Topic/Question of the week - How long do chickens live?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sumi, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Many of us have or had the odd chicken that seem to have been around forever, year after year, laying the odd egg still, if a hen, slowly fading as time goes by… If not killed by predators, disease, mishaps, culling, or processed for the table, chickens can live a fairly long life. I'm curious to hear what age your oldest flock members reached and...

    - What is the average lifespan of a chicken?
    - When is a bird too old to live a quality life?
    - What can you do to make sure your oldest flock members are happy and comfortable?



    For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  2. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Too Many Chickens Premium Member

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    The oldest member of my flock is eight years old and still kickin'.

    Average lifespan, if given good care and protection, is about 7-9.... It depends on environment and breeding. Sex links, for example, often die young.

    A bird is too old to to live a good live when they can no longer do normal activities, such as roosting, walking, and eating.
    For instance, Emma (my 8yr old hen) has a limp when she runs, but still roosts way up with the younguns, is the boss of the flock, and eats very well. Yes, she is slowing down, but she still has that spark in her eye that tells me she isn't quite ready to go.

    I do little things that make it easier on her, like putting lower areas to roost up, bringing her in when it gets really cold outside, and providing her with soft places to walk. (Thick bedding & grass)
    I do not, however, give her extra food, due to her previous owner letting her get overweight, but skinny seniors might appreciate a little more.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  3. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    Subscribing to learn from y'alls experience.

    7-9 years longevity would make my hens now just middle aged :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    The oldest hen I had came to us when she was young, but already laying, so I was never sure of her exact age. She was a cross-bred hen of uncertain parentage and she laid very well, after 7 years with us, still producing 3-4 big white eggs weekly. She waited until she was with us about 6 years before going broody and happily hatching and raising a clutch of chicks.

    [​IMG]

    We had to rehome her when we emigrated, but I found her a good home where she could live out her days. I often wish I knew how long she stayed with her new family, who I knew would let her live out her days, until she dies naturally. She was starting to show her age a little by the time she left us, but she was still going strong and still laying.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  5. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    Pretty gal, great photo - what breed is/was she?
     
  6. ocap

    ocap Overrun With Chickens

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    my oldest is three
     
  7. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    @sunflour she was a cross-breed. Much of the chickens outside commercial farms and the handful of breeders in a S.A. are a bit of this and a bit of that crossed with something else and here you go. We made up our own chickens down there lol
     
  8. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is Mairah, a clean faced Easter Egger and my eldest and top hen. She's 7 years old and the sole survivor from my original flock. I free range so she gets plenty of exercise and foraged goodies. She also gets fermented feed, loves to be held and still gives me 3-4 eggs each week. I do not provide artificial heat or light during the winter months to give my girls a break from laying. She does not show her age, keeps up with the flock and is the first one each night up on the top roost.

    [​IMG]

    I did lose a hen this past spring to stray dogs who got into my coop. She was 6 years old and was also still laying 4-5 eggs each week.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Very much breed dependent and a function of nutrition as well as disease experience. High performance production birds do not live as long, especially meat birds like Cornish X. Birds with genetic based infirmities do not last as long. Birds that suffered a serious infection like Mareks or high worm burden do not live as long. With my games, hens kept in a hen house and fed to perform as layers have a hard time living to five years of age. Hens given a higher quality yet more restricted ration can live to 10 years producing chicks each year with relative ease. Exceptional hens can be to be close to 15 although production of eggs is extremely low even when kept just for brooding their own eggs. A decline in physical performance can be noted even for best birds once they about 3 years or so.
     
    3 people like this.
  10. hje007

    hje007 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens are only 18 months old so I can't speak to longevity on mine yet. However growing up my mom had a small flock and her last hen died at around 12 years old. She was a lone chicken for at least 5 years and lived with our dog, sleeping in the doghouse with her every night. I believe she was a red sex link.
     
    1 person likes this.

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