Average Chicken Lifespan – How Long Do Chickens Live

Chicken Lifespan

Want to know Life Expectancy of Chickens? One of the most frequently asked questions about chickens is the Average Chicken Lifespan. How long do chickens live naturally on average? How does the average chicken lifespan vary by breed and purpose?

The average chicken lifespan is 5-10 years.

Its important to know how long you’ll have your flock around for, and you’re not alone into this. Many backyard chicken keepers wonder about the average lifespan they can expect from their feathery friends.

You’ll learn reasonable lifespan expectations for common backyard chicken breeds like Easter eggers, bantams, and Silkies.

Average Chicken Lifespan

Average Chicken Lifespan
Average Chicken Lifespan

On average chickens live for 5-10 years in captivity, but there is variation between different breeds and individual chickens.

Laying hens, the type of chickens raised for egg production, tend to have shorter lifespans of 2-4 years on average. This is because they are intensively bred and raised for high egg production, which takes a toll on their bodies over time.

Meat chickens, bred for meat production, have the shortest lifespans – typically only 6-8 weeks before slaughter. They are selectively bred to grow very fast.

Backyard chickens and heritage breed chickens tend to live longer, with lifespans of 8-10 years being common. Their slower growth and less intensive production mean less stress on their bodies.

Muffy, a Red Quill Muffed American Game chicken, holds the record for the oldest chicken ever, living to be 23 years and 152 days old3.

How Long Do Chickens Live as Pets

How Long Do Chickens Live as Pets

On average, chickens live 5-10 years as pets. With excellent care and breed, they can occasionally live over 15 years.

Heritage chicken breeds like Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, and Cochins tend to live 8-10 years as pets. They are bred for dual purpose meat and egg production.

Bantam chickens are small breeds often kept as pets. They average 7-10 years lifespans with some living 12 years or more. Popular pet bantams include Silkies, Dutch, Isa and Sebrights.

What Is the Oldest Recorded Age for a Chicken

  • Peanut, a 21-year-old chicken from Michigan, was officially named the world’s oldest living chicken by Guinness World Records. She was abandoned by her mother when she was still inside the egg and was saved by a retired librarian, Marsi Darwin1
  • Peanut lived a comfortable and healthy lifestyle, which may have contributed to her longevity4.
  • Muffy, a Red Quill Muffed American Game chicken, holds the record for the oldest chicken ever, living to be 23 years and 152 days old3.
  • The average lifespan for a bantam hen like Peanut is roughly five to 10 years8. Experts believe that Peanut’s longevity was due to the love and care Darwin gave her8.

How Long Do Chickens Live In the Wild

How Long Do Chickens Live In the Wild

According to journal Poultry Science the average lifespan of chicken is 5-8 years in wild.

Chickens in the wild, or red junglefowl which are the ancestors of domesticated chickens, can live considerably longer than domesticated chickens.

The study also found that the longest lived red junglefowl reached ages of 12-20 years. The increased lifespan in the wild is likely due to the chickens being able to live in their natural environment with a natural diet and without the stressors of commercial egg/meat production.

Some key factors that allow wild red junglefowl to reach lifespans over 5 years on average:

  • Natural habitat provides ability to free range, exercise, and manage stress levels
  • Balanced diet from foraging insects, seeds, plants
  • Smaller clutch sizes of eggs reduces reproductive stress
  • Exposure to diverse pathogens stimulates stronger immune systems
  • Lower densities reduce communicable illnesses

The average domestic chicken may live 2-5 years, red junglefowl can regularly live over a decade thanks to their natural environment and behaviors. Proper care and husbandry approaches that mimic wild conditions promote longevity in backyard and free range chickens as well.

Chicken Life Cycle

Chicken Life Cycle

The chicken life cycle begins with the fertilization and laying of an egg. A hen can mate and lay fertile eggs beginning at around 18-20 weeks of age . After mating, the hen will lay fertilized eggs about 25 hours later, with the ability to lay eggs almost daily.

Chicken eggs take about 21 days to hatch (2). During this incubation period, the fertilized egg will develop into a chick embryo within the egg.

On day 21 of incubation, the chick will use its egg tooth to peck out of the shell. This is known as hatching. Newly hatched chicks are covered in fluffy down and rely fully on their mother for warmth, protection and food.

Over the next 4-6 weeks, the chick will grow and develop feathers to replace its down. This phase is known as brooding. Chicks require high protein feed for rapid growth in their first weeks of life.

Around 6 months old, pullets (young females) will reach the point of lay and begin producing and laying their own eggs. Hens tend to have prime egg production from 1-2 years old. Egg laying declines as hens get older.

After 2-3 years, hen egg production drops off significantly. At this point, they are considered spent hens. The average commercial laying hen lifespan is around 2-4 years.

In a backyard setting, chickens can live 5-10 years on average, sometimes longer with excellent care. Heritage breed chickens and wild red junglefowl can live 5-8 years and up to 12-20 years respectively.

Chicken Lifespan Chart

Chicken Lifespan Chart

The highest lifespans are seen in heritage breeds and bantams that are not selectively bred for high production. Free-ranging, a natural diet, and preventative healthcare also extends average chicken lifespan significantly.

How to increase the average lifespan of chickens

To extend the average lifespan of your chickens, here are some important tips.

