If you’re planning to start a backyard chicken farm, then you need to start by understanding the different types of chicken breeds that are available, the cost of building a coop, and the specifications of each breed such as productivity, expenses, growth, and lifespan. Speaking of lifespan, you need to ask yourself one important question—how long do roosters live? At least this way, you’ll manage to get the best breed of roosters that will last long.
Now, it’s quite rare to find a flock that consists of roosters only. In fact, most poultry farmers prefer egg-laying hens to enjoy their egg production. But, that doesn’t mean that roosters are useless. Actually, roosters play a major role in any flock as they act as the head and the protector of the flock.
Therefore, understanding how long they live is essential for you to plan their feeding program. Now, on average, roosters have a life expectancy of 5 – 8 years. This period can increase or lower depending on various factors such as the environment, the level of freedom, and the quality of food they’re given. That said, this guide will discuss the average life expectancy of a rooster and what factors affect their longevity.
Understanding a Rooster
As chicken keepers, we usually fail to understand the demands and nature of roosters and instead perceive them as stubborn. Roosters are intelligent creatures that act as providers and protectors of the flock. Their role in a flock is demonstrated by their selflessness and willingness to disregard their own safety in favor of protecting the flock.
This courageous and admirable quality of the rooster is usually misunderstood as aggression. So, instead of seeing the protective side of the rooster, most people scold them and assume they’re aggressive and dangerous.
Sometimes, a rooster’s aggressive behavior can be unpredictable due to fluctuations in its hormones. For instance, the testosterone level of a rooster is highest in the morning and evening making the chicken aggressive during these times of the day. It’s also highest during puberty when a cockerel is around 3 – 4 months or throughout until it’s a year old. So, as an enthusiast keeper, understanding a rooster’s behavior based on its hormones is very important.
What Do You Know About the Average Lifespan of a Rooster
Now, in the wild, roosters can live for up to 5 years. Since they have protective instincts by nature, they’re always in a state of being alert and watching out for potential predators. However, when they’re in confinement, roosters are usually less stressed as they rely on their caretakers to offer protection.
This environmental advantage allows roosters to stay longer for up to 8 years. In fact, roosters can live for an additional 2 years making it 10 with the right diet and proper care.
Now, how do you determine the average lifespan of a rooster? Well, this is quite challenging, especially if you have a backyard flock that you’ve raised since they were chicks. Unless you’ve kept a record of when the chicks hatched, determining their average lifespan can be quite hard.
However, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. In most cases, there are creative ways you can determine the age of your roosters, which is by checking changes in their physical characteristics.
Estimating a Rooster Lifespan by Checking Feathers, Legs, and Comb
Checking Comb and Wattle
The comb and wattles of a rooster can clearly tell a lot about their age. However, you need to be attentive for you to understand. First, if you notice your cockerels have developed shiny and brightly colored comb and wattles, then that’s a clear sign they’re sexually mature.
If the tips of the comb drop, that’s another sign your rooster is mature and is now beginning to age. If you notice fresh scars on the comb, that’s a sign your rooster is young and at the bottom of the pecking order.
You all know that chickens molt their feathers annually. This molting of feathers allows them to regrow new feathers that appear shiny and vivid. Now, roosters don’t usually molt all their feathers. In most cases, some feathers are left intact, which when looked at closely, appear scruffy, old, and pale.
As your rooster continues to age, the feathers lose their natural vibrancy and luster appearing dull. This fading of the feathers is one way you can guess or rather tell the age of your rooster.
Now, if you touch an infant’s feet, they will appear smooth and good-looking. This is exactly how a chick’s feet look. They appear smooth with minimal scars. They also have small bumps behind their shanks.
But, as the cockerel grows to become a rooster, various changes in their feet become noticeable such as scars, worn-out feet, and overgrown spurs. In fact, the spurs become dangerous looking as the rooster ages. This happens naturally as spurs allow roosters to defend themselves or fight predators when protecting the flock.
Some people even mention that roosters develop noticeable rings on their feet that can be counted. Counting these rings gives you a clue about their age.
But, besides large fowl roosters, farmers who raise bantams usually ask how long bantam roosters live. Now, bantam roosters have almost the same lifespan as their large fowl varieties. However, their lifespan can be a little bit shorter due to the small sizes that make them easy targets to predators. However, with proper care from their caretakers, bantam roosters can live upwards of 8 years.
Doing Things That Prolong a Rooster’s Lifespan
The first thing you should do to prolong the life of your rooster is to feed him a healthy balanced diet of good nutrition. Such a diet consists of a high-quality poultry pellet feed accompanied by fruits, vegetables, herbs, insects, and table scraps. Such a diet provides your rooster with essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that will help sustain his health for a long time.
But, other than prolonging their lifespan, a healthy balanced diet gives your rooster more weight. This is a huge plus if you’re raising your flock for meat production.
2. Proper Housing
The living conditions of your flock can easily tell how long they’ll last. If your roosters are confined in a tiny overcrowded space, then they’re likely to get stressed. The worst part comes when their habitat is dirty and ammonia filled.
A dirty coop will bring health issues such as upper respiratory problems that can slice the lifespan of your rooster. Also, if the coop is not well secured, then there are chances of predators breaking in and attacking your roosters.
So, to prolong the lifespan of your roosters, you need to start by having a clean draught-free coop that’s well sealed to secure the flock against predator attacks. It should also be well-ventilated to avoid the build-up of bacteria.
