sketch of Hen with chicks
Chicken Care

How Long Does a Chicken Live: Factors Affecting Lifespan



What comes into this world also has to go. That is the circle of life. Chickens, just like any other living being, also have to complete this cycle. However, every species has its own average lifespan. Even in a single species, there are often multiple categories.

This micro-categorization also determines the lifespan. I will discuss the various factors that come into play and how you can prolong your chickens’ lifespan in a completely natural way.

hen roaming on grass

Factors Affecting a Chicken’s Lifespan

Multiple factors are responsible for determining the lifespan of a chicken. Some of these are controllable while some are not controllable. Generally, I like to classify the factors into two types:

Controllable Factors

These are the factors that are in your control. Your chicken’s lifespan depends partially on you:

  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Veterinarian Care
  • Injecting Hormones
  • Exposure to Artificial Sunlight
  • Environment

Diet and Nutrition

chickens eating nutritional food

Feeding your chickens the proper stuff is an important one. You do not want to skip on this one. Even though they are wild animals, only a handful of things are actually beneficial for them.

Natural things are good for them (obviously). Sure, they may eat stuff that will be harmful to them. The effects of that will not be seen instantly. It is much more like our drinking carbonated soft drinks which are harmful to us in the long run.

If you are confused about which foods to give to your chickens, click here.

Veterinarian Care

veterinary medicine and injection

If you’re not an expert who can tell what’s wrong with a chicken just by taking a look at it, I suggest you get them checked frequently by a vet. Get check-ups done every 4 months. If you own a flock, it can be a nuisance to get them all to the vet.

Instead, try inviting the vet to your place. This has the added advantage that the chickens won’t be upset by travelling (if they’ve been raised in villages).

Injecting Hormones


Growth hormones are injected to make chickens mature at an early age. The quicker a chicken gets mature, the more money is made from its eggs and slaughtering them.

However, this is the worst thing that you can do to your chickens. This does mature them quickly but in the absolutely worst way possible. They become unfit and are unable to even roam properly.

They just keep on sitting in the same spot for hours. The lack of exercise and their internals being messed around with kills them quickly.

Exposure to Artificial Light

chickens raised in artificial light
Animals photo created by gpointstudio –

Chickens need an average of 16 hours of sunlight for optimal egg-laying. In the winters, they receive much less sunlight than they do in the summers. So, they lay eggs at a slower rate than they do in the summers.

To change this, artificial light is used. Artificial light does not have any harmful effects on the chickens directly. However, it alters with the natural process. The sunlight mechanism serves as a way to give the chickens some rest.

Laying eggs is an energy-consuming process. Chickens take their much-needed rest in the winters. By disturbing this schedule of the chickens, you will keep them in a constant state of stress.

It is much like a human working 7 days a week. Yeah, that would suck.


Depending on how domesticated your breed is, you will have to give it the environment accordingly. Some chicken breeds, like the Death layer, are shy and need open space. Some breeds, however, are not so shy and are comfortable living in small spaces.

Giving chickens the environment of their choice makes them live in a stress-free environment. The majority of the chicken breeds prefer an open environment. However, an “open” environment should also be controlled.

Uncontrollable Factors

Here are some of the uncontrollable factors responsible for a chicken’s death:

  • Diseases
  • Predators
  • Breed
  • Genetics


brown sick chicken with eye closed
Food photo created by tawatchai07 –

The most famous of the diseases which take a chicken unexpectedly is Marek’s disease. Most of the chickens affected by this show no symptoms (asymptomatic). So, it can be hard to detect.

The worst part being the spreading. One chicken can spread this to the whole flock if the other chickens are unvaccinated.

It is highly recommended that you vaccinate your chickens to protect them from such highly contagious diseases. Vaccination can prevent this.


hawk flying with wings open
dog closeup with mouth open
flying eagle

Hawks, eagles and dogs are a chicken’s worst nightmare. Dogs kill chickens more than anything does. I mentioned something about controlling an open environment. This is what I was talking about.

If you keep your chickens in an open environment, it is important that you have some sort of mechanism to protect them from predators. Placing simple barriers can do the job for dogs. For aerial predators, you’re going to have to build something. I would not suggest doing so.

It would cost you a lot of time and money to build or buy something just to save a couple of chickens. It’s better to let a few chickens be eaten by hawks and eagles.


Three hens and one rooster of different breeds

The type of breed is the main factor that influences how long a chicken will live. Different types of breeds live for different periods of time. Chickens that lay eggs usually do not live for long – exceptions are always there. I will get into the details of this in the later section.


pictorial representation of DNA

You may take care of two chickens in exactly the same way. They both might be from the same breed. Born on the same day, fed the same things, given the same environment yet one of them will outlive the other one.

This is something that is totally random. A part of this depends on the chicken’s genes. There’s nothing that you can do to change this.

Average Lifespans Breed-wise

Death Layer

Even though this breed is used to farm eggs, it still lives pretty long. Plus, the quality and quantity of its eggs do not deteriorate with the passage of time. You can expect them to live around 6 years.

ISA Browns

ISA Browns, another breed used to farm eggs, does not have a long lifespan. The death layer is the only egg-laying breed that has a long lifespan. ISA Browns have a lifespan of around 3 years.

Easter Eggers

This breed is known for its colorful eggs. The goal with this chicken is not to produce a lot of eggs; it is to produce a handful of colorful eggs. Because of this, it does not lay eggs regularly. Thus, it lives through a handful of years – 8 to be taken as a rough estimate.

Rhode Island Reds

They do not need a lot of care as compared to other breeds. That is why they live to around 8 years of age.

Golden Comets

Another breed used for eggs, the Golden Comets live moderately long. Expect around 5 years with this breed.


These are pretty sturdy as well. Unlike other breeds, which easily become stressed by transportation and handling, Wyandottes don’t. This egg-laying breed can manage to make it to around 7 years.

Shorting-living Breeds

These breeds live for the shortest time spans. Here are those breeds:

  • ISA Browns
  • Golden Comets

Longest-living Breeds

Here are the longest-living breeds. One of these is an egg-laying breed:

  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Easter Eggs (not an official breed)
  • Wyandottes
  • Death Layer (Egg-laying)

Breeds and Usage

I told you that different breeds have different lifespans; but why is that so? Here’s why.

Some breeds are hybrid while some are heritage. Heritage breed, as the one suggests, is the breed that has not been tampered with. To know more about hybrid and heritage breeds, click here.

In short, heritage breeds tend to live longer than other breeds do.

An egg-laying chicken will definitely live much shorter than a chicken which does not lay eggs regularly.

How to Increase the Lifespan of Chickens:

Here’s how you can ensure your chickens live a long life – provided their breed type allows them to do so.

  1. Get regular check-ups done by a vet
  2. Give them a natural environment
  3. Avoid the use of artificial light
  4. Do not use growth hormones
  5. Get them vaccinated
  6. Take care of their diet


A lot of factors are indeed responsible for a chicken’s lifespan but the main factor is the breed type; that is what determines a chicken’s average lifespan.

Wild chickens live for only about a few years, while backyard and farm chickens can live up to a decade if the circumstances are in their favor.

Even though a chicken may live up to 8 or so years, it becomes “useless” when it gets old; the quality and quantity of its eggs start deteriorating and the meat isn’t as fresh as that of a young one.

Of your breeds, which one lives the longest? What special arrangements did you make for it to get it to live that long? Share with everyone in the comments.

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