How long do chickens live? What to know about the lifespan of the bird and more.


Chickens are among the most common domesticated animals in the world, with the global population topping over 33 billion as of 2020. Despite their prevalence, there may be a lot you might not know about the bird.

In fact, did you know that chickens shared ancestry with dinosaurs? Even though their distant cousins lived for many years, what about the modern chicken’s lifespan?

Here is how long chickens live, plus a brief rundown of the egglaying process for hens.

How long do chickens live?

The lifespan of a chicken varies. The average lifespan of a hen is between six and eight years, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During three to four of those years, hens will produce eggs.

The oldest living chicken is Peanut from Michigan who was born in 2002 and is 20 years old, according to Guinness World Records.

How many eggs does a chicken lay a day?

At their peak, hens lay up to one egg per day. The process of laying a single egg usually takes between 24 to 26 hours, according to Purina Mills, an animal feed company that services popular brands like Land O’ Lakes.

In order for an egg to form, a hen will go through several stages:

  • Yolk release
  • Egg white creation
  • Egg shape formation
  • Eggshell formation
  • Egg bloom and release

Each step occurs over a specific period of time and is integral to the development and formation of an egg.

Female chicks are born with thousands of immature yolks in their bodies. Once a yolk has been “been selected to develop,” the growth process takes around 10 days. The yolk will then drop into the oviduct, signaling the “yolk release.” This takes about 30 minutes.

The longest, and most significant, part of an egg’s formation is when it develops in a hen’s uterus or “shell gland,” according to Purina Mills. This takes approximately 20 hours. The egg’s shell and color will form during the last five hours.

From there, it takes seconds for the formed egg to be released. A hen will restart this process until she’s laid around eight to 12 eggs, and then she will take a break.

Just Curious for more? We’ve got you covered

USA TODAY is exploring the questions you and others ask every day. From “Can chickens fly?” to “Is chicken red meat?” to “How long does chicken last in the fridge?” − we’re striving to find answers to the most common questions you ask every day. Head to our Just Curious section to see what else we can answer for you.

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