Chicken life span


9 Years
Sep 18, 2010
I don't have chickens yet, but I am thinking about it seriously. We are thinking about starting with layers. I understand that they lay for a couple of years, and then stop. I am thinking about getting additional birds as meaties, but I also don't want an ever-increasing flock of layers that become pets. I have two dogs already
I don't know if I'll want to eat them if they have been around for two years. I know I'll have to get more when the original ones stop laying. How long do they live?
They can live up to 20 years, but that's rather rare.
Hens don't stop laying after 2 years. They start slowing down about 2 1/2 to 3 years, but will continue to lay for the rest of their lives.

I would really encourage you to read a bit more on this site and have a plan in place for what to do with them. They taste best well before they finish laying, even before they start, and then there is the problem of roos, which you can't keep many of unless you're going tr have a bachelor pad of mostly freeloaders.

Chickens are great -- but every day I read questions from people who did not think it through first, and find themselves with a tough old 4 or 5 year old hen who lays maybe once a week, or too many roos who they don't want to butcher or have someone else butcher, and can't find a home for. I'm not recommending any particular plan, that's up to you, just HAVE one!

Your hens may lay well enough for several years that you don't mind keeping them. If you are particularly fond of one or two, you also might not mind letting them retire. Free ranging can be a partial solution as well. Many sell their unwanted chickens, knowing they lived well and will probably be eaten. (You can certainly eat an old chicken, you just have to know how to cook it.)

Just trying to give you some food for thought.
I definitely want to have a plan, and I am open to suggestions
I am not sure that we want roosters at all--we could, but I don't know if I want them or not. So they would have to be killed. I guess the bottom line with it is that people who have chickens end up having to kill some eventually? Provided you aren't buying some mature hens or something. I want to know what I am getting into.
If nothing else, the need to cull an injured or sick bird does arise from time to time. And there really isn't much else to do with excess roos -- unless you only happen to have one or two, and someone wants to put their mean one in the stew pot and take your nice one.

Sexing of chicks is generally only 90% accurate, so if you order 50 female chicks, you will likely get 5 or 6 roos or so, plus perhaps one or two for "extras" or as your "free rare breed" chick. Of course, if you hatch....
my chickens are my pets with a bonus. They give me eggs for loving and taking care of them. They will live with me til its their time to leave be it old age or sickness. My roos i kept 2 and give the rest away. I know some will probably be eaten but I cant help that, I just tell them dont tell me. I just hatched 21 out of 23 eggs 2 still cooking. I know I will have roos and I have a lady that will take them. She raises them for meat. But I know they will have a good life til its time for their purpose. I agree with everyone here dont go into this lightly. Learn all you can first then make an educated decision.
I bought laying hens which are a little more expensive 5 dollars a piece here but I did'nt have to go through the raising chicks thing ( also no Roos to worry about)and I started getting eggs right away.( the hens were 5 mos old) I got 8 hens there is only 2 of us so I barter the extra eggs, I realize that they will stop producing everyday when they get older which is fine less eggs to deal with but enough for my needs then as nature takes its course will replace with younger hens as needed.
I started with 5 day-old layer chicks that I bought at the feed store. We decided to name, and not eat, our first group of chickens, but 2 of the 5 turned out to be cockerels. So, at week 10 or so, I bought 3 more pullets so I could keep both cockerels engaged.

The original birds are very friendly with me - except sometimes the dominant male, who has started challenging me (by the way, his name is Lady, because we thought he was just a big girl!). However, the new birds keep their distance. They will be easier to eat .. except for that aggressive "Lady", whose name is quickly becoming "Chicken Dinner".

There is a farm nearby that sells free-range chickens. They allow neighbors and customers to come to the farm to participate in harvesting the birds. I've been one time, and learned how to clean them after they've been killed. I'm going back in 2 weeks to learn to actually do the kill (slit their throats when they are in a kill cone).

Handling all those dead chickens steeled up my nerves up a bit. When our dog killed one of our pullets, I was able to handle it better. I think mastering the kill will help with the inevitable day that I need to euthanize a bird, or decide to harvest one to eat. One of my first chicken experiences was during a tour of the farm where I was volunteering. The farmer accidentally stepped on a little chick and her guts smushed out her vent, hanging out there, it was gross. The farmer quickly suffocated the little chick to put her out of her misery.

Tending animals can provide opportunities to grow, and master things you didn't know you could - if you're up for that kind of challenge.
I got my birds to control insects and for entertainment (they are doing great at both.) Eggs are a bonus (Too many right now, have to give lots away.) When they get older they will still eat bugs and still make me laugh.

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