A hen named Peanut, from Michigan, USA, is now confirmed to be the world’s oldest living chicken, over two decades after surviving a brush with death when she was abandoned by her mother.
Born in the spring of 2002, Peanut is at least 20 years 304 days old as of 1 March 2023.
She is a bantam breed of chicken - a Belgian d’Uccle/Nankin mix to be specific - raised from birth by Marsi Darwin, a retired librarian.
Bantams are smaller than standard-sized chickens, but are otherwise similar in most respects.
“Peanut is a doddering old lady now but she has had quite a life,” Marsi said.
“She has enjoyed vigorous good health all her life […] outliving many of her offspring as well as her parents and quite a few dogs, cats, and feathered friends.”
@guinnessworldrecords Oldest living chicken 🐔 Peanut - 20 years 304 days 🇺🇸 #chicken#pets#bantam#guinnessworldrecords♬ original sound - Guinness World Records
Peanut’s age has been verified by her vet, Dr Julia Parker, who first met Peanut in 2003 as a fully-grown adult hen.
Chicken lifespans vary widely, with the average being somewhere around 5-10 years. The oldest chicken ever, Muffy (USA, 1989 - 2012), was a Red Quill Muffed American Game who lived to the age of 23 years 152 days.
Before hatching, Peanut was abandoned by her mother, who left the nest with all her other chicks.
Marsi later discovered the cold egg and, assuming it had died, picked it up to throw into her pond.
However, at that moment she “heard it cheep.”
“I think Peanut had a strong survival instinct to ‘call’ to me,” Marsi said.
After being peeled out of her shell, Peanut instantly bonded to Marsi.
Peanut’s mother refused to accept the newborn chick, so for the first two years of her life, Peanut lived inside a parrot cage in Marsi’s dining room.
Peanut was eventually moved to an outside coop with the rest of Marsi’s flock, where she proceeded to live for a clucking long time.
Peanut laid eggs until she was eight years old, which is a year or two longer than average.
She hatched several nests of eggs during her lifetime, and has several grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Marsi’s coop.
“I’m sure she has outlived quite a few of her children,” Marsi said.
Peanut is now too old to breed, however, when she was young, she had a “favourite rooster” named Lance.
For the last few years, Marsi says Peanut has been “looked after” by a one-eyed rooster called Benny.
As a certified OAP (old-age poultry), Peanut now spends winters indoors again, where she shares a cage with her 15-year-old daughter Millie.
Her daily routine consists of a lot of sleeping and a lot of eating.
Peanut and Millie also enjoy watching TV together while sitting on Marsi’s lap. During summer, they enjoy sunbathing and “scratching around” in the dirt outdoors.
Marsi describes Peanut as “affectionate and feisty,” and says people are always amazed at her intelligence.
She always answers to her name and she “loves to be cuddled.” Peanut also enjoys perching on Marsi’s shoulder and nibbling her ear.
Marsi’s advice for raising a long-living chicken is to ensure they get enough exercise and get fed a healthy diet.
Marsi adds crushed vitamin D tablets to Peanut’s yoghurt and occasionally treats her to fresh fruit and vegetables.
She also ensures that fresh, clean water is always available to her chickens, with added apple cider vinegar to combat worms.
“Above all, shower them with love!”
As Peanut’s 21st birthday fast approaches, she can now look forward to celebrating it as the oldest verified chicken on Earth.
She can also look forward to plenty more cuddles from Marsi (and a few from rooster friend Benny!)
Congratulations Peanut, you are Officially Amazing!
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