What’s their life expectancy?
Q Our rescued hybrids are proving wonderful pets and layers. In one book we’ve read, it’s written that hybrids ‘tend to be more disease resistant than pure breed chickens’. However, elsewhere, I saw someone saying that hybrids have a shorter lifespan than pure breeds. Could this be true? A Jeremy Hobson says: A recent piece I saw online stated that ‘whilst pure breeds tend to have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years, hybrids have a shorter lifespan (three or four years)’. Several other online bloggers’ also maintain that hybrids lay well, but ‘burn out’ quicker than do pure breeds. While there may be sensible reasoning behind this thinking (chickens bred for commercial purposes may well tend to ‘burn out’ more quickly than other types), I do, though, know of many people who have rescued hybrids in a back garden situation and they’ve lived as many years as pure breeds.
Interestingly, in the past, the bloodlines of pure-breeds were occasionally sacrificed in favour of a hybrid which would produce more eggs and/or put more meat on its breast. Between the two world wars, the Ministry of Agriculture (now DEFRA), set up a committee to investigate the situation – and subsequently reported that the biggest single reason why the efficiency of chicken production was in decline was due mainly to faulty breeding methods. In their opinion, too much emphasis was being placed on selecting for egg and table production and not enough on breeding for hardiness, vitality and health.