3. Environmental Conditions
The best thing about chickens is that most are hardy and adapt well to various environmental conditions. However, in case of inclement weather such as extreme heat, snow, wind, and pollution, your roosters can fail to tolerate such scorching conditions and die too early.
So, to avoid this, you should provide shelter to your flock where they can escape. A ventilated coop with fresh cool water and cool fruits will prevent your roosters from heatstroke caused by excess heat.
The same applies to extremely cold weather where an insulated coop fitted with heating apparatus will help to keep the roosters warm.
4. Good Healthcare
Feeding your rooster a balanced diet is easy. The same applies to building a nice shelter for them. However, protecting them against parasites and illness is sometimes beyond our capability. For instance, if your flock suffers from Marek’s disease, it’s easy for the entire flock to perish as this disease is considered lethal.
So, to prolong the lifespan of your roosters, you need to treat any illness as soon as it appears. You should also feed your flock with a balanced diet to boost their immunity. Lastly, some roosters might seem more prone to illness than others.
Such roosters should be isolated and given extra care/close watch to ensure they recover faster. Now, how long do roosters live in captivity? Well, the reason why I included this question is that most chicken keepers fear isolating their roosters fearing they might get too lonely.
If this is a concern for you, then you can isolate them in a meshed coop. This way, they will see other chickens and feel as though they’re part of the flock.
5. Keep Them Stress-Free
As you already know, roosters are territorial meaning they’ll go to any extent to protect their hens from predators and competitors. So, if you notice your roosters are stressed, then you should investigate what exactly might be stressing them.
Some of the possible causes of stress among your roosters include living in an overcrowded coop, being scared by predators, competition and insecurity from other roosters, and extreme bullying. So, to prevent this, you should provide enough space for your roosters and mind the ratio of roosters to hens. In most cases, you should keep one rooster in every ten hens.
6. Monitor Their Hereditary Conditions
Factors such as deformities and hereditary conditions can contribute to the overall lifespan of a rooster. If a rooster has a deformity, it’s likely to become an easy target to other roosters and predators as it’s less capable of defending itself. Such roosters demand special care from their keepers.
7. Treat Them Well
Lastly, you should treat your roosters well for them to last long. Although roosters are known to be aggressive, they’re social and friendly birds that enjoy human companionship. So, to keep them happy and strong, you have to handle them with extreme care. In such a situation, your rooster is likely to last for up to 8 or 10 years.
How Many Life Stages of a Rooster
The life cycle of a rooster consists of four main stages that are just intriguing. Everything starts from mating, which results in fertilized eggs. These eggs are incubated by a broody mother or an incubator for around 21 days to hatch.
Once they hatch the growing process begins from the chicks to the young cockerels then finally to the adults. So, let’s explore the four stages in detail below.
The first stage is called the embryonic stage. This is where a hen sits on a clutch of fertilized eggs to incubate them. This stage mostly takes 21 days after which a chick uses its egg tooth to crack the eggshell and break free.
Once the chicks are hatched, they’re usually under the care and protection of their mothers. After around 7 days, the chicks molt their fine down feathers and develop actual feathers. These feathers usually take around 8 weeks to fully develop.
At around 12 weeks, roosters are considered juveniles. Here, the young cockerels develop larger combs and wattles that make it easier for you to distinguish them from pullets.
Roosters attain the adult stage when they’re around 4 – 5 months. Some roosters can become adults earlier than others depending on the breed, feeding, and level of care. At this stage, roosters attain sexual maturity where they’re able to mate and produce sperms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What Season Does Rooster Die?
Environmental factors are some of the major concerns most poultry farmers have regarding their flock. If you’re asking what season roosters die, then it’s mostly during extreme weather conditions. Such conditions include storms, hurricanes, and extremely low or high temperatures. If you’re facing bad weather, then it’s always recommended that you transfer your flock to a safer place to avoid losing your roosters.
Q2. Do Roosters Die After Mating?
Actually yes. However, this mostly happens to very old roosters or roosters with health issues. You see, when mating, roosters use a lot of energy. Sometimes, the mating process can take up to 14 hours. If your rooster is too weak, it will feel exhausted and faint and if it has health issues, it can develop a heart attack or an immune system collapse, which can lead to death.
Q3. What Age Do Roosters Start Mating?
Now, roosters are considered to be sexually mature when they’re 4 months old. This is the time when they start producing sperms and start acting like adult roosters. Although they can mate at this stage, they’re usually inexperienced.
Q4. What Age Does a Rooster Crow?
Cockerels begin to crow when they’re 12 – 16 weeks old. This is usually one of the signs that your roosters are mature. Roosters crow throughout their lives. However, when they’re too old, they tend to calm down.
So, how long do roosters live in captivity? Well, this will depend on the level of care you give them. However, whether they’re confined or free-ranging birds, roosters can live for up to 12 or 15 years provided extreme care is observed.
Roosters require some freedom and a lot of space to quench their defensive and protective instincts. Having a few roosters in the flock is recommended to ensure they’re not stressed due to bullying and competition.
Lastly, roosters should be protected against predators. Remember, since they’re the trusted bodyguards to your flock, they can do anything in their power to protect the flock. This includes fighting to the death. With extreme care, this won’t be necessary meaning your roosters will last long.
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Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!