Chicken Math – Blessing or Curse? July 25, 2014

Chicken math: it’s sort of an inside joke with chicken keepers. It goes something like this:You get approval from your significant other to get just a small flock–maybe five chickens, tops! How do you get to five?

Well, first you need two chocolate layers.

Black Copper Marans eggs

Marans eggs: because who doesn’t want eggs that looks so gorgeous?

Then you need two blue layersSo far so good.

CreamLegbar

A couple Cream Legbars should provide some lovely blue eggs.

But you notice that the almost-impossible-to-get olive eggers are available on your targeted hatch day, so you add one. Okay, and maybe a Favaucana just for a different shade of green. How many is that; it can’t be more than five, right?

Then, you remember that your  daughter needs a Silkie as her special pet lap chicken.

Little girl and juvenile silkie

Chicken Math means the silkie you get your daughter doesn’t count against your flock total.

And your son loves Big Bird, so you add a Polish for him.  If your daughter gets a special chicken, so should he, right? You’re just being fair.

Chicken math - adding Polish

In chicken math, 7 + 1 still equals 5, so long as you have a justification.

When you get your chicks–eight, not five (but who’s counting?)–you realize you’ve forgotten something. Your coop only holds five birds. So, your coop plans have to change. Instead of the small coop you planned for, you’ll have to build or buy one large enough to fit your flock of (eight), I mean five.

The coop you decide on can fit up to fifteen–perfect! There will be plenty of space. For your five, or eight… or whatever. In fact, you could add some more birds!

… so you get to thinking. (This is often dangerous when it comes to chickens.) The truth is that you had really wanted your flock to lay well in the winter, so you’ll have eggs year round. It seems silly to have chickens but maybe be short of eggs in the winter, and a few of your birds aren’t known for winter laying. You decide you should add an Orpington, definitely! They’re friendly, and pretty, and lay well in the winter. Plus you can get the pretty lavender color for your flock. That’s two birds with one stone, er–order—right?

However, to your joy—I mean, dismay—you realize that you do need to order at least five birds so they can safely be shipped. So you take TWO Orpingtons… and add a couple Speckled Sussex, just because it’s what your grandma used to keep. They lay well in winter, too! Also,  a Welsummer, for good measure… and a Silver Laced Wyandotte, because they’re so beautiful. 

Silver Laced Wyandotte hen

Chicken Math to the rescue… your coop has room!

Somehow, five chickens has turned into fourteen: that’s chicken math! It’s especially chicken math if—after all that—you’re still planning what breeds you’ll add for next year. After all, you have space for one more, which means you’ll have to order eight or so and expand the coop.

Please tell your story in the comments: how does chicken math work in your family?

 

 

34 Comments
Kathy W July 25th, 2014

We originally ordered four4 pullet chicks from our feed store. When I went to pick them up I overheard the workers there talking about how many people had not picked up their chicks. I asked what happened to the chicks that did not get picked up. They told me if no one took them they would die. I said I would take any leftover chicks. The next day I wound up picking up the last 8 babies. Now my 4 equaled 12. Not bad really. Your article left out an important, and sad, part of chicken math. Death. As an inexperienced chicken owner I made mistakes with those first chicks. A lot of mistakes. Over the