How long chickens live can only be answered very vaguely. As with us humans, there are those who reach old age, but also those who die at a young age.
In hobby keeping, one can assume that the chickens live an average of 5-7 years. However, it is not uncommon to have specimens that reach an age of 10 years.
The life expectancy of the chicken depends on the chicken breed
If you keep different chicken breeds yourself, you will find that the life expectancy of the individual chicken breeds is sometimes very different.
In particular, very original chicken breeds, which were bred for vigorous growth and vitality, reach a higher age than breeds for which a high egg production was the breeding goal.
A high laying performance of the chickens saps the strength, which can be seen especially in laying hybrids. At the age of 2-3 years, the chickens become susceptible to diseases, get a very ruffled plumage, and often have to fight cancerous growths. It is not uncommon for laying hybrids to die at the age of 3-4 years.
Life expectancy for a rooster?
Amazingly, it can be observed that the roosters of almost all breeds of chickens reach a higher age than their female relatives.
This can be explained by the fact that the rooster is not strained by egg production. A possible reason for the higher attainable age can also be seen as the increased urge to move of most roosters. However, this is only a guess and has not yet been scientifically proven.
The life span of chickens in factory farming?
In commercial factory farming, the chickens usually don’t even live to be two years old. Here the laying performance of the laying hybrids is additionally increased by external factors.
The chickens are driven to peak performance through extended daytime phases with the help of artificial light, stalls that are air-conditioned to the ideal temperature, and high-performance feed.
The chicken thus becomes an egg producer and its entire life is only optimized to produce as many particularly large chicken eggs as possible.
The chickens will provide top performances that they are already exhausted after 12 – 14 months and the laying performance drops. Since the animals are then no longer profitable, they are killed and replaced with younger chickens.
As a chicken gets older, its behavior also changes.
These signs of old age in chickens are typical:
- The chicken becomes sluggish and is no longer as active.
- Laying performance drops and the eggs laid are now smaller than before.
- Especially during winter and late autumn, the hen no longer lays any eggs.
- The plumage of the chicken also shows the age of the chicken. It looks disheveled, not as full and shiny anymore.
- The crest and the wattles are no longer colored as intensely.
The old chickens become more susceptible to diseases. Especially low temperatures in winter put a lot of strain on the old animals, which often leads to them dying at this time of year.
However, in order to be able to offer the old animals a pleasant old age, you should ensure a healthy and varied diet. The chickens are very grateful for some grated carrots, some apple slices, and lettuce leaves. In addition, you can provide the animal with a vitamin supplement.
- Hobby chickens live to be 5-7 years old
- Reachable age depends on the chicken breed
- The rooster usually lives longer than the hens
- Breeds with high egg production do not get as old
- Layer hybrids usually only reach an age of 3-4 years
- In factory farming, chickens are killed when they are 12 to 14 months old