Before you bring home chickens, you may be wondering how long do chickens live? Knowing your chicken’s life expectancy is part of being a responsible homesteader. You’ll want to make sure you have a plan for your chicken’s lifespan.
Do Chickens Live A Long Time?
You may be wondering if chickens live a long time, and if so, how long will they be laying eggs. Well the answer is, it depends. Some chicken breeds have a longer lifespan than others, and some lay more years of their lifespan. Generally chickens live for 5 to 10 years, but usually more like 8 years.
Some chickens will live drastically shorter than that, especially if you are raising them for meat. Cornish cross chickens are only bred to live for a few months at the most. Egg production breeds that are bred for maximum egg laying will also have shorter lifespans than other chickens. They’re more likely to live three to five years. They will probably lay abundantly during the first two years and then dramatically slow down as they age.
Many chicken keepers and production farms choose to cull non-laying hens after the first couple years of their lives. Other chicken keepers, especially those of us with smaller flocks who tend to become attached tend to keep our birds around as pets and pest control during their “retirement” years.
Heritage breeds are more likely to live longer, some even up to ten years. However, they will continue laying throughout many of these years, although not quite as prolifically.
What Increases a Chickens Life Expectancy?
There are a lot of environmental factors that can shorten your chicken’s lifespan. Chickens that free range are more likely to encounter predators and therefore may have a shorter life. However, free ranging can also be good for them in other ways such as giving them more exercise, adding more nutrition into their diet, and decreasing their likelihood of disease.
Feed your chickens a well rounded diet that includes all their essential nutrients, including calcium! Nutritional deficiencies can cause various problems and you may not even know about them until it’s too late to save your bird.
Even if you keep your chickens in a run, you can still help them live happy and healthy lives. Make sure you’re cleaning your coop periodically to prevent bacteria and other nastiness from building up in the area. Keeping your coop predator proof will discourage disease and accidents as well.
Chickens that have plenty of space for moving and getting away from aggressive flock members will also have healthier, longer lives. (Not to mention stressed chickens don’t lay as many eggs…). And having plenty of ventilation in your coop will also help your birds stay happy, healthy, and laying eggs for as long as they can.
Chickens are so much fun to have around and are so useful! Even when my birds get older, we still enjoy having them as part of our flock. If you have the space and the time for some chicken retirements it can be a fun part of raising your own flock.
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