If you have your own chicken flock, or maybe you’re just starting to raise baby chicks, you may start asking yourself “how long do chickens live?” Afterall, you will want to be prepared for how long you will have your chickens, right?
When we started thinking about getting chickens, one of the first questions that we asked was that of “how long do chickens live”. We wanted to know how long we might have our first chickens as well as how often we may need to replenish our layer flock.
So, how long do chickens live?
First, let’s just talk the simple, easy answer. In general, it is accepted that the life cycle of a chicken is an average of 8 year.
So, that’s all right – 8 years is the answer to the question how long do chickens live.
Not, so fast.
Other factors to consider when thinking about the question – how long do chickens live.
First, although the life cycle of a chicken may average 8 years – that is just how long can that chicken live in general. Most chickens these days, especially ones in backyard flocks probably live much shorter lives.
Well, predators are a really big issue for chickens. I can’t tell you how many times we get messages from people who have purchased silkies or pullets asking if we have more available because something got their birds.
So, predator issues can most certainly bring the average down when answering how long do chickens live.
Another factor in how long the life cycle of a chicken will be is their care. There are a lot of people jumping into backyard chickens. Which is great – they can experience fresh eggs (which are SO good), as well as have some adorable pets.
However, most backyard flock enthusiasts aren’t going to run their chickens to the vet (like they might their dog) if they get sick. And the fact is, chickens can be fragile at time. Baby chicks need certain care. Adult chickens can get all sorts of things like Marek’s or respiratory diseases – sometimes simply from wild birds flying through.
That’s not to say that raising chickens is SUPER hard, it really isn’t that bad 😉 However, when issues do arise, the likelihood that chickens are getting top notch medical care is just not realistic.
So, clearly, health and medical care will play a large role in the answer to the question how long do chickens live.
Does Breed Type Affect the Answer to the Question How long do Chickens Live?
Yes! Chicken breed definitely can play a large role in how long a chicken will live.
For example, just out of purpose, most meat breeds are not going to live very long. Not only are they butchered young, but most are bred to grow big, fast. This fast growth often times can cause significant health issues if they are alive much after butchering age.
Also, there are production breeds, like sex link and leghorns. These breeds, sort of like meat breeds, are bred to have large eggs and to produce like gangbusters quickly. This means they start laying early and lay super often (5 – 7 times a week usually).
This constant egg laying can ultimately take a toll on their overall health and potentially cause health issues. Which can cause them to have a shorter life span.
So, again, how long do chickens live?
As you can see, the answer to how long chickens live really can vary. Of course, we can answer that question by looking at the average life cycle of a chicken.
That answer, as we have reviewed, is about 8 years.
However, that answer is not really the end all, be all as there are a lot of other factors that will be at play. Particularly, breed, medical care, health and potential predators.
In our flock, we do have a few girls who have reached the 6 year age range now and still seem to be clucking along just fine 🙂 However, unfortunately, it is more common to loose some chickens earlier in life due to predators and other issues.
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