Chicken are probably the livestock most frequently slaughtered by humans worldwide: an estimated 45 billion chickens are killed for chicken meat every year. On average, every German eats about 12 kilograms of chicken meat per year.
The ancestor of our domestic chicken is a wild chicken with the name bankiva chicken, which originated in Southeast Asia. It was domesticated around 8,000 years ago. The wild form of our domestic chicken can, on average, ten years to become old.
It is assumed that if kept well, a chicken can even grow up to 15 years can live. The world’s oldest chicken has turned 22, according to some press reports. Although there are always rumors about chickens that are said to have reached an unbelievable age of 20 years and more, it is difficult to verify how much of this is true and what belongs in the realm of fairy tales.
The fact is, however, that in intensive livestock farming, chickens are among the livestock with the shortest lifespans of all. A laying hen is allowed to be the oldest – she lives about 20 monthsi.e. round 1.5 years. A broiler chicken, on the other hand, reaches its slaughter weight after 40 days. Therefore, broilers do not even become 1.5 months old.
The fate of male chicks is particularly sad: they grow old one day killed as industry has no use for them. They do not lay eggs and yield much less meat than a broiler, making them uneconomical to raise. From an animal welfare point of view, the fate of day-old chicks is one of the biggest problems in poultry farming.