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How Long Do Chickens Live?

How Long Do Chickens Live?
How Long Do Chickens Live? 1

Those that are starting out with chicks or pullets probably want to know how long does a chicken live and can expect to spend with their new flockmates.

Biologically speaking, most chickens can potentially live for 30 years. However, the odds of this happening are rare. In 2004, Matilda the chicken earned her spot in the Guinness World Records as the oldest living chicken at the ripe old age of 14, and passed away at 16. Matilda never laid an egg, and veterinarians believe this significantly contributed to her lifespan.

So what is the average? The average backyard chicken lives for 5-8 years, barring any predation or illness.

Layer vs Broiler Chickens

Layer hens decrease in egg production significantly after their 3rd year. As a result, commercially raised layers are usually butchered at 1-2 years old. Backyard birds are often butchered when they stop laying. Those that are kept as pets though thy do not lay often live to the 5-8 year mark.

Broiler chickens are fast growing birds raised specifically for meat production. They grow so fast and large that they will eventually be unable to walk! A common example of a broiler chicken is the Cornish breeds. These are usually butchered at 6-7 weeks of age.

Predators

Unfortunately, everything loves the taste of chicken. One of, if not the, most common problems with backyard chickens is the threat from predators which can end a birds life far too early.

Illness

Sometimes, birds get sick. Chickens are susceptible to various diseases contracted from feral birds and rodents. Although practicing strict biosecurity in important, it is impossible to protect birds from everything that can potentially make them ill.

Injury

You might have noticed that chickens aren’t the most graceful animals. Being the clumsy birds they are, and the nature of living outside, injuries happen. Sometimes those injuries are fatal. Along with illnesses, it is impossible to protect chickens from every possible injury they could possibly sustain. Nonetheless, it is good practice to keep coops, runs, and free range areas clean and in good repair.

Necropsy

The very sad truth is eventually you’ll probably lose a bird. It happens, no matter how much you loved and protected them. If your birds passing seems suspicious, I HIGHLY recommend a necropsy. If said bird dies from an illness, you may be able to treat before losing any more.

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References:

http://www.hsi.org/assets/pdfs/about_chickens.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilda_(chicken)

FAQ

How long do chickens live as pets?

The average backyard chicken lives for 5-8 years, barring any predation or illness.

What is the natural lifespan of a chicken?

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.

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.

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