Chicken Lifespan: How Long Do Chickens Live?

Written by August Croft
Published: January 2, 2022
© Majna/Shutterstock.com
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If you have decided to keep chickens in your backyard coop, it is important to know how long chickens live for. Whether you want a unique pet or are interested in fresh eggs from your coop, chickens can be an awesome addition to any farm or backyard.

In this article, we will discuss how long do chickens live for, their average life cycle, and how you can take care of your flock in order to maximize their life. Let’s get started now!

How long do chickens live?
Whether you want a unique pet or are interested in fresh eggs from your coop, chickens can be an awesome addition to any farm or backyard.

©iStock.com/fotoshoota

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How Long Do Chickens Live?

Chickens live an average of 4-10 years. While this depends on their breed, location, and the amount of care that they are receiving, a chicken can be a wonderful addition to your family for years to come.

Wild chickens live an average of 2-5 years depending on environmental and predatory threats, while domesticated or pet chickens can live beyond the ten year mark if properly cared for. However, there is a certain type of chicken that we should discuss here: hybrid chickens.

Hybrid chickens are cross-bred chickens, usually altered by humankind to suit their needs. These chickens are bred for meat, egg production, and more, and their genes are forever changed because of this. Hybrid chickens live an average of 2-4 years, should they make it that long.

This is why it is important to purchase heritage chickens if you are planning on bringing chickens into your home coop. These chickens aren’t altered or bred for meat- they are “purebred” chickens, for lack of a better word.

Heritage chickens live an average of 5-10 years, and can lay eggs for roughly a quarter of that time. This makes these chickens ideal for backyard coops and family pets.

The World’s Oldest Chicken

The world’s oldest chicken was named Muffy and lived to the age of 22. The secret to Muffy’s long life? For one, she lived a life of comfort that didn’t include laying eggs and other strenuous activities.

While genetics are the biggest determinant for truly extreme lifespans, its not uncommon for many pets to live far beyond their average lifespan. While most dogs like 10 to 12 years, the oldest dog on record was named Bluey and lived to 29 years of age. Likewise, the oldest cat ever lived to an incredible 38 years of age!

How long do chickens live?
Chickens live an average of 4-10 years.

©Aksenova Natalya/Shutterstock.com

The Average Chicken Life Cycle

If you are planning on caring for a backyard coop full of chickens, it is important to learn about their life cycle. Let’s dive in now.

Newly Hatched

A baby chick hatches after 21 days in the egg. They emerge fully formed with feathers and only need a bit of time to get fluffed up before you can move them. It is important that a baby chick stays warm for at least three days after it hatches. 

Newly hatched chickens should be given food and water immediately, and this should be changed out for freshness daily. It is important to feed your newborn chicken a comprehensive diet, full of protein and vitamins. 

Baby Chicks

How long do chickens live?
A baby chick hatches after 21 days in the egg.

©Majna/Shutterstock.com

Baby chicks complete their first molting by the time they are 4-5 weeks old. They will molt once more around 7 weeks of age. This molting is important because it will give chickens of different genders their own unique coloring and patterns. 

Chickens grow quickly, and love to have adventures outdoors when they are between 8 to 10 weeks old. They will soon be incorporated into their chicken family by using a pecking order, or type of bird hierarchy. 

Adulthood

Adult chickens are considered adults usually after they have laid their first egg. This can happen anywhere from 20 weeks old to even a full year old. By this point, your hens should be producing eggs and they should also be aware of how nest boxes work.

Adult chickens usually lay eggs until they are around three years old, but some pet chickens have been known to lay eggs well into their adult years. With proper feed and care, your chickens may produce eggs much longer than expected. Some of the largest breeds of chickens can weigh up to 13 pounds when fully grown.

Seniors

While your chicken probably won’t live to break records (once again, the oldest known chicken lived to over 20 years old!), you can expect your pet chicken to live at least five years. Your senior aged chicken will not need very much more care than your adult chickens.

However, you should make sure your senior chicken is loved and looked after, especially as it ages. Inspect your chicken regularly for injuries or harm, and be sure to clean your chicken coop regularly to avoid infections and bacteria.

Even if your chicken no longer lays eggs for you, having a senior chicken is still a wonderful pet to have! Let them free range in your backyard, as they will eat up many common insect pests. So long as they are warm and happy, your elderly chickens should live a long life!

How long do chickens live?
Adult chickens usually lay eggs until they are around three years old, but some pet chickens have been known to lay eggs well into their adult years.

Tips for Giving Your Chicken a Long Life

Speaking of long lives, your chicken can benefit from the following things in its life to improve its overall health:

  • Improve your chicken coop. Having a large and clean chicken coop is one of the easiest ways to improve the life of your chicken. While nesting boxes are important, your chickens should be given ample room to run around as well. Having a coop that is secure from predators is also important.
  • Keep your chickens warm. It isn’t realistic to bring your entire coop of chickens inside for the winter, but chickens can’t survive the cold. You should consider supplying your chickens with heaters, both in their coop and in their enclosed running area. 
  • Feed your chickens a balanced diet. Chickens can be given feed and treats, and your senior chickens can even be given supplements. You may consider letting your chickens free graze on food that is high in calcium as well, as each individual chicken will have different health needs.
  • Chat with your chickens. Talking with your chickens is a great way for them to adapt to living alongside people. It can also improve their happiness alongside yours. Chickens are talkative creatures, so it is only natural that we talk back!


The Featured Image

Fear of Animals: Alektorophobia
A mother hen with chickens in a rural yard. Chickens have great memories & can recognize over 100 faces.
© Majna/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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