Lifespan of hens


In the Brooder
Nov 14, 2018
We are new to chicken keeping only having a small flock of hens as pets. They are hybrid hens that we got 3 years ago and this summer they seem to have suddenly become elderly. We had 6 hens that were laying 6 a day then went down to 3 then recently 1 a week. They also seemed to like to take more naps in the day time. We found 1 hen dead in the nest box one morning who had seemed fine the previous day then a month or two later our favourite hen suddenly started walking slowly and panting she died the next day. Is this typical of hybrid hens to go down hill fast? The 4 that are left seem in good health despite one having had a vent prolapse last year (having to shove a finger up a chickens bum is not something I ever thought I'd do) and one currently going through a drastic molt (she looks very naked). So really I'm wondering if this is normal for their life expectancy. Many thanks.


In the Brooder
Nov 14, 2018
Thankyou! We were wanting to add a couple into the flock in the spring I will look out for heritage breeds they seem hard to find where we live they mostly sell hybrids. We also keep a Cockerel that was given to us from a neighbour that seems to be getting increasingly grumpy towards our 4 hens, he still feeds and follows them around but has started to peck at them when they go to bed especially the one that's in a molt. Is this normal behaviour does he think there's something wrong with the molting chicken? There's a few times we have had to drive him out as he wouldn't let her come into the hen house at night. Many thanks.

Folly's place

10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
Some breeds do tend to live longer than others, but it's an individual issue too.
Very few breeders select for longevity, rather breeding one year old birds every year, because it's the most economical method.
Some of the game type birds, and some like Sumatras and Cubalayas, do live longer, but egg production won't be very good.
Pick breeds that look interesting to you, and try them out. you will find birds that 'everyone' recommends may not work for you, and others that seem less interesting, are wonderful. There are so many choices!!!
Pay attention to breeds that tend to do well in your climate too.
Henderson'e poultry chart is excellent, and 'feathersite', and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
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Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
It is very normal for birds to get elderly at 3+ years. And really, if they are gone in the morning, well they have had a good life and a quick end. Personally, I like a multi generational flock. So when I lose some, I add some.

I have an older rooster too, and he is getting grumpy. Course he is also molting, I have a young boy growing up in the flock now, and come the spring, I may cull the older boy. It is the circle of life, adding and subtracting.

My granddaughter and I feel a bit sad, but not devastated when we loose them. Nothing new chicks can't help with.

People often times do have much older chickens, but I have never had them live like that. I am not doubting them, but don't feel guilty if yours don't live that long, a lot of chickens don't.

Mrs K

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