Q: How long do chickens live?
A: Naturally, this will depend on the conditions under which they're kept. Pet chickens that are properly cared for can live a relatively long time---longer than dogs, sometimes, although that's rare. It's common for a hen in a backyard setting to live 8-10 years, but we've also heard reports of chickens living as many as 20 years!
"When I grow up, Dotty, I will introduce you to my children."
The older they get, of course, the fewer eggs they lay, but think of all their other valuable functions besides being a loved member of the family: tick-eating, mosquito-eating, and fly-eating, not to mention they're still fertilizer machines! You can read more information on our blog about why keeping older hens in the flock can be a great idea--even economical!
Not all chickens are so lucky, though! Factory farms slaughter "meat" birds at only six weeks old, while egg layers are slaughtered at only one or two years old. Why? Because they may be laying eggs at a rate of one fewer a week. In fact, many people rescue "spent" layers from factory farms because... they're not really spent. These high production breeds are still probably laying four or five eggs per week--in other words, they lay more than many popular backyard breeds do, even at the peak of their laying.
To read about how long hens lay eggs, please read the related topics below.