They say the average life span of a chicken is 5-7 years. Well, except, that is, for the one on your dinner plate.
Which is why a little white hen made the news this summer. UPC (United Poultry Concerns) reported the story as told by chicken hero Kathy O’Hara. Ms. O’Hara and her husband were driving across Virginia’s 23-mile-long Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge when they spotted, of all things, a chicken alongside the road. They doubled back, and several U-turns later, plucked the bird from the roadside. It is surmised that the hen fell off a truck filled with chickens on their way to becoming cacciatore and that she had stood on the road, cars whizzing past, for at least a few hours. When O’Hara realized that the chicken had cheated death twice in one day, she decided to name the hen “Reva the Revenant”.
Here’s the just-rescued Reva:
In another stroke of cluck, the UPC advocacy sanctuary turned out to be just up the road a piece. The O’Hara’s delivered Reva to the sanctuary, where she struggled for a few weeks and was thought to be near death a few times. However, she made an astonishing recovery after a course of anti-inflammatories and is now thriving:
Far less newsworthy, but just as much cause for celebration to me, is the fact that our little Belgian Mille Fleur D’Uccle, Pippa, turned five this summer. Of the fifteen hens that have made up our little flock over the past seven years, Pippa is the first to achieve that “average” milestone.
Four of our girls were lost to predators, but six others have perished far before their time due to internal laying, ovarian cancer and “unknown causes”. I wonder if we’ve just been unlucky or if, perhaps, the average lifespan has changed over time with breeding standards that favor egg production over longevity. By the way, in case you’re wondering, the longest-lived chicken on record was a sixteen-year-old Old English game hen named “Matilda”. Her accomplishment is thought to be due in part to the fact that she never laid eggs.
Pippa stopped laying her tiny bantam eggs a few years back and now spends her days bullying Ava, Bella and Nugget, who are thrice her size but overly respectful of Pippa’s seniority in the pecking order. She may be no spring chicken, but she’s definitely queen of our coop. Long may she reign!