Roosters are just like any other creature or living thing on earth, eventually, their life will run their course. I know that I’ve found myself wondering how long a rooster’s lifespan is, especially when I have one shipped to me by accident with a group of chicks that were all meant to be hens. While they may not live quite as long, they are not too different from their female counterparts.
The average lifespan for a rooster is between 5 and 8 years of age, and they can live even longer if they lead a more sheltered life.
If you are looking into owning or already have a rooster running around on your property, then you surely have a few questions regarding how long you’ll be taking care of this cocky gentleman. Well, I’m here to answer some more commonly asked questions regarding roosters and how long you can expect them to be young and feisty.
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How Long Can A Rooster Live For?
On average, a rooster can live 5 to 8 years. However, there are always going to be several factors, environmental and dietary, that play into how long a rooster will live. Many roosters live for less than 8, but there are recordings of some living up to 15 years!
The type of chicken does somewhat affect the lifespan of the bird. For instance, a breed of chicken meant for meat purposes will typically live the shortest amount of time, while the egg layers or dual-purpose breeds have a longer life expectancy.
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What Affects A Rooster’s Lifespan?
Environmental factors that cause concerns among your flock and impact their lifespan are storms and bad weather, neighbor’s dogs barking and foxes prowling around the coop at night.
When you are raising chickens, there are always going to be things that happen that will affect your flock. Because of these risks, there is always that chance that one of your hens or roosters will fall ill, injured or just be plain stressed out.
Housing and Weather
The climate the rooster lives in, habitat conditions and the presence of predators are going to play a huge role in how long a rooster lives. The harsher the environment, the more likely they are to suffer injury, illness or death.
While chickens tend to adapt very well to different temperatures, extreme hot and cold climates are hard on most animals. Chickens also are unable to sweat, so they have a harder time staying cool in hotter areas. Some breeds of chickens are better suited to specific weather conditions than others.
Parts of the world that have more mild climates will probably have roosters that live longer and have fewer incidents of illness or weather-related injuries.
Your chicken coop’s condition is super important to the overall health of your birds. Hens and roosters need a clean and well-ventilated coop in order to keep them in good shape. An ammonia-filled coop with poor ventilation can cause major upper respiratory issues in chickens.
Predators are another large risk when it comes to raising chickens. They are pretty tasty after all, so it’s no surprise that plenty of wild animals will try their luck at killing one of your flock.
The roosters tend to be the protectors and will often die in the fight to save his ladies.
It shouldn’t be surprising that a rooster’s diet plays such a large role in their health and overall longevity. If you aren’t feeding your chooks a good and balanced diet with a high-quality pellet feed and occasional fruits and vegetables, then you can’t expect them to be as healthy as those that are being fed well.
Ensuring that your chickens are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals is crucial in their overall development and well-being.
Stress and Health
Stress can be detrimental to some, as it can affect the immune system and certainly affect how long they live. If you are worried that your rooster is stressed, you need only look at their surroundings and try to narrow down what could be bothering him.
Most of the time the same things that stress out hens will also stress out roosters. Such as overcrowding, bullying from other roosters, loud excessive noises, and of course, predators.
Another large stressor for roosters is when there is too much competition with other roosters for territory and hens for mating. It is not recommended that you have more than one rooster per 10 hens.
Health and genetics may be something that is out of your control for the most part. If you have a rooster that is just naturally prone to illness or other inherited conditions, then you may not have a lot you can do about it.
Do Roosters Live Longer Than Hens?
It is not unusual for the female of a species to generally live longer than the males. The same goes for chickens. The average lifespan for a female chicken is about 5 – 10 years, a rooster is closer to 8 years max on average.
However, there are always exceptions to this, as sometimes the incredible happens and you have a rooster that lives to be over 15 years old.
When Is A Rooster Fully Grown And Sexually Mature?
Most roosters are able to mate as early as 4 months old, however, they are still considered a cockerel until they are closer to a year of age. A cockerel is just a young rooster. An average-sized breed of rooster, not one that is a giant breed, will typically reach fully grown once they are around 6 months or 24 weeks of age.
As mentioned, a cockerel can technically mate with a hen as early as 4 months old, but they will most likely not have the best technique, nor fertility levels, but he will certainly try. In general, most farmers and backyard chicken raisers agree that a rooster is not fully mature until about a year of age.
Related article you should read: At What Age Is A Rooster Full-Grown? (Fertility, Crowing, etc.)
How Long Are Roosters Fertile?
Most of the time the average rooster will remain fertile until they are about 5 to 6 years old. Their fertility levels will begin to wane around that time and a higher incidence of chick mortality will be noticed eventually.
An aging rooster will also mate and crow less than the younger guys. Making his lack of libido somewhat obvious. However, there are several chicken raisers that say their old rooster kept fertilizing eggs far past the age of 6 years.
How Can You Tell How Old A Rooster Is?
Telling the age of a chicken can be particularly tricky, especially if they are young. There are a few telling signs though that can help you figure out the age of some chickens, such as the spurs on the legs, their feathers and the condition of their comb and face.
A young chicken should have smooth legs, with minimal scars and missing scales. A cockerel will have small spurs on the back of their heel that grow by the time they are about 3 to 4 months of age. As they get older, the spurs grow longer and much more dangerous-looking. A more mature rooster will have rings around the spur that can be counted (much like a tree!) to give you an idea of how many years old they are.
The condition of their feathers changes as they age. Young chickens have fluffier, newer-looking feathers, while an older bird will have some faded feathers and others that don’t look as nice and shiny. Sometimes a senior chicken will have some scruffy and, well, old-looking feathers as well.
Comb and Face
Chickens are territorial, especially roosters. They will fight with each other and peck at their combs and faces, leaving scars and knicks that can sometimes be telling of their age, maturity and pecking order.
Roosters – Vital To The Flock No Matter The Age
Roosters play a large role in a flock of chickens. While it is totally fine to have a flock of hens without a male running around, they can certainly bring plenty of enrichment, protection and lots of crowing to your daily routine.
Young roosters mate with and protect their hens as the more mature fellows find snacks and patrol the property, crowing and alerting everyone to any suspicious activities. Sometimes they just make noise to do it, even if there’s nothing going on. But that’s the fun of roosters.
Expect your flock’s rooster to live for 5 to 8 years. Even more, if you make sure that he lives a fairly secure and healthy lifestyle!
Related article: Roosters Crowing: Everything you Should Know