If you are asking yourself what the typical and average chicken lifespan is, then you have come to the right place. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about a chicken’s lifespan. Keep reading to learn more.
Chickens are intelligent and gentle creatures. They like to spend their days foraging in the grass for seeds and insects, taking dust baths to stay clean, and protecting and creating nests once they become doting parents.
However, most backyard chickens do not get to live this happy and natural life. Their natural lifespans can be cut short by various things, including diseases, slaughter, and injuries.
How Long Do Chickens Live?
A backyard chicken will live somewhere between five to ten years on average. However, several factors will impact how long a chicken lives.
One of the main factors that impact the lifespan of chickens is their specific breed. Some chicken breeds tend to live longer than others. The category of the chicken matters a lot. There are three main categories that chicken breeds fall into. They include heritage, dual-purpose, and production breeds.
Production chickens are raised for either meat or egg production. They are fast-growing and quick to mature. Egg-laying hens tend to have a shorter lifespan because of the amount of strain egg production has on their small bodies. An average production chicken will live for 3 to 5 years.
Dual-purpose chickens are raised for both eggs and meat. Since they are not specialized like production chickens, they mature slowly. They tend to live longer than the production chickens. They can live for 6 to 8 years.
Heritage chickens are usually slow growers and tend to have a long life. Most of them will reach eight years, and some even live up to ten years.
Average Lifespan Of Chickens By Breed
Here is the average lifespan of some of the popular chicken breeds.
Rhode Island Reds
The Rhode Island Reds are known for their egg-laying. Under good care, they can lay 5 to 6 eggs in a week. The breed is a good forager and will love spending time outside. Since they are a self-sufficient heritage chicken breed, they tend to have a long lifespan. On average, they will live for 6 to 8 years. However, they can outlive this with proper care.
Silkies are typically hardy chicken breeds. On average, they can live for seven to ten years. Their long lifespan is because of their low egg production capabilities. They experience less strain on their body because they lay eggs less often.
Orpingtons are a popular chicken breed among many backyard chicken keepers. They are a heritage chicken breed and tend to have longer lifespans than the average chicken. The breed is generally docile and tolerates hot and cold weather well. With good care, the breed can live around ten years.
Plymouth Rocks can live for around eight to ten years. The longer lifespan is mostly because of their good and varied genetics. These chickens are naturally hardy birds that will endure a variety of temperatures and will rarely develop many illnesses.
Wyandottes are excellent birds with a calm and enduring temperament. They will be seemingly unbothered by the common chicken stressors, such as confinement and constant handling. They are not excellent egg layers and will produce around 200 eggs in a year. These factors contribute to their longer lifespan of 8 to 12 years.
Jersey Giant Chickens
The life expectancy of Jersey Giants is shorter than other popular chicken breeds because of their larger body sizes. It is a hybrid breed with a lifespan of around six years.
The breed is docile and calm and was developed as a dual-purpose bird in New Jersey. They weigh up to 20 pounds and can grow up to 2 feet tall.
ISA Browns are known for being prolific egg layers. They are mostly used as commercial egg layers. Because of the number of eggs they produce, they have a relatively short lifespan. They will live for two to three years.
Leghorn chickens are prolific egg layers that can produce up to 280 eggs in a year. Because of this, they have a short lifespan, between 3 and 6 years. The Leghorn is a heritage chicken breed raised for both meat and eggs.
They are popular in the United States of America and come in a variety of colors, including light brown, white, silver, red, golden, black, and buff.
Cochins are known for their full appearance and are usually prone to several health issues, such as parasites and obesity. Outside these issues, they are healthy birds and have a lifespan of about seven to ten years.
Easter Egger chickens are technically not an official chicken breed. The name is given to hybrid chickens that lay eggs in a variety of colors, such as pink, green, and blue.
Since they are hybrid chickens, they are genetically robust and more diverse than the average chicken breed. Therefore, they have a longer lifespan of eight to ten years.
Factors Affecting The Lifespan Of Chickens
Several factors will affect the lifespan of your backyard chicken. Here are some of them.
The breed of a chicken will play a significant role in shortening their lifespans on both meat and egg factory farms.
Some chicken breeds are usually attentive to their surroundings, especially when free-ranging. Other breeds will wander blindly into danger.
Most of the characteristics are passed through a chicken breed and can help increase the breed’s overall lifespan.
Intelligent or smart birds are less likely to be victims of predator attacks. Therefore, it is a highly desirable trait when it comes to evolution.
Broiler birds are selectively bred to grow faster than they ordinarily would. They are forced to grow more muscles than nature intended to produce more meat.
These birds are prone to skeletal and other health issues that make them have a shorter lifespan.
On the other hand, layer hens are bred to produce extremely high volumes of eggs. This demand on their bodies can cause painful conditions like drooping organs known as prolapse. This can lead to calcium depletion, which can cause ovarian cancer and broken bones.
Although most poultry diseases are not deadly, some can be more dangerous or fatal. For instance, minor issues like lice and other parasites can slowly drain away from the energy reserves of a bird and shorten its overall lifespan.
Parasites such as worms, mites, and lice can cause discomfort, anemia, feather damage, and skin irritation.
To reduce these problems and enable your birds to live longer, you should dust your coop frequently and feed your flock a healthy and nutritious diet.
Chickens that live in a crowded coop are also likely to suffer from infectious diseases. Therefore, you will also need to ensure that your coop is spacious enough and not crowded.
Diet And Nutrition
Diet and nutrition have an impact on the lifespan of birds. Years ago, chicken keepers fed their birds on leftover human food and anything else they decided to toss on the ground for their backyard chickens.
This feeding manner often resulted in chickens becoming ill and weak due to not eating a proper diet. Today, backyard flocks are treated much better and offered proper feed to meet their dietary requirements.
In ancient times, birds were occasionally raised for eggs and meat. Many chicken keepers did not pay attention to a chicken’s health, genetic traits, and life expectancy. Chickens were just meant to produce eggs and sometimes meat for human consumption.
In the 1800s, breeders and chicken keepers started experimenting with the genetics of birds in order to suppress their wild behaviors.
The genetic experimentation resulted in several chicken breeds being developed. Some of the new breeds enjoyed longer lifespans than others.
Generally, male chickens are rarely afraid to charge toward predators or other threats. On the other hand, their female counterparts are less aggressive and will run away from any threat.
Because of this, male birds tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to their female counterparts.
However, when hens and roosters are raised in the same conditions, without outside threats, the roosters will enjoy the same lifespan as their female counterparts.
Therefore, you will need to ensure that your backyard flock is safe from predators and other threats.
Housing And Care
The housing of your backyard flock will also impact their lifespan. Today, backyard flocks have specially built coop spaces that are designed to protect them in the winter and summer months.
Not only will they be protected from extreme conditions, but they will also be safe from predators.
In addition, proper veterinary care can also make the difference between a bird that lives for two years and one that lives for eight years. Chickens that are well-cared for will likely live longer.
An average backyard chicken can live anywhere between five to years. However, the lifespan will depend on several factors such as breed, housing and care, diet and nutrition, gender, and genetics.