If you’re looking into adding a rooster to your flock, you’re probably filled to the brim with questions.
One of those questions is likely the average lifespan of a rooster.
The answer depends on a couple of factors you’ll want to become familiar with before going out and buying a rooster.
If you’re looking to add or have recently added a rooster, we’ll tell you how to assess their current age and provide everything your rooster needs to live as long as possible.
The average rooster lives between 5-8 years. Factors like environment, predators, competition, food, and stress impact the overall health and longevity of a rooster’s lifespan. Genetics also dictate lifespan, and some rooster breeds live longer than others.
If you are new to keeping roosters or interested in learning more, we have the information you’ll need for determining a rooster’s lifespan.
We’ll also go over significant landmarks in a rooster’s life and how to extend their life with quality care.
How Long Does A Rooster Typically Live?
Roosters typically live for 5-8 years on average. Some roosters are recorded to have lived to the ripe age of 15 years old, but this is rare. Age is predominantly determined by genetics, but other factors within your control are known to help increase the lifespan of roosters and chickens alike.
Everything on this earth has an expiration date, and roosters are no different.
It is helpful to know the average lifespan of your rooster as it helps you plan for the future.
Roosters also have different activity levels, which is essential to consider if you are looking to breed chicks.
Since roosters play a valuable role in protecting the rest of the flock and fertilizing eggs for raising chicks, it is beneficial to know how long they will be around to perform their duties.
Different periods of the rooster’s life carry different levels of activity.
Young roosters who have not yet reached maturity are less active than those in their prime.
Older roosters also tend to become lax with their duties as they age.
Breeds play an essential factor as well in their lifespan.
In general, hybrid breeds tend to age and die more quickly than heritage variety.
We’ll get to those helpful hints and tips later on, but first, let’s understand more about how roosters age.
How Long Do Roosters Live As Pets?
Limiting their stressors and vulnerabilities puts them in the older range of the average rooster’s lifespan, which is 5-8 years for most breeds. Pet roosters tend to experience less stress as they trade the burdens of dominant flock leaders for a life of being fluffy companions.
Predators are one of the most common factors for young deaths in roosters and backyard chickens.
When roosters and chickens roam free, they are more susceptible to attacks from predators.
They are also more vulnerable to the elements and harsh conditions of the outdoors.
Because indoor pet chickens do not face these difficulties, they will likely live longer than backyard chickens out in the coop or roaming free in large areas.
Being a lead rooster outside with the flock puts a lot of stress on the animal.
It is not uncommon for roosters to drop dead from heart attacks due to the stressful nature of their duties.
Stress comes from being on constant guard for predators, mating, competition, and looking after all the other members of its flock.
The head rooster’s main jobs are to mate with chickens and ensure protection for the flock, and it causes them quite a bit of stress.
Are Roosters Good Pets?
Contrary to their aggressive and loud reputations, roosters make fantastic pets. We recommend raising the roosters as pets from the chick stage as older roosters tend to be more rigid in their dominant and protective habits, making it much more difficult to transition them into pets.
Regular handling of the roosters from a young age fosters a more docile disposition.
We recommend keeping your young rooster away from hens to prohibit protective and potentially aggressive behaviors.
It is also highly unwise to “play fight” with young roosters, even if it is adorable.
Even play fighting triggers undesirable behaviors like dominance and aggression.
How Can You Tell How Old A Rooster Is?
Identifying a rooster’s age is not an exact science, but there are some helpful ways of determining the approximate age of your rooster. Sure tell-tale signs indicate the general phase of life, including the rooster’s legs, wattle and comb, spurs, and feathers.
It’s especially helpful to know a rooster’s age if you consider adding a grown rooster to your flock for mating purposes.
Check The Roosters Legs
One way to estimate a rooster’s age is by looking at their legs.
Young rooster legs are smooth and evenly toned.
They also have small or no spurs on the legs.
With age, a rooster’s legs become more scaly and rough.
Spurs develop as the rooster matures.
The spurs often look worn down by age and curve as time goes on.
If a rooster has curved and worn-down spurs, it is safe to assume the rooster is at least at an age where he has reached maturity for mating.
Check The Wattle And Comb
The wattle and comb are part of the iconic image of the farmhouse rooster.
The comb is the red crest growing from the top of the rooster’s head.
Wattles have a similar attribute growing underneath the beak.
These attributes serve to indicate the age and overall health of a rooster or chicken.
Fights, frostbite, and age wear down the comb and wattle.
It is a quick way to assess the overall age and health.
Young roosters tend to have brighter, fuller combs and wattles.
Check For Spurs
The rooster spur is a gnarly talon primarily used for fighting.
Spurs tend to develop as the rooster reaches maturity and grows and hardens as they age.
If the rooster has small or straight spurs, they are likely still relatively young.
Curved and worn-down spurs indicate advanced age.
Check The Feathers
Another way to assess the age of a rooster is by inspecting the feathers.
