Peanut: Meet world’s oldest living chicken hatched in 2002, abandoned at birth

Peanut: Meet world's oldest living chicken
Peanut, a bantam chicken from Michigan, USA, has recently been confirmed as the oldest living chicken in the world.

She has survived a traumatic experience after being abandoned by her mother.

Born in the spring of 2002, Peanut is at least 20 years and 304 days old as of March 1, 2023.

She is a Belgian d’Uccle/Nankin mix. She was raised from birth by Marsi Darwin, a retired librarian.

“Peanut is a doddering old lady now but has had quite a life,” Marsi said.

Despite being smaller than standard-sized chickens, bantams are similar to them in most respects.

Her age has been authenticated by her veterinarian, Dr Julia Parker, who first met Peanut in 2003 when she was a full-grown adult hen.

The lifespan of chickens varies significantly, with most living for an average of 5-10 years. Muffy, a Red Quill Muffed American Game, holds the record for the oldest chicken ever, living until the age of 23 years and 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 picked it up to throw into her pond, assuming it had died. 

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However, at that moment she “heard it cheep.”

“I think Peanut had a strong survival instinct to ‘call’ to me,” Marsi said.

Peanut as a chick in 2002.

After being peeled out of her shell, the chick instantly bonded to Marsi.

Her mother refused to accept the newborn chick, so Peanut lived inside a parrot cage in Marsi’s dining room for the first two years of her life.

She was eventually moved to an outside coop with the rest of Marsi’s flock, where she lived for a long time.

She 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.

Marsi says Peanut has been “looked after” by a one-eyed rooster called Benny for the last few years.

As a certified OAP (old-age poultry), the record holder now spends winters indoors again, sharing 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 her 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.” She 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.

“And above all, shower them with love,” she adds.

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!)

Peanut and benny
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Joshua Kalata

Joshua Kalata

Actuary and Blogger

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