How Long Does it Take for a Chicken to Grow to Eating Size

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Chickens will reach their typical eating size from 16 to 24 weeks, although every breed is different and so growth do rates vary. Some owners of free-range chickens will not slaughter their hens until 8 months old to improve their flavor and texture.

This comprehensive guide discusses different factors that influence a chicken’s growth.

The Chicken Growth Process

Different chicken breeds take different lengths of time to reach maturity, with those seeking a meat bird often choosing broilers. These chickens are bred for quick development and attain eating size between the ages of 7 and 9 weeks at a typical weight of about 4 pounds.

Some other chicken breeds that are ready to eat sooner include:

  • Cornish Game Hens: 5 weeks
  • Roasters: 12 weeks
  • Capons: 18 weeks

If you’re planning to start a chicken farm, it’s also important to understand the chicken life cycle.

A chicken’s life cycle typically involves the following three stages:

1. Egg Fertilization

After the mating process of the rooster and the hen, the hen is in a position to lay fertilized eggs. After mating, the egg formation process starts in the hen which typically takes around 25 hours. The hen lays eggs in a calm, comfortable place to lay 1 egg per day, and eventually around 12 eggs in a clutch.

2. Chick

Baby chickens should be kept in a brooder box for the first week or two and put on chick starter feed. The initial development stages in a chicken’s life are very important because they help make them healthy.

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Six to eight-day-old chicks lose their down during the first mini molt. They then start growing their first feathers, combs and wattles at 3 to 6 weeks of age and will then be called a pullet (teenage hen) or cockerel (teenage rooster).

3. Chicken

At around 16 to 24 weeks of age, the pullets graduate into laying hens and are ready for slaughter if desired. This also marks the beginning of the egg-laying cycle, but it can depend on the breed.

If you’re seeking meat + egg chickens, then healthy egg layers will lay eggs until they reach around 2 years old and can then be slaughtered. However, a small number of breeds such as the deathlayer will lay for life.

Slow Growing Chickens

Most laying hens grow and put on weight at a moderate pace, but some grow slowly which are typically heritage chicken breeds. Brahmas and Black Silkies are not suitable for eating because they take long to grow to their full size and can be expensive to buy and feed.

One slow-growing breed of chicken that is still great for meat production is the Jersey Giant. Although this breed is slow growing (6 months), its carcass size more than makes up for it.

Factors That Impact Chicken Growth Rates

There are several factors that influence how long chickens takes to grow.

Type of breed

Chickens like the Cornish Cross can reach maturity age in just seven weeks. On the contrary, Jersey Giant chickens are larger than broilers and take 18 months to attain their full size.

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Studies have shown that chickens kept at a low temperature require more feed so they ultimately grow faster. A heat lamp can be helpful to increase growth rates during the cooler months.

Coop Management

Your chickens need space and comfort to maintain optimal growth and good health, with overcrowding often leading to infectious diseases. Additionally, chickens need enough feed and water to prevent the more aggressive birds from pecking those low in the pecking order

Patrick Anampiu

Patrick is an avid pet lover and passionate writer who enjoys crafting stories and feels most alive when telling stories about people whose lives have been enriched by their pets. He enjoys adding more chickens to his flock and loves sharing insights on how to take better care of pets and other animals in our lives. When not writing and raising chickens, Patrick enjoys traveling and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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