You are thinking about owning your own flock of chickens and you wonder about many things. One of the first questions that come to mind is how long do chickens live! In order to answer that, we must take into consideration some parameters which affect the lifespan of your birds, so that you will know for how long you will have them in your backyard!
What Affects a Chicken’s Lifespan
The average lifespan of our birds is usually about 3 to 10 years. Some might grow even to 20 years when the conditions are favorable! As you can imagine, it always depends on several factors!
Diseases affecting organisms are the most common problem a farmer might encounter. There are many kinds and although they might not all be fatal, they definitely reduce the life of a chicken.
Fowlpox is a virus that results in stopping the egg production of a hen. This effect will have a negative outcome on the organism of the bird and maybe a fatal result.
Another viral disease that affects mostly roosters. It damages the organs and the joints of the chicken and it might appear at any age.
A very common disease that influences in a pretty bad way our chickens. They lose their appetite, and their system might be unable to absorb the necessary nutrients. The mortality of coccidiosis is pretty high.
Like humans, birds might come across flu. This kind of virus might not be fatal, but it is quite spreadable from birds to birds, birds to humans, and humans to other animals.
Parasites And Lice
Parasites do not cause death in your flock directly. The problem is that they might frazzle your chickens and cause a drop in their energy. The result of that will be a lower lifespan.
I believe we are all aware of salmonella. It might affect young chickens and it will not cause problems directly to them. It will cause problems to humans though who might choose to terminate the life of those birds.
Marek’s disease is cancer that spreads to the nervous system of the chicken. The common age when it might occur is 12 to 25 weeks of your bird’s life, and the mortality is pretty high.
This disease has many symptoms like swollen eyes, diarrhea, snoring, and nose discharge. It is curable when it is diagnosed at the right time and it might appear at any age!
In order to make the possibility of encountering these diseases less, you must follow some tips. Firstly, it is important to vaccinate your chicken, give them food with the correct supplements, and pay visits to the vet regularly.
Another crucial point is to check the health of the new chickens before you let them in your older flock! Most of all, always pay attention to your birds and observe for any suspecting behavior.
To live longer, one must follow a healthy diet. Nowadays, there are many kinds of feed for your birds which include the nutrients necessary for their health. Since their needs are different depending on their age, there exist different feeds as well! For example, little chicks must be fed with starter feed, hens need a feed with more calcium to produce eggs and meat chickens need protein for rapid growth most of all.
Furthermore, as much as you would love to give them treats, you must consider going easy on them. Too many of them will result in overweight and poor health chickens!
When it comes to a chicken’s lifespan, genetic characteristics and breeds play an important role. There is a big difference between heritage and hybrid chickens according to the extension of their life and also, there are breeds that live longer than others.
The two main categories of chickens are the heritage and the hybrids. Heritage chickens are the ones who have grown in a natural environment and their organism hasn’t been altered from human intervention. The hybrid ones are bred for the sole purpose of egg-laying and some of them are also for meat.
Considering the above, heritage birds have a longer lifespan than hybrid ones. That is because the second is engineered so that they will offer mass egg production in a small period of time. Weakened feathers, small legs, and 2-3 years of life only to lay the eggs. After that, they will be slaughtered for their meat.
Heritage chickens are the most healthy ones. Breeds like Rhode Island Reds live eight years or more and Plymouth Rocks might survive 10 to 12 years when they are raised in a good environment. Living outdoor and mate in a natural way with roosters are two of the characteristics of these chickens.
Also Read: Best Chicken Egg Incubator
There are challenges to overcome inside and outside a chicken coop. To help your birds survive longer, firstly you must make sure that they have the proper fence protection from predators. Some of them are foxes, hawks, or even raccoons, which will go in and hunt your chicken for food. Make sure the fence is impenetrable and patch any holes which a wild animal might have made.
In addition to the protection from outside dangers, you must take care of the inside conditions too. Create proper housing for the chickens with many comfortable and spacey coops.
Also, consider that they must be built in a way that it will not be too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter inside. Nowadays, there exist many special coops which keep the right temperature any given season!
Also Read: Best chicken coop heaters
To sum up, it is not an easy job to keep your chickens healthy and with long life, but it is worth the try. The longest lifespan of a chicken ever recorded was sixteen years! This makes us think that in the proper environment and with the proper care, your birds will live a long, happy life!