How to Handle the Aging Process of Chickens

By Mountain Peeps · Aug 4, 2015 · Updated Aug 4, 2015 · ·
  1. Mountain Peeps
    How to Handle the Aging Process of Chickens

    Like any living creature, chickens grow old. They start out as tiny embryos inside an egg and end up as large, clucking birds full of life. Chickens have a life expectancy with 5-8 years being the average. However, some chickens have been known to live past 10 or even 15 years! Throughout these years, chickens will begin to slow down. In this article, you will learn about the natural declining process of a chicken’s life.
    Deciding what to do With Hens that Quit Laying
    Hens begin laying eggs when they are anywhere from 18-30 weeks. Depending on the breed, their egg laying will start declining around 2-4 years. Sometimes hens eventually stop laying completely while others lay occasionally throughout their entire lives. Some chicken owners like to retire their old hens and start over with new chickens every 2 years or so. Other people keep them until the hens grow old and pass. Hens are wonderful to raise since they lay eggs and then once they quit, they can be put in the stew pot for dinner. But, if you’re anything like me, your hens are pets and the last thing you want to do is cook them for supper! If this is your case and you still want some fresh eggs, you’ll need to add to your flock. So, make sure you build your coop and run big enough to contain more chickens in your future. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until your current hens live out their lives in order to get new birds.

    My family is always telling me that we should eat our flock and buy new ones who will lay. But, I love my hens too much to kill them and I will keep them until their time is up. Three of them are 4 years old now and lay only on occasion. I don’t have as many eggs to sell or eat as I used to, but I would much rather have their personalities than their eggs!

    Enjoying Your Flock in Their Old Age
    While there are many disadvantages to an aging group of chickens, there are also some wonderful advantages. They won’t be as lively which means they might enjoy simply resting on your lap for longer periods of time than they used to. Older hens have been known to “teach” young pullets the ropes of laying. My grandma once had an old hen that literally showed the pullets how to arrange the nest bedding and get comfortable inside. Then once the pullets started laying, she would sometimes stand outside the nest, talking to them while they laid!

    And of course older chickens will still enjoy ranging in the yard, eating treats and spending time with you as well as each other. Make sure to watch their health as they continue to age.
    Why Old Chickens Generally Die
    Predators are the biggest cause of chicken deaths, no matter what their age. Sickness and diseases are other big problems that will often take a chicken’s life. Marek’s is a very common disease that many chickens can get, especially those who are old and have weaker immune systems. Chickens can also die from accidents such as falling off something, getting stuck or caught in something or from problems like frostbite or heat stroke. Although it’s impossible to prevent ALL issues that chickens can have, try your best to keep their immune systems strong. Make sure your coop is sturdy and built to keep out your area’s predators and weather extremes. It might be a good idea to vaccinate your chicks when they are young to help prevent diseases such as Marek’s. Chickens also can die simply from old age. Their bodies eventually shut down no matter how safe and healthy they are.

    Losing a Special Chicken
    The loss of a chicken is just as hard as the loss of any other beloved pet. We grieve for them and never forget them. Chickens can become part of the family and when they pass, everyone will miss them. The best thing you can do for yourself during this time, is bury the body in a special place outside. Also, flood yourself with the happy memories you had with them. Nothing lasts forever and we should cherish the time we have with our animals, just as we should with one another.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. spiritpots
    "Wonderful article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 21, 2019
    Such an informative and warm-hearted article showing how our flocks can become a dear part of our lives for many years. Thank you for sharing!
  2. Yuki
    "I was there when oneof my older hens passed"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 21, 2019
    So true I lost one of my babies last summer I still cry myself to sleep every night because she passed the wynite in back is metor she is the one who p passed I tried force feeding and vitamins along with iv fluid into under her skin
  3. eyo schicky
    "Great! Thanks :)"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 19, 2019
    I have a 6 & 8 year old left in my tiny flock and deciding if I should add a couple of young ones or just let the old girls enjoy their twilight years without youngsters hassling them
    Mrs HenCluck likes this.


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  1. achiekitty
    Thank you. We’re relatively new to chicken keeping. Two of our girls, Brownie and Grey are almost 3 years old and we’ve had them since they were a month old. Then a year later, we got Blondie/Goldie and she was already 4. She’s now going on 6 and seems to be slowing down. She sits a lot. Yesterday, she just sat contentedly right outside the steps to our bedroom. She also hasn’t laid her green eggs since she started molting last fall.

    And we don’t care if she never lays again. Anyway, she’s still a contributing member of the flock with her scratching, bug-eating and pooping free fertilizer.
    She’s still entertaining and provides extra drama to our little flock of three.
      Eggscaping likes this.
  2. Rajandura
    Thank you for sharing, im glad to see im not crazy for thinking of my hens as pets and keeping them around just for personality as they age. I get why the commercial folks do what they do... and id like to think that i can get a batch of broilers one day to raise just for meat birds without becoming attached to any of them, but... maybe ill just keep getting layers and build some retirement coops... :)
      Eggscaping likes this.
  3. sunflour
    Well done, enjoyed reading your article.
  4. chick-adee
  5. Yorkshire Coop
    Lovely article Sarah, well done!!
  6. N F C
    Wonderful article Sarah, I have to agree with of your best yet!
  7. TwoCrows
    Very nice article Sarah...Very well done. One of your best yet!! :)
  8. Americano Blue
    Nice job Sarah! It's sad that chickens have such a short life span... :(
  9. dan26552
    Very good, I like it

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