It is not exact how long roosters can live as some can die at day one. Hatcheries that breed layers kill all male chicks because their intention is to hatch laying machines.
Talking of roosters alone is not enough. Covering widely on all chickens will give you an overview on the lifespan of these feathered friends in general.
What is the lifespan of chickens?
Chicken are members of the jungle fowl family an Asiatic subspecies. They can live a couple of years especially if they are raised on the right way. These birds have a life expectancy of 5 to 8 years.
However, some sources have revealed about chicken living for 15 to 20 years. This sounds strange to imagine a 20 year old fowl.
As they age, chickens will start to perform poorly and have low yields. Males will start to loose interests in females as the testerone levels will drop.
Females will not live longer than males because their bodies will already be worn out due to laying and raising young.
Most prolific layers like the Cinnamon queens and Black star chickens will already be worn out at two years of age. At this time they lower the yields and are no longer fit for eggs. Some will be sold to be butchered and their fate will end on the plate.
Factors that affect the life of chickens
For chickens to live longer there are some factors that will determine how long they will be alive. Just like us, there are things that will lengthen or shorten their lives.
Here are some of the factors that will determine the life of chicken:
Diet and Nutrition
Food is one of the basic needs in chickens. The kind of food you give to your birds will in one way or another determine how long they will live.
Just like human beings, chickens require a well-balanced diet. Denying your flock the right amount of food may lead to malnutrition. This may in turn contribute to some lifestyle diseases or even death.
Giving too much food that is not well balanced may lead to overweight birds. Too much weight will lead to back, legs, heart and respiratory system problems.
A non-balanced diet with deficiency of nutrients will make them prone to illnesses such as anemia and bone problems.
Any kind of feed that is contaminate with aflotoxin can lead to food poisoning which is a good recipe for diseases and death.
These days, there are food specifically made for chickens for a particular growth stage like starter feed for baby chicks. Some years back they were left to free range and collect anything edible on their own.
Unlike game birds that spend their lives on the wild dealing with harshness of elements and evading predator’s domestic poultry require good shelter.
Proper housing will ensure that your chickens are safe from harsh weather and free from potential predation.
A warm coop for the winter will keep chickens out of extreme low temperatures and frostbites. The material used as bedding on the coop floor should have the ability to retain warmth. A dump free chicken pen will keep them out of some respiratory issues.
Ventilation and proper air circulation is vital especially during summer. Shaded areas will give these birds a place to hide when the sun is too hot as some fluffy chickens are likely to suffer from heat stress.
Enough space and several roost bars will keep them comfortable and out of congestion. Lack of space will lead to bullying and feeding competitions. Stress will became a norm and this will have an impact in their lives.
Matters health is a key factor in the life of any living organism. Sick birds will have a short lifespan as they will easily succumb to diseases.
Sickness in chicken can be brought by bad food, internal and external parasites and general infections. Some poultry diseases are very dangerous as they spread far and wide sweeping large numbers.
Always be vigilant to always know when outbreaks occur. Vaccinating your birds to be will help in preventing diseases and it will determine how long your rooster will live.
Laying hens are likely to suffer from reproductive tract problems. This happens because they lay many eggs during their life straining the reproductive tissues. Such illnesses are egg binding and cancer.
Chickens also get affected by stress just like we humans. This denies them peace leading to psychological issues and lowering their life expectancy.
Some people abuse roosters by triggering them to fight and in return, their masters earn a fee. This leads to bruises, scars and wounds that are very painful. This tops up the list of those factors that can cause stress in chickens.
Too much noise, congestion and fighting among themselves can be causes of stress in chickens. Laying hens are known to be affected by loud noises that affect their laying pattern in a great way.
On the other hand, meat birds or broilers when suddenly frightened are known to get heart attack and even die. Congestion will make your birds uncomfortable as they will compete for food, water and roost bars.
Chaos easily breaks out leading to fights especially when there is more than one rooster in a coop. Those who cannot defend themselves became victims and are oppressed by dominant ones.
Fights are sometimes triggered by the desire to mate especially when the number of roosters surpasses that of hens. The recommended male to female ratio is 1 male per 8 to 10 hens.
The weak gets stressed and are no longer able to feed well. They end up losing weight and even die. All these can lead to early deaths in chickens.
Advantages of keeping roosters
Although some hatcheries will kill male birds immediately after hatching, there are people who prefer to have them. Here are some of the pros of owning one.
- Roosters will mate with hens and lay fertilized eggs. These are eggs good to hatch as they will produce chicks.
- When hens are raised together with cocks, they enjoy protection from males. Roosters are very alert and will always be on the lookout for any potential threat.
- Cocks when slaughtered provide an excellent source of meat. They are can offer much meat than the girls because they are much heavier.
- Male chickens look for insects, worms and other treats for the ladies. As they do this, they help to feed the flock by supplementing their diets with the backyard treats.
- They help enrich your vegetable garden by providing manure. Chicken manure is very rich in nitrogen.
- Roosters help add color to your backyard with their plumage that is sometimes a mixture of several shades. Take a case of black and white chickens or yellow chicken breeds. The crow by roosters is entertaining to listen.
Disadvantages of rearing roosters
As there are advantages, there are some disadvantages too. These are some of those things that will make you decide to do away with them or not keep them at all.
- Some roosters are can be very aggressive. They are very territorial and will attack anyone who gets along their way. Such birds are not goods to keep when you have children.
- There are certain breeds like cochins that take too long to mature. Such birds will make one incur a lot of cost by feeding them. This will be a major loss to anyone who wants to keep them for meat.
- Roosters can be very noisy. They are not the best type to keep in an urban setting as they will disturb your neighbors with the early morning crow.
Signs of a rooster
When chicks are young it is not easy to tell the difference in gender. Although, modern technology has led to development of sex linked breeds like the Black star.
There are certain methods used to tell the sex of young birds like vent sexing. Even with all these methods, achieving a 100% is not possible as mistakes are common.
The only accurate and most natural method is to let the chicks grow into maturity and their natural features will differentiate them.
Here are some of the signs that roosters displays:
- They have deep red combs and wattles that are bigger than those of hens. The combs are firm and upright with definite points. Wattles are long and hang loosely under the lower jaw.
- Mature males will often crow. This happens from early morning. In cockerels, they will try to crow but with a lighter voice than that of their fathers.
- They grow spurs on their legs and develop scaly feet. In cockerels the spurs seem to protrude out like horn buds or a pimple.
- Males will mate quite often with hens.
- If there are more than one male, fights are common as they try to win over females and have the mating right. There is often a dominant male that will always fight the others.
- In males, the feathers in the hackle, saddle and tail regions are long and with more sheen under the sun.
- Roosters are often large in size and heavy in weight than hens.
Raising chickens in the right way can guarantee long lifespan. Keeping a rooster for many years is good as it will serve you and live to see its generations.
Old chickens are a prestige of how well you have taken good care of them to live many years. They can also be taken to poultry shows and teach others how long they can survive when cared for.