Lifespan of a hen

Chickens are one of the most common livestock. They are also among the farm animals with the shortest lifespan of all. A hen is an adult female chicken mostly known for its role in egg laying, hatching, and breeding. Because of this, farmers and poultry owners pay more attention to the well-being and life span of this particular chicken. We, therefore, examine a hen’s life expectancy and the various factors that may impact its life span. Here are three:

Hen’s Breed

There are various breeds of hens identified with each breed possessing one or two benefits to the farmer or poultry owner. Breeds are responsible for things such as laying eggs in layers and providing meat by broilers. It’s because of this that hens of different breeds have varying lifestyles with varying life spans. For instance, an egg-laying hen has a longer life span than a broiler hen which is slaughtered a few weeks after it is hatched for meat purposes. On the other hand, a village hen has a longer life span as it lives its life in a natural manner with less interference from humans.


Hens encounter diseases in nature that may eventually cause death if not treated. Some of the deadliest chicken diseases are Fowl Cholera, Avian Influenza, Newcastle, and Fowl pox. As a prevention measure, poultry owners often times give their birds some antibiotics for strengthening their immune systems.


Predators also contribute to the short life span of hens, especially for the backyard hens in villages and rural compounds. Dogs, fowls, and cats usually prey on the chicks and sometimes the hens themselves. In villages, there are wild animals such as hyenas, and snakes that pose a threat to a hen’s life.

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What is the exact life expectancy of a hen?

The above-mentioned factors entail that hens do not live up to their life expectancy as their lives are cut short. The obvious reason is the purpose they are reared. For instance, broilers may be well fenced and vaccinated to avoid diseases and predators, but live up to a month and some days depending on the size. Therefore, the life of a hen really depends on its use.

Perhaps a hen with the longest life expectancy is the one traditionally known as the ‘village chicken’ usually kept in backyards and sometimes left to freely roam around picking its own food. These types of hens may live up to 6 to 10 years. An average hen has a life expectancy of 3 to 8 years and sometimes longer, that is if proper care, nutrition, and treatment are provided. Egg-laying hens on the other hand live up to 16 to 20 months before it is considered not effective for egg-laying purposes.

Male Chickens

The fate of male chicks is particularly sad: Most are slaughtered at one day of age because the industry has no use for them. They don’t lay eggs and produce much less meat than a broiler, so raising them is uneconomical. Furthermore, they are territorial, therefore, causing too many fights in the poultry. The fate of day-old chicks is one of the greatest problems in poultry farming from an animal welfare point of view.

While it may be difficult to tell the exact life expectancy of a hen as they are reared for various purposes, Poultry farmers and other chicken owners can easily plan ahead according to the estimated life expectancy of a certain hen’s breed.

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