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Not knowing how far you are along in the book, I would encourage you that there will be an instance in which one animal gets very close to retirement and becomes injured. This is interesting because of the lack of ability to serve the final working months and watching how the leadership will deal with such a circumstance. It is not clarified how injury at a late stage is dealt with ever. So the animals then watch the circumstance that transpires and realize once again that things are really never what they thought they were going to be.
You can find the answer to this right at the beginning of Chapter 9. So if you need more details, look there.
The different animals had different ages when they would be allowed to retire. This depended on how long that particular kind of animal lived. So the geese, for example, could retire when they were 5. But the horses and pigs had to wait until they reached 12.
There were rumors about a part of a field being set aside for retired animals. And there were rumors about how much food they were going to get. But no one had actually reached retirement age yet so it was not clear as to what would actually happen.
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