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Discover Exactly How Long Chickens Live For!😊

how long do chickens live

We're chatting about chickens, right? Not turkeys? You know a pet chicken is not just for Christmas, but how long is this chick expecting you to commit for? 

Nobody likes to talk about hens hopping off to heaven, but they do, eventually. It's important to understand a chicken's life cycle before dabbling in keeping your own coop troop. Chickens live for 5 – 10 years, so inviting them into your world needs as much consideration as taking on a puppy or a kitten. 

A hen can live for 3-4 times as long as she'll lay eggs🥚, so the relationship is far from finished once she's past her prime.

If you're ready to go steady and make a long-term commitment, the great news is that you have a significant amount of control over how long your chicken is likely to live. Some things can't be helped - that's nature - but when it comes to keeping chickens in the modern world, lots of potential disasters are avoidable.

If you take anything from this blog, please let it be this thought:

The two most common causes of premature death in pet chickens are preventable but not curable, so their life is genuinely in your hands. Sorry about the poultry-parent guilt!

This blog is for you if you want to know…

How Long Do Pet Chickens Live?

Which Chickens Live the Longest?

How Long Do Production Chickens Live?

How Long Do Hybrid Breed Chickens Live?

Can A Chicken Live For 15 Years?

How Old is The Oldest Chicken on Record?

Can A Chicken Live For 20 Years?

When Does a Chicken Class as Old?

Which Chicken Breeds Live the Longest?

Which Chicken Breeds Have the Shortest Lifespans?

Breed-Specific Life Expectancies 

How Long Do Roosters Live?

How Long Do Bantam Chickens Live?

How Long Do Giant Chickens Live?

How Long Do Rescue Chickens Live?

Do Free Range Chickens Live Longer?

How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

How Long Will I Have to Keep a Hen After She Stops Laying?

What Causes Early Death in Chickens?

How Can I Help My Chicken Live Longer?

How Long Do Pet Chickens Live?

Pet chickens live for 5 – 10 years, on average. Pets and backyard birds can live longer than wild chickens and farm hens simply because they are so well-loved and cared for. Safe housing, good grub, veterinary care, and a little love can significantly impact your pet's life.

Lots of poultry pets still don't live for as many years as they could. What's super sad is that premature deaths are often down to avoidable factors. How can this be? Even the most caring keepers amongst us are guilty of taking our chicken's health for granted or unintentionally making the wrong choices that put our pets at risk. We're only human.

Investing in the well-being of your chickens with knowledge and prevention is more successful and cheaper than the faint-inducing fees that come with veterinary intervention. 

Which Chickens Live the Longest?

Heritage and dual-purpose chickens such as the Plymouth Rock and the Orpington live the longest. Heritage chicken breeds live for 8 - 10 years. 

Landrace or heritage chickens are Mother Nature's creation. Their diverse genetics mean that Darwin has had his way: the fittest survived, and the fittest tend to live longer! 

They aren't bred for once specific purpose, so their bodies don't grow as fast or work as hard as production chicken breeds.


How Long Do Production Chickens Live For?

Production chicken breeds live for 3-5 years. Whether they're layers or meat birds, production breeds are selected to grow faster than nature intended and mature early - so life's quite tough.

How Long Do Hybrid Breed Chickens Live?

Hybrid Chickens are mainly production chickens, so live for 2-5 years. Also known as sex-link chickens, hybrids are less likely to contract nasty illnesses and diseases and as a result, they do tend to live longer providing they aren't subject to too much stress.

Can a Chicken Live For 15 Years?

A happy, healthy, dual-purpose chicken has the potential to enjoy a long retirement and reach 12 – 15 years of age. 😱

How Old is The Oldest Chicken on Record?

The oldest chicken recorded was a Red Pyle hen called Matilda, who lived for an egg-ceptional 16 years. 

Matilda wasn't any old hen though, she lived a life of fame, first as a dancing chicken, and then as the performing pet of magician, Keith Barton.  

How did she live so long? We can assume from her career that she was an intelligent lady, and she was a truly cherished chick as a financial asset as well as a family pet.

Matilda lived in a safe, loving home with her humans, 4 cats, 3 dogs, and her best friend, the rabbit in the hat (too cute). She slept in a parrot cage and rang her 'ding ding' to let Keith know when she wanted her sheet over her cage to nap.

What I'm getting at is that Matilda wasn't outside fending off foxes and fleas. Matilda was pampered poultry!   


Can A Chicken Live For 20 Years?

Erm…maybe? There's no record of any chicken topping Matilda's 16 years, so I'd say it's unlikely. If you have a hen who can prove me wrong though, I really do want to know about it!

When Does a Chicken Class as Old?

Chickens are considered old at 5 years of age. They are not-so-politely known as biddies (hence the term old biddy) or as spent hens. I don't know which one is worse! There's no respect.

Which Chicken Breeds Live the Longest?

The three breeds with the longest lifespan are the Plymouth Rock, the Easter Egger, and the Cochin which all live for 8 – 10 years.

Which Chicken Breeds Have the Shortest Lifespans?

The shortest living chicken breeds are ISA Browns with a life expectancy of just 2-3 years, White Broilers, and Cornish Rock chickens who live for just a couple of months. 

Breed-Specific Life Expectancies:

  • Rhode Island Red 5-8
  • Silkie 7-9
  • Plymouth Rock 8-10
  • Orpington 8-10
  • Leghorn 4-6
  • Wyandotte 6 – 12
  • ISA Brown 2-3
  • Australorp 6-10
  • Cochin 8-10
  • Easter Egger 8-10
  • Polish Chickens 5-10

chicken breeds lifespan comparison

How Long Do Roosters Live For?

Roosters live for 5 -8 years on average. They're perfectly capable of living as long as their ladies do, but they tend to get into trouble. Chicken scraps and being too darn cocky in the presence of predators often results in early death for roosters. Curiosity killed the cat. Cockiness killed the roo!

How Long Do Bantam Chickens Live?

Bantam Chickens live for 4-8 years on average. This doesn't mean your dinky divas are doomed to an early grave. Record-breaking Matilda was a 14-ounce bantam, and she doubled her life expectancy with the right care.

How Long Do Giant Chickens Live?

Giant chickens live for 8 – 10 years on average. They tend to be tough cookies and aren't often bullied or subject to predation. 

How Long Do Rescue Chickens Live?

Rescue chickens are said to live for 2 – 12 months post-adoption. Ex-battery hens have had seriously tough lives, and their bodies will have been through a lot by the time you get the chance to love them back to health. 

The fact they are rescue chickens probably will reduce their life expectancy, but there is still the potential to nurse them back to full health and enjoy their grateful little faces for as long as their breeding allows. 

Do Free Range Chickens Live Longer?

Free Range chickens tend to live longer than caged chickens – but I'm assuming you're not planning on caging up your flock. If you're just keen to know if freedom counts when it comes to your chicken's lifespan, then yes, it does. 

Some breeds are more docile and happier to spend their time chillaxing in their favorite corner of the coop, but all breeds – even those lazy so-and-sos – will benefit from a brisk walk and some fresh air. Free-range chickens tend to suffer less from obesity and its resulting health issues, plus they have healthier diets full of nature's best bugs and seeds. 

However, too much freedom can come at a cost. Think fox. If your chicken isn't flighty it's tempting to give them all the room to roam their little heart's desire, but just because they won't fly off, doesn't mean something else won't get in. Choosing the right coops and runs can save your chicken from an early death, and your kids from a day of tears under the duvet.

How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs For?

Chickens lay eggs for 2-3 years, so not for most of their lives, put it that way! You wouldn't expect to spot a geriatric in the labor ward, so don't expect to stop caring for your coop-mates when they've stopped delivering the goods. 

How Long Will I Have to Keep a Hen After She Stops Laying?

You might want to trade your lazy layer in for a younger model on the production front, but pets are for life, and hens have their uses long after their eggy-days are over:

If she's still laying, but not enough to satisfy your fridge, then she may be ready for the next chapter of her life. How egg-citing! Older hens are more patient and broodier, they make calmer and wiser mamas. 

Depending on their breed and personality, they may be happy to take on a nanny role. Silkies and Cochins will gladly take on a little childcare whilst the young mums enjoy a well-earned break.😍

Older hens and roosters play a vital role in the flock as they're wiser and less distracted, so are more alert to predators. They love catching bugs and ticks, they'll still eat all those pesky weeds for you, and poop out those lovely nutrients into your garden soil. Oh, and they'll still love you.

What Causes Early Death in Chickens?

The most common causes of early death in backyard chickens are predation and Marek’s Disease. I know. It's super sad, but on the bright side, these are both arguably preventable to some degree. 

What Factors Affect a Chickens Life Expectancy?

  • Breed 

A chicken's breed will massively impact its natural life expectancy, but it won't dictate it. 

  • Gender

Hens tend to live longer than roosters, not for any reason other than boys being too cocky for their own good. 

  • Diet

Just like us humans, the quality of a chicken's diet will directly impact its health, and ultimately, its lifespan. Nutrient deficiencies can cause early onset of diseases, and too much of the good stuff (protein in chicken land) can cause obesity. 

I've nothing against curves, but carrying too much weight can impact joints, causes kidney problems, and make it a lot harder to waddle off when a predator approaches. 

Choosing the best food for your chicken's breed and stage of life will play a huge part in determining how long they are likely to live.

  • Living Conditions

Poor quality housing can be life-limiting. I'm not talking about questionable sofa choices or clashy color schemes, but a <secure, well-ventilated coop> that protects chickens from predation, and the elements will directly impact their life expectancy. 

  • Healthcare

Preventative healthcare is super-duper important if you want to keep your chickens healthy and happy. Keeping your pets wormed and vaccinated and knowing the early warning signs for common health issues will be the best time investment you make. 

factors that affect chicken lifespan

How Can I Help My Chicken Live Longer?

Knowledge is king. Researching and understanding your chicken's needs is a simple and fun way to help your chickens live their best lives. Making the right choices for your chicken's nutrition, recognizing and preventing predators, treating common parasites and health issues, and choosing the right coop, will all help your hens and roos live longer, happier healthier lives.

How Long Will I Love You?
Who's your oldest cooper-trooper? We'd love to know your old gals breed, lifestyle, and temperament. Is she a bit of an old biddy?

The best thing you can do to improve your chicken's life expectancy – and quality of life – is to provide for them based on knowledge.

Any pet parent (or little-person parent) out there knows the panic of late-night internet searches and over-emotive decision making. One minute you spot a funny limp or that they haven't eaten their favorite dinner, and the next you've spent $300 online for next-day deliveries of 'solutions' that will probably never make it out of the box. 

Getting it right from the start of your journey will save you money. Shuffling from feed brand to feed brand, replacing unsuitable housing, or even replacing Henrietta with a convincing cluckalike before the little one spots that something went wrong, all costs money.

The peace of mind of having instant access to expert advice from real people with knowledge, experience, and a healthy dose of common sense is invaluable. Sound good? Take a moment to check this out.




Jo Smith


I’m Jo. Busy Mom to two little girls, one soppy, Labrador Retriever and too many chickens to ever confess to (I’m hoping the hubby has lost count). I love to chat and I’m chicken crazy, so I really love my job: chatting chickens with you! 💕

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