Choose breeds wisely – Heritage and dual purpose breeds like Orpingtons, Australorps, and Plymouth Rocks generally live longer than production breeds like Leghorns. Aim for 5+ year lifespan breeds.

Provide plenty of space – Allow at least 4 square feet inside the coop and 8-10 square feet in the run per bird. Overcrowding causes stress.

Allow free-ranging – Access to fresh air and exercise boosts health and immunity. Rotate ranging areas to provide new foraging spots.

Feed quality diet – Offer a balanced feed with 16-18% protein, calcium for shell strength, and antioxidants for immunity. Supplement with scraps.

Encourage natural behaviors – Provide dust baths, roosts, and nest boxes so chickens can express their natural behaviors.

Practice good biosecurity – Quarantine new birds. Keep wild birds away. Clean coop/runs to prevent disease spread.

Groom chickens – Check for external parasites. Clip nails and trim feathers if needed. Keeping clean prevents issues.

Observe flock daily – Monitor for injuries, illness, behavior changes. Isolate and treat sick birds promptly.

Control predators – Use secure fencing and coop locks. House birds safely at night. Deter aerial predators.

Manage in winter – Insulate the coop, use heat lamps for warmth, ensure adequate ventilation, check water frequently to prevent freezing.

By choosing long-lived breeds, feeding well, allowing natural behaviors, maintaining health, and following good management practices, you can help your backyard chickens thrive and reach their maximum lifespan potential.

Average Chicken Life Expectancy vs other poultry animals

Chicken Life Expectancy

Here is a comparison of the average lifespan of chickens versus other common poultry animals:


  • Laying hens: 2-4 years
  • Meat chickens: 6-8 weeks
  • Backyard/pet chickens: 5-8 years
  • Record: 16 years


  • Commercial turkeys: 2-3 years
  • Wild turkeys: 3-4 years
  • Record: 12 years


  • Meat/Pekin ducks: 2-3 years
  • Pet ducks: 5-8 years
  • Wild ducks: 10-20 years
  • Record: 20 years


  • Commercial geese: 3-4 years
  • Pet geese: 10-15 years
  • Wild geese: 10-24 years
  • Record: 40 years


  • Ringneck pheasants: 2-5 years
  • Wild pheasants: 1.5-2.5 years
  • Record: 9-12 years


  • Bobwhite quail: 1-2 years
  • Coturnix quail: 2-3 years
  • Record: 5-7 years

Commercially raised poultry tends to have the shortest lifespans of 2-4 years, while wild and pet/hobby poultry can live significantly longer into the 5-20 year range. Geese and macaws stand out with potential lifespans over 30 years. Proper care and habitat contributes greatly to longevity across all poultry.

What Do Chickens Eat?

Chickens are omnivores and require a well-balanced diet to stay healthy and productive. Their diet should include carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water.

  • Commercial feed – Most chickens are fed a commercial pelleted feed that contains grains, protein sources, vitamins, and minerals. This provides a balanced diet.
  • Grains – Chickens enjoy grains like corn, wheat, oats, and barley. They get energy from the carbohydrates.
  • Vegetables/Fruits – Chickens will eat most veggies and fruits including leafy greens, broccoli, berries, melons, tomatillos, squash etc.
  • Insects/Worms – Chickens are omnivores and will seek out bugs, worms, grubs in the soil. Great source of protein.
  • Seeds – They enjoy sunflower seeds, flax seeds, millet. Good source of fat, beans, fiber and minerals.
  • Table scraps – Leftover greens, grains, meats, eggshells, dairy etc. Can supplement but shouldn’t be only diet.
  • Grit – Chickens need grit such as sand, soil or oyster shells to grind and digest food in their gizzards.
  • Treats – Used sparingly as treats – unsalted popcorn, cracked corn, mealworms, fresh fruits.

Find Out : – Chickens Eat BaconChickens Eat Sausage


How long do chickens live after they stop laying?

Laying hens typically live around 2-4 years total. They are most productive for the first 1-2 years, then egg production declines.

After 2 years old, most hens have stopped or significantly reduced laying. But they can still live a few more years.

In commercial operations, hens are “spent” and culled after 1-2 laying seasons. But pet chickens can live 3-5 years after they stop laying with proper care.

Factors like breed, diet, predator exposure, and illness impact post-laying lifespan. Heritage breeds tend to live longer than commercial hybrids.

With good nutrition and healthcare, backyard hens can live 5+ years after retiring from laying. The oldest chicken recorded lived to 16 years old.

How long do free range chickens live?

On average, free range chicken lifespan is 1-2 years longer than confined chickens. Their lifespans average 6-10 years.

The increased lifespan is due to reduced stress, stronger immune systems, and more exercise from ranging freely.

Commercial free range layer hens live around 3-5 years normally. Backyard free range chickens living 6-8 years is common.

Heritage and bantam breeds that are allowed to free range regularly reach 10 years or older. The longevity record is 16 years.

About Irfan Iqbal DVM

Hi, Dr irfan here, i have done Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from UVAS, Lahore which is one of the university of pakistan.

i have extensive experience in
1-Disease diagnosis
3-neutring, spaying,
5-urinary catheter passing, ear cropping, tail docking and other surgeries.
6- restraining, handling of pets especially dogs and cats
7- expert in management of feed and nutritional requirements
8- Dog training and basic obedience to owner.
9- teaching commands like sit, come, stop, as well as litre training and name recognizing

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