Chickens and roosters go through molting.
Molting is the shedding and regrowth of feathers.
Most chickens begin molting around 12-18 months of age.
When the process starts, chickens lose their old feathers to make new ones.
The new feathers are shiny and fresh-looking.
When a chicken ages, the difference in luster and shine is apparent in its feathers.
While molting is an annual occurrence even for older roosters, you’ll start to notice the difference in vibrancy and shine as they age.
Factors That Affect A Rooster’s Lifespan
If you are looking to get the most years possible for your rooster, you’ll want to consider some major factors contributing to early mortality. The most important ones are the environmental conditions, quality of food, stress, and competition in the flock, breed, and overall genetics.
Some of these are in our control, but we recommend making sure you have considered all these elements before incorporating a rooster into your flock.
Environmental Conditions And Predators
Environmental stressors and predators make roosters more vulnerable to premature aging.
Roosters tend to fall victim to the stress of mating and protecting their flock.
There are many instances of roosters dropping dead from attacks due to stress.
Part of this stress comes from being constantly on guard for predators.
If you’re located in an area with lots of predators around, you’ll rooster will suffer from more stress.
One way to prohibit predators and limit environmental stressors is to limit free-roaming in vulnerable areas and build predator-proof coops and areas for the flock to safely roam.
Quality Of Food
Many chickens and roosters suffer from malnutrition from poor quality chicken feed.
Ensure your feed contains the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health and a well-balanced diet.
Grit is also a very important part of a chicken’s diet.
The grit helps to aid the digestive system, which is why you’ll often find your flock pecking around for sand and dirt.
Crushed oyster shells make a fantastic grit to incorporate into your chickens’ meals.
Stress And Competition
Another major source of added stress for roosters comes through competition.
If your ratio of roosters to hens is not adequate, your roosters may feel more competitive and aggressive with each other as they assert dominance.
We recommend having a ratio of about 8-10 hens per ratio.
If there are too many hens per rooster, the rooster may wear out with all the hens.
If there are too few hens per rooster, the rooster may wear the hens out with too frequent mating.
Multiple roosters also tend to assert dominance and start fights.
This behavior is not conducive to reducing stress or the potential for injury.
Breed And Genetics
One factor contributing to the lifespan of a rooster is breeds and genetics.
This factor is not one under our control, but researching breeds and genetics help to determine the lifespan of roosters before you introduce them to your flock.
If you are purchasing your rooster from a reputable breeder, we recommend asking the breeders about the lifespan of the rooster’s parents and siblings.
There are some breeds known for living longer than others:
- Plymouth Rock Chickens: 10-12 years
- Bantam Breeds: 10+ years
- Rhode Island Reds: 8+ years
Hybrid breeds tend to have the shortest lifespan among chicken breeds.
Heritage breeds tend to live longer due to the less common or severe hereditary conditions.
Breeds with the lowest life expectancy include:
- Cornish Cross Hybrids: 1 year
- Jersey Giant Heritage: 5-6 years
- Golden Comet Hybrids: 4-5 years
We recommend researching the chicken breeds available near you to become familiar with the average life expectancy.
When Are Roosters Fully Grown?
A rooster is fully grown once it reaches maturity. Maturity indicates a rooster is ready to mate. Most breeds, especially heritage breeds, tend to reach maturity around 24 weeks. Between 20-25 weeks, a rooster reaches their full-grown size, but some filling out occurs in the following weeks.
This is usually when the rooster’s comb and wattle become fully formed and prominent.
There are some exceptions to this timeline.
Hybrids tend to grow much faster due to their shorter life expectancy.
Some larger breeds like the Jersey Giant take up to a full year before reaching their full-grown size.
Most chicken keepers like to wait a full year before introducing the rooster to the hens for mating purposes.
At What Age Do Roosters Grow Spurs?
Roosters begin to grow spurs around 16 weeks. Spurs are the intimidating talons protruding from the rooster’s legs. They are filled with keratin and are perfect tools for fighting each other and any threat coming their way.
This timetable varies between breeds, but for the most part, you’ll start to see them forming around this time.
Spurs continue to grow throughout the rooster’s life.
They tend to curve and look more worn down as the rooster grows older.
Spurs also have rings on them useful in assessing the approximate age of the rooster.
The more rings on the spurs dictate the relative age.
At What Age Do Roosters Begin To Fight?
Often you’ll find younger roosters fighting for practice and play, but you won’t see full-blown fights for dominance until roosters reach 6 to 9 months of age. Fighting is an important part of establishing dominance and maintaining the flock’s pecking order.
Seasoned backyard chicken owners are no stranger to the sometimes malicious fights among roosters.
Some young roosters tend to spar, but it is not the same vein of fighting carried out by older roosters.
The pecking order is an important part of the flock as it dictates the head rooster.
Since the head rooster is responsible for standing guard for predators and ensuring the flock’s safety, roosters need to establish their hierarchy through fighting.
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