of two to three years- or sometimes even longer. Hybrid chickens, on the other hand, lay hard and then fizzle out. They don’t live as long as heritage chickens.There are several qualifications that a chicken breed must meet in order to be considered a “heritage” breed.It must mate naturally and grow slowly and have a longer, more productive life when raised outdoors. It must meet the American Poultry Association standard for the breed and come from pure stock, too.Almost all chickens have been developed by poultry breeders over time – yes, even heritage chickens – but there has been very little work done to alter heritage breeds after the standard has been set with the American Poultry Association.The same is not true of hybrid chickens.

Rhode Island Red

A classic heritage breed, the Rhode Island Red can be raised for both eggs and meat. Since it is a heritage chicken, it’s genetic lineage is more or less the same as it was when it first came about.These chickens can handle most weather conditions and tolerate both confinement and free-range settings well. When cared for properly, they can live eight years or more.

Wyandotte

The Wyandotte is another dual-purpose chicken that can be raised for both meat and eggs. When it is raised properly, it can live for six years or more.

Orpington

Another favorite heritage breed is the Orpington chicken. This bird can live much longer than the average bird of other breeds. As a laid back, docile bird, it takes a lot to get the Orpington chicken too excited. It can live for eight years or more when raised in ideal conditions!

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rocks are hybrid chickens that are known for being some of the longest-lived of all of their flock mates. They can live for ten to twelve years if they are raised in the proper conditions!

Bantams

Many chicken keepers argue that bantam chickens live longer than any other breeds. This, however, may be somewhat anecdotal, as there are dozens of types of bantam breeds that you can choose from, all of which have different genetics and behavioral tendencies.However, there is some truth to this, too. Bantam chickens are much smaller than average chickens, so they don’t have as much mass to maintain. Heavier, large-bodied chickens tend to meet their demise much earlier, so bantams might have an advantage here.Some of the reason why bantam chickens live longer could have to do with how they are raised, too. Bantams are usually raised as pet chickens and not for egg or meat production of any kind. Because of this, they are more likely to be raised in excellent conditions with all the food and water they want along with ample excess to fresh air and limited threats from predators and the weather.On average, bantams can live ten years or more before you’ll have to say goodbye.

Old English Game Fowl

Old English Game Fowl are rare, but highly prized among poultry breeders. These chickens tend to be quite aggressive and difficult to raise for people who are new to raising chickens. They were bred during the Middle Ages especially for cockfights – these chickens really know how to fend for themselves!Because of this, they live long lives. Some live for thirteen to fourteen years- or more. However, you’re not likely to find them in most flocks, as they are so difficult to keep in captivity.

Golden Comets

The Golden Comet chicken is one of the best breeds you can raise if you want to produce a ton of eggs. These birds are some of the best at laying lots of eggs, but unfortunately, they won’t do so for very long.These chickens only live for a few years on average. They are prone to a variety of health issues related to their high egg production, including tumors in the digestive tract.

Jersey Giants

The Jersey Giant is a heritage breed that was developed sometime in the late 19th century. Despite being a heritage breed, however, it’s not one of the longest-lived. Because this chicken is so large, it has a short lifespan – often, it will only live for five to six years, even if raised in picture-perfect conditions.

Cornish Cross

This hybrid chicken breed is another to cross off your list if you’re interested in raising chickens until they are geriatrics!Raised predominantly for meat, the Cornish Cross grows to massive sizes very quickly. Because of this, it isn’t known to live much longer than a year or soi. Not only is it usually butchered off at twelve weeks, but its fast growth rate leads to a lot of health problems, like heart failure.

How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

Most young laying hens – known as pullets until they are one year old – start laying eggs when they are roughly 18 weeks of age. This can vary, with some chickens waiting until six months to start laying and others (usually hybrids) that start laying at just 16 weeks.This production carries on for several years. It is dependent on the length of the day and most hens stop laying during the fall and winter months – when there is less than 12 hours of daylight available.This depends on the breed, though, and on the conditions in which the hens are raised. Lots of people use lights in the coop to simulate artificial daylight, which can provide a boost in laying. However, some people speculate that it burns hens out more quickly and that they won’t be as productive for as many years as a result. The natural pattern is for hens to stop or slow their laying during the winter.Most hens lay eggs until they are about three years old. Production will start to taper off after that point. Some breeds that are known for laying a lot of eggs – including hybrid chickens like Golden Comets – may stop laying even sooner, at around two years.