"senior citizen" chickens


In the Brooder
10 Years
Oct 28, 2009
I'm just wondering how old a hen can truly be expected to live with good care. My two remaining ladies are 5 years old. "Oprah" is starting to lose weight and getting bony though still active. (She lays horrible thin shelled eggs that are totally useless). This is what happened to my other chickens a few weeks before they decided it was time to go. They were also 4-5 yrs old. On the other hand, "Ruby" is so fat she can barely waddle around the yard. My chickens are dusted, wormed, eat well and free range under supervision every day. Wish I could do something to let my chickens reach ripe old age of 10-15 as I have read - I'm thinking people are exaggerating (?) about these elderly chickens. I've had chickens for a long time and never had one live past 5.
Chickens are a lot like people.. sometimes you do everything right and they still don't live to be a ripe old age. It has a lot to do with genetics - sometimes birds, like people, just have good genes and live long lives. I think that "production" chickens tend to have more problems (internal laying, etc) that take them out sooner.. of course, there are exceptions! And, of course, things like disease, weather, predators and pests also play a role.

Five years is a good age for a chicken - I've seen lots of chickens not live more than a couple. I don't think people are providing false information about having 10 year old chickens.. but to live that long is rare - like living to be a 100+ for people - it happens but it's not the norm.
We have a small group of chickens in one pen that range in age from five to eight years old. The oldest hens are a Turken, a Buff Orpington, and bantam Cochins. They all still lay eggs occasionally, although Buffy's are very thin-shelled, so sometimes they get broken in the nesting box...but I give her a lot of credit for trying. Sometimes Buffy gets knocked over and she can't get up on her own, so we do keep an eye on her, but the rest are still very spry. We love our senior chickens very much, but I can't say we've raised them any differently than other chickens we've had that weren't so hardy (Sebrights, Silkies).
Ohh.....It will be sad to see ours go. First year with Chickens and we never knew how FUN they would be, but at least I know what to look for now, hopefully we can go past 5!
I had a chicken that was seven when she passed. "Attila the Hen" She was a barred rock and as sweet as she could be! Good luck with your chickies!
My grandma had a chicken that had no toes due to frostbite. Gram was not the most caring poultrykeeper but she never axed a hen just for being old and a bad layer. "Stumpy"(as she was known) died in her sleep at the ripe old age of 13. I've got a 7-year old hen who still lays 1 - 2 eggs / week (although I have noticed a drop in shell quality), and I will cry like a baby when she dies.
I have another hen (named "Freeloader") who hasn't laid anything in at least a year, and she's as hardy as when I got her at 1 & 1/2. And then again, I've had growing cockerels who appear healthy as can be, until they just drop dead one morning (fall-off-the-perch-syndrome). I think the 10 - 15 years is like how people can live to be 100 - if they don't get cancer, heart disease, in an accident, have hidden genetic defects, etc. I hope you get several more years out of your gals.

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