How Long Do Chickens Live?

How old am I?

Chickens, whether you consider them your pets or food, have their normal life expectancy just like any other living beings. The question How long do chickens live is not really one that you hear often since poultry are rarely kept for more than 2 years. But if they’re not meant to become the next Chicken McNuggets at McDonald’s, it’s interesting to know how long they’re really supposed to live.

The life expectancy of chickens generally depends on the conditions under which they are kept. Would you believe that pet chickens can live a relatively long time, sometimes longer than dogs? That’s if they are properly cared for of course and is often a rare scenario. A hen in a regular backyard setting can be expected to live 8 up to 10 years. There have been reports in some cases where chickens have been known to live as long as 20 years.

But let’s take a closer look at these different conditions and find out why some chickens have shorter lives than others.

Don’t forget to check out how long do ducks live.

Death Due to Diseases

Most chickens do not make it past the two-year mark because of fatal infectious respiratory diseases. Although treatment with antibiotics is available and may allow them to survive for longer, unfortunately the disease isn’t always noticed and treated on time.

Other diseases known to kill chickens frequently are kidney failure and fatty liver disease. With proper feeding, these two can be prevented.

Laying Glitches

As for hens, they tend to die in the first two years because of laying glitches. Making eggs can be a complicated process and does not always work smoothly. There are two main issues that occur in hens that cause these laying glitches. They are internal laying and prolapse. Internal laying or blind layer problem is when your chicken’s oviducts or egg tubes are not functioning properly while prolapse, also known as vent prolapse is when a chicken’s insides seem to be coming out. Their internal reproductive tract becomes loose which makes laying eggs painful and eventually, fatal.

Another problem that can occur in hens is when they can no longer process calcium to make solid egg shells. Thus, the eggs break inside and can cause death.

Cancer and Tumors

Other times, chickens also get diseases that are irreversible such as cancers and tumors, which are quite prevalent.

Ineffective Veterinary Help

The fact is that chickens do get sick and unfortunately, veterinary help is often hard to find and when you do, it can be significantly expensive and is rarely effective. Sick hens often suffer for weeks before dying. Owners are then faced with difficult decisions about euthanasia.


In any case, not all chickens are as lucky as the ones we’ve mentioned can live for many, many years. Essentially, chickens have an average life expectancy of up to two years given the complications that owners tend to face in keeping them. But when conditions are ideal, meaning no diseases or laying problems, they can live longer sometimes up to 10 or more years.

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