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!
How long do chickens live for as pets?
Chicken lifespans vary widely, with most hens generally living between 3 and 7 years. However, with ideal care, they may live even longer. If a chicken is kept safe from predators (including dogs) and doesn’t have genetic issues, they can certainly live 10 to 12 years old.
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.
How long do chickens lay eggs and live?
As hens age they will naturally start laying fewer eggs with many hens slowing down production around 6 or 7 years of age and retirement shortly after. Many laying hens can live several years into retirement with average life expectancy between 8 and 10 years.
Can chickens live 30 years?
Chicken Lifespan. Biologically speaking, most chickens can potentially live for 30 years. But the average backyard chicken lives for 5-8 years, barring any predation or illness.
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.
While recent events have only accelerated the trend towards city-dwellers, urban gardeners, and suburbanites keeping their own chickens, buying any animal based on a trend or whim is a dangerous proposition. Odds are that the chickens will happily survive, and people who only bought them for something to do while stuck at home will suddenly have a new problem: a coop full of chickens they no longer want.
This means a lot of production birds, especially the modern hybrids, are laying eggs almost every day for 18 months or two years and then stop or reduce capacity dramatically. This is fine for an industrial set-up where the bird can simply be replaced once she stops laying eggs, but less than ideal for many backyard homesteaders who want a steady supply over several years.
Your best bet is probably a local farm that already keeps chickens on a large scale, somewhere where adding your flock to the mix wont require major recalculations. The local animal shelter is likely not equipped to take care of a flock of chickens, but depending on where you live there may be organizations that specialize in rescuing and rehoming unwanted livestock
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another heritage hen with a good genetic profile.If this hen is given good care and nutrition, she should live to 6+ years.
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.
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.
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.
How Long Do Chickens Live?
The question “how long do chickens live” is almost impossible to answer with any certainty. Despite the best preventive measures, any hen might succumb to an illness, pick up a parasite, or be killed by a predator at any time. Life expectancy can also vary based on living conditions and many other factors, like genetics, that chicken owners are simply unable to account for. That said, there are a few constant factors that allow us to estimate the approximate life expectancy of a hen based on breed, size, and laying capacity.Like dogs, small chickens live longer than larger ones. The reason for that is that bantam and dwarf birds have much less body mass to maintain than, say, a Brahma hen. So their bodies are doing less work and wear out more slowly. Many bantam birds can live to 10 years old or more if properly cared for. But there are variations within breeds that can make all the difference in the world.Breed variation is probably the biggest factor in how long a chicken will live and the most reliable indicator of their natural lifespan. A lot of heritage breeds are relatively hardy and long-lived; Rhode Island Reds can live for almost eight years. In contrast, high-production hybrids and other birds selected to have specific traits will tend towards shorter lifespans. Part of this is that when humans breed selectively for a specific trait such as high egg production or gorgeous feathers, they tend to also produce other traits as a side effect. This might include a tendency towards disease or illness that can drastically shorten a chicken’s lifespan.The third factor with the biggest impact on chicken life span is egg production. In the same way that larger birds need more energy and their bodies need to do more to stay alive, a chicken that lays five or six eggs a week uses up a lot of energy and nutrients to produce those eggs. At a certain point, the best care and diet in the world won’t make up for this, and that chicken is more likely to live to four or five years old instead of eight or nine. This principle is perhaps best demonstrated by Matilda, the previous world record holder for oldest chicken. She died in 2006 at the ripe old age of 16, having never laid a single egg.There are exceptions to this, like the aforementioned Rhode Island Red which are long-lived reliable egg layers. But even among reds, laying hens from a production strain live shorter lives than their sisters from the heritage strain of the same breed. In general, the shortest-lived chickens are high-production hybrid egg layers, and the hens that lay the fewest eggs live the longest lives.When asking how long does a chicken live, there’s one last thing to cover: the lifespans of roosters. They tend to be shorter than those of hens, even from the same breed and living in the same conditions. This flies in the face of the lifespan of chicken average that we’ve laid out above. Roosters don’t live a long time, and hens tend to live longer.
How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
That brings us to the question of how many years a healthy hen will be laying eggs. Most hens start laying at around 18 months old, but they don’t generally continue into old age. Here again, there can be differences among breeds and drastic variations between individual chickens. And here again, the essential question is whether to prioritize high production or a longer laying period, as the two are usually mutually exclusive.The trouble is that backyard chicken owners often want something very different from their hens than industrial producers. Industrial producers want chickens who lay eggs as fast as possible in as short a period as they can manage. This means a lot of production birds, especially the modern hybrids, are laying eggs almost every day for 18 months or two years and then stop or reduce capacity dramatically. This is fine for an industrial set-up where the bird can simply be replaced once she stops laying eggs, but less than ideal for many backyard homesteaders who want a steady supply over several years.There are compromise choices, such as a production strain of a heritage breed. These birds still maintain frequent production, but they’ll last longer than the hybrids both as active egg layers and their overall life expectancy. Just the switch from an industrial hybrid to a heritage production strain will likely double the years of high-production egg laying to three or four years. Pure heritage breeds or infrequent layers will probably last the longest in terms of production at five to ten years.But raw numbers don’t tell the whole story. “Five years of production” doesn’t mean five years of laying the same number of eggs as she did when the hen was only two years old. As anyone with aches and pains can tell you, aging (even gracefully) means slowing down, and this also holds true for hens and their egg laying. Most hens lay the most eggs in their first year of production and begin to drop off after that. Their egg production will continue to gradually decline until they eventually stop laying eggs altogether.