You’ve probably been woken up unintentionally several times because of your neighbor’s rooster. With your instant alarm clock, have you ever wondered if it’s the same rooster doing it daily? And if it is, how long do roosters live that they have been able to wake you up for years?
What is the life expectancy of a rooster?
Just like any creature on Earth, roosters can’t live forever. They can, however, live for up to eight years or even longer, depending on some factors or circumstances. Take the case of the world’s oldest chicken. These chickens lived for more than 15 years.
It could be challenging when pointing out how long a rooster has lived. There is no exact formula to determine how old a rooster is or how long it has been around.
If you happen to have only a couple of roosters in your flock, then perhaps there is a way for you to keep track of those that come and go and how old these chickens are. But if it’s a flock that is home to many roosters, that can be a difficult thing to do.
While this is not foolproof, there might (actually) be some hints or signs you can consider. If you want to estimate how long a rooster has lived, perhaps, you can check some changes in its physical characteristics or attributes.
Take a look at their feathers
Molting is a natural occurrence in chickens, including roosters. It is the period when chickens lose their old feathers and start growing new ones. A rooster starts molting at around 12-18 months. When the rooster is young and healthy, this becomes an annual occurrence. Molting still occurs in older roosters though there might be some changes that you would notice.
A young rooster’s feathers are more vivid and vibrant. But as it grows older, it loses that vibrancy and luster. If you see an aging rooster, you can probably observe how some of its feathers are paler than the new growth. There is a fading compared to the fresh feathers that they would usually get when they are molting.
Peek at their chicken legs
You can tell how old a rooster is by looking at its legs. When they are younger, the legs are smoother, and the colors are even. As they age, you will see some changes. The roosters start developing their spurs. When the roosters start maturing, you can see the chicken spur—forming on the inside of their legs.
A rooster’s spurs develop from keratin. And as the animal ages, they grow and harden over time. You would also see that the rooster spurs curve more. Apart from the more obvious physical changes, you can also look at the growth ring found on the spurs.
While they might not give you the exact age, given that there is no correlation between the growth rings and how old a fowl is, it would still give you an idea if the rooster has already matured or not.
Check the comb and wattle
If you take a good hard look at a rooster, you would see something red on top of its head and at the bottom of its chin. They call it the comb and wattle, respectively. These help with the chicken’s blood flow and the heat.
When a rooster’s comb and wattle start to show, it indicates that they are now sexually mature. A healthy rooster usually has a shiny and bright-colored comb and wattle. Any paleness to it could suggest a disease or an infection.
When the rooster matures, the comb and wattle might start drooping. It’s one of those signs that you have got a mature rooster in your midst.
What Rooster Breeds Live The Longest?
Let’s say you want to keep roosters as a pet. With an average lifespan of 5-8 years, it is seemingly short to enjoy with your feathered friend. So here are the top breeds with the most extended lifespan:
|Old English Game Fowl Rooster||15 years or more|
|Plymouth Rock Rooster||10 to 12 years|
|All types of Bantam Roosters||Greater than 10 years|
|Rhode Island Red Rooster||Greater than 8 years|
|All kinds of Orpington Roosters||Greater than 8 years|
Conversely, you may want to skip on the cornish cross and golden comet (both hybrid), and jersey giant (heritage). All of these, have an average life span of 1 to 6 years only.
How Can You Make Your Rooster Live Longer?
Whether you’re taking care of a rooster as a pet or as part of a flock, you want to ensure that they live a long and good life. If you love to see them live as long as possible, perhaps you need to consider these factors.
The Food The Roosters Eat
Diet plays a crucial part in securing that roosters live for as long as possible. For roosters to grow healthy and well, they need a well-balanced diet. You can’t just feed them with whatever food you have.
If you leave your roosters out and alone, they probably can’t help but feed on small creatures they find on the ground. While this is okay, it won’t give them the nutritional needs their bodies require.
When it comes to their diet, there are a few things you need to consider. While it might sound like preparing and feeding roosters healthy meals is expensive, the truth is that it actually isn’t!
Roosters Eat Both Plants and Animals
The good news is that roosters aren’t picky eaters. They can eat both plants and animals. With these types of food and some supplements combined, your rooster can have a well-balanced diet that gives them the vitamins and minerals that their bodies need.
Roosters need the right vitamins and minerals because once they lack one or more, it can affect their physical well-being and performance. There needs to be a balance between fat-soluble, water-soluble, and minerals so that they would be able to live a healthy and productive life.
You should also note that too much of something is terrible for your rooster. Consider what types of food will work best for the roosters.
If your roosters aren’t free to roam around an open space, you might also want to throw grit in the mix. It helps them with digestion, given they do not have teeth. If you have free-range roosters, they can find gravel and sand independently. It’s in their nature to do something like that. So if you see them pecking at something from the ground, they are most likely looking for grit.
Like humans, a rooster’s lifestyle can affect their life expectancy and mortality. Take stress, for example. It can affect the rooster’s well-being, especially if it’s cooped up with many other flock members.
When the rooster is distressed, it can affect its physical, psychological, physiological, and social conditions. When the rooster is unhappy, it can reflect in their day-to-day life. Don’t be surprised if your rooster is not as proactive or energetic as before.
If the rooster lives a stressful and taxing life, it might not be able to live as long as you want them to. It’s ideal for roosters to roam as freely as they can—so as not to put them under so much pressure.
What Surrounds Roosters
The environment that surrounds a rooster can also affect them. Whether the rooster is wandering free in your backyard or inside a coop, it should feel as comfortable as possible.
As the weather can be pretty unpredictable, you need to be ready at all times. Chickens generally can’t sweat, so they might feel uncomfortable when the weather is too hot.
They must be hydrated, or else; they might get heat stroke or heat exhaustion. When something like this happens, it can physically harm the roosters. It can sometimes lead to death, cutting short their life expectancy.
Apart from the weather elements, be wary of predators looming around. While the roosters can defend themselves, it’s not always the case, especially when the predators are big.
As the owner, it is your obligation that they are always protected. If your roosters are in a massive outdoor space, you can try putting up thick hedges or shrubs to keep predators away.
Since roosters crow at certain times of the day, it is easier for predators to track them. So you must be able to create safety barriers that would keep them away from potential attackers.
Look into the Rooster’s Gene Pool
How long a rooster lives also depends on its overall health. There are cases when a rooster looks pretty healthy at birth but grows up with health issues that affect their quality of life.
If you are planning on owning roosters, then you should take a good look at their gene pool. Perhaps you can check how long its parents or siblings lived and if they had any health issues. It’ll give you an idea if the rooster you want to take home might encounter possible health hazards.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do Roosters make good pets?
Roosters are protective yet empathic to their flock and owner. It’s like having a bodyguard roaming around 24/7 in your backyard. They also help fertilize eggs if you want to raise baby chicks as an addition.
Their list of attributes as a pet could go on, but of course, there is also a downside to it. Be prepared for the daily crowing, and if it’s none negotiable, you may want to rethink your decision.
2. What is the longest-living rooster?
Though there is no official record, many say that Bob Ross is the oldest-living rooster in the world. He is a white-crested Polish show rooster with no vision. Butch Anthony, the owner of Bob, stated that the rooster died at 20.
On the other hand, Muffy is considered the oldest chicken in the world. She died at the age of 22 in 2011, according to the Guinness site.
3. Do roosters remember their owner during their lifetime?
Based on a recent study, chickens do remember their owner. They associate it with food, safety, and even companionship. If you treat them poorly, they’ll most likely remember it. So be kind to your flock if you don’t want them acting mean to you.
A Rooster Deserves A Good Long Life
A rooster deserves to live a good and long life, whether kept as a pet or as the king of your coop. How long roosters live depends on many factors, and you need to consider all these:
- The food they eat
- A balanced diet
- The flock’s environment
- Roosters’ gene pool
While it might not be a walk in the park, at the end of the day, your roosters deserve all that because they contribute to your flock.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.