How Long do Chickens Live? That is the question. The answer, well it depends. For most backyard chicken owners, we know we usually only get a few years, if that, with our chickens.
However, they can live much longer than that. It just so happens that predators and sickness may end up taking them at an early age.
Healthy chickens that don’t succumb to the demise of predators or any of the possible sickness, or diseases, usually live around 8 years.
However, there are reports of chickens living much longer.
Matilda – The Oldest Reported Chicken
A chicken named Matilda is in the Guinness World Record Book, as being the oldest chicken ever reported. She was 16 years old when she passed away in 2006.
Reportedly, she was an indoor chicken. She worked for much of her life, in a magician act with her caretakers.
I imagine that her caretakers took very good care of her. She probably had a good diet. Plus, many of the disease and sickness that attack our chickens, lie in the dirt and well…the poop.
Not being around those might have helped, plus she was safe from predators. Thus, leading to a long life.
How Long do Chickens Live?
If a chicken can manage to avoid the dangers of disease, sickness, and predators they usually will live around 8 years. Sometimes a little longer.
If you’ve been wondering how long do chickens live, it really depends on how they’re cared for. It goes to say a healthy chicken may live longer.
- Their diet is very important. Read more about What to Feed Chickens. A good healthy diet can go a long way
- A clean coop can help cut down on bacteria that cause sickness or disease.
- Gather eggs daily.
Check out more tips for having Healthy Chickens.
Predators | How Long do Chickens Live?
I don’t know about you but many people I speak to, experience more deaths due to predator attacks than any other cause.
Keeping your chickens safe from predators is easier said than done.
My neighbor has had many chickens taken by hawks. We get them in droves here!
However, I’ve never had not even one chicken taken by a hawk. I’ve had them attempt to take a younger one who didn’t know how to hide well, but it failed because I caught him red handed.
Anywho, I get less hawk attacks because our chickens have plenty of places to hide. We live in the woods. There is only a small amount of woods cut back on our property for the house and some sheds, and the driveway.
The woods, under the porch and in the bushes, we have in the landscaping allows for experienced chickens to hide from predators.
My neighbor on the other hand hardly has any trees where the chickens free-range. They don’t have bushes or a porch where they could hide. It’s just a big wide-open field, for the most part.
Having a place to hide from hawks is critical!
Other ways to help protect from predators is having predator-proof chicken coops, electric chicken wire fencing, hunting predators (if possible), and gather eggs daily since they are a food source for many animals.
Disease | How Long do Chickens Live?
I just want to chat a little bit about the diseases that can cut a chicken’s life short. Some of these can start at birth, and some in adulthood.
External parasites – Mites, fleas, ticks, can inflict damage to feathers, cause anemia, and irritation to chickens, but the consequences can be more severe too. Some parasites can cause life threatening illnesses like tick fever.
Internal parasites – Roundworms, and single-celled organisms called Coccidia, Trichomonas, and Giardia can attack the intestine lining. Then, it absorbs nutrients from the gut.
Therefore, if you notice that your chicken has lost weight, pale combs, and/or diarrhea, you may want to take your chicken to see a vet. However, a vet should be able to test the chicken to see if it has internal parasites and prescribe a good treatment.
Keep a clean coop and run area can help cut down on these internal parasites.
Other Sickness & Diseases | How Long do Chickens Live?
Marek’s Disease – A viral infection that only affects poultry. This virus can spread from chicken to chicken, together with feather dander, and dust. In addition to that, It lives for long periods of time and can travel via tools, dirt, clothes, etc…
Chickens can be infected with this disease when they are young. However, the chicken may not show signs of being infected until months after.
This terrible infection attacks white blood cells. Subsequently, this causes cancer. Other side effects would be tumors, weight loss, diarrhea, and respiratory issues.
There is a vaccine that can be given to day-old chicks, and you can get it from your local veterinarian. Most hatcheries vaccinate chicks.
Respiratory disease – Chickens have an especially feeble respiratory system. However, keeping their coop clean, can greatly increase the air they breathe at nighttime. Respiratory issues include: coughing, sneezing, and discharge from eyes or nose.
Fowl Pox – Yet another viral infection. In this case, the disease comes from biting insects and sometimes spreads through a scratch or other wound. Generally, scabs form on the comb and wattles. Furthermore, a worse version of this infection creates scabs in the mouth and throat.
Conversely, most cases of Fowl Pox will improve without being treated. However, you can get a vaccine for your chickens, but it must be done every few years. If a chicken survives the infection, some say it will be immune for life.
In conclusion, many of us don’t see chickens that live much more than a few years. However, they can live for about 8 years if their life is not interrupted by disease or predators.
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