Chickens are probably the most common livestock slaughtered by humans in the world: an estimated 45 billion chickens are killed for chicken meat each year. Every German eats an average of around 12 kilograms of chicken per year.
The ancestor of our domestic chicken is a wild chicken called the Red junglefowl, which originated in Southeast Asia. It was domesticated around 8,000 years ago. The wild form of our domestic chicken can live around ten years on average.
It is assumed that a domestic chicken can live up to 15 years if it is well kept. The oldest chicken in the world was 22 years old according to some news reports. Although there are always rumours about chickens that are said to have reached the amazing age of 20 and more years - how much of it corresponds to the truth and what belongs in the realm of fairy tales is difficult to verify.
In contrast, the fact is that in intensive animal husbandry, chickens are among the farm animals with the shortest lifespan of all. A laying hen is allowed to live the longest – it lives around 20 months, i.e., around 1.5 years. A broiler chicken, on the other hand, reaches its slaughter weight after 40 days. Broiler chickens are therefore not even 1.5 months old when they're slaughtered for meat.
The fate of male chicks is particularly sad: they are killed at the age of one day because the industry has no use for them. They do not lay eggs and produce much less meat than a broiler, so raising them is uneconomical. The fate of day-old chicks is one of the greatest problems in poultry farming from an animal welfare point of view.