Healthiest Chicken Breeds?


Bantam Queen
7 Years
Apr 28, 2016
New York
When I first started out with chickens four years ago, I thought that you could just go to the feed store, pick out any breed you wanted, and you would have those chickens for ten years. Now, four years later, I have lost three of my original six chickens because of health issues due to overbreeding.
I know realize that most chickens are bred to lay as many eggs as possible in the first two years of their lives, and then be killed. Or, in the case of meat birds, they are bred to get as fat as possible in a short amount of time, and then get slaughtered.
But, I'm not going to cull my birds just because they are old, or don't lay many eggs. My chickens are my pets, so I want them to live as long as possible.
I want to add two or three more chickens to my flock, but this time I want chickens that are going to live a long time and have very few health issues. I don't need chickens that are going to lay tons of eggs, and I definitely don't want meat birds or dual purpose breeds.
I read that Easter Eggers are tend to be very healthy and usually live 8+ years. Is that right? Are there any other breeds like this?
This thread is kind of geared towards people who have had a lot of experience keeping and raising chickens. If you can help me, I would be very grateful.
Thank you!
Well..... yes and no.... I've never really heard of a bird living for 10 years. Our oldest were 8 and 9. The 9 year old was failing rapidly her last year though to the point where she fell over easily and couldn't right herself up. She ended up getting stepped on by a steer. Our 8 year old was a rooster who we think had a heart attack. These shocked everyone who knew about it because chickens usually are old by like 4 or 5.

Granted the rooster was an Araucona (orneaster dagger if you want to argue that a hatchet doesn't do purebred any more of them)
Those bred for short but high production are hybrids (not pure breeds), they do unfortunately have short life spans due to being prone to health issues, but are very popular.

Most pure breeds have a good chance of living 8+ years old. Pure breeds aren’t necessarily bred for high production but some have been bred selectively to get a better egg yield. Some pure breeds bred for a good amount of eggs are Leghorns, RIRs, Rocks, Sussex. Easter eggers are mixed breed, I’ve never heard anything bad about them. Given what you want from your chickens, I think your best looking at bantams. Some bantams are true to type, whereas others are smaller versions of large fowl breeds. Cochin bantams always seem to have long life spans, they’re small and friendly too.

But there isn’t a particular pure or mixed breed that is healthier than the other, sure both are healthier than hybrids and some breeds are just easier to keep than others, but it just comes down to nature. You can’t help a chicken having a heart attack at 5 years old or cancer at 9 years old. There’s no guarantee any chicken will live a long life.
Thank you for your replies. Yes, I know there is no guarantee as to how long each chicken will live. I just want a breed that is going to have less health issues over the course of its life, and maybe it will live to be older than a hybrid breed.
I will look into bantams. Right now I'm thinking maybe two Easter Eggers and one bantam, if they work for my flock. The leader of my flock is a black australorp, and she is huge. Would she pick on a bantam? Also, will bantams be able to handle the cold? Winters can get pretty cold where I live.
That's good to know. I also just heard about the Old English Game Bantam. Do you have any experience with these? I have heard mixed feelings, some people say they are aggressive, others say they are not. Some say can't tolerate cold, others say they do. Any thoughts?
Also, my coop is built for six chickens. I can't free range my chickens as there are too many predators, bu I do let them out into a netted area as often as I can. I have three chickens now. If I add two easter eggers and two bantams, would that be too crowded?
I had the same concerns after my production hybrids just sort of faded out after a few years, (as they were bred to do)
I then tried some good 'heritage breeds' hoping for better health. They were definitely longer lived (6-9 years average I'd say) then the production birds but each particular breed had their own little recurring health issues. I got tired of constantly treating bumble this or sour that.
I did notice the heritage breeds I got from smaller, specialized breeders were clearly better quality than the feed store ones of the same breed. Also, never trust feed store labels.
Currently, I'm trying older, historic breeds that are as 'unfooled with' as possible, especially ones that haven't had the spirit bred out of them. In my opinion health and spirit seem genetically linked.
Old Gamefowl breeds like American or Old English Game (also comes in a cute bantam variety), and Landraces like Icelandic are my favorites so far for no maintenance health. Literally, no maintenance.
Have not had them long enough to comment on length of life, but have heard 15 is possible for some. Cons to these breeds might be that most are not very petlike, not cuddly or docile. But they do have a lot of personality and provide hours of chicken TV!
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Okay, Old English Game are definitely something I would be interested in. Cochin bantams seem good to. I was looking into bantam breeds, and though I can't find much on health and life expectancy, I saw a few that I thought looked really cute: brahma bantam, mille fleur d'uccle, sebright bantam, dutch bantam, and the belgium bantam. Does anyone know anything about these breeds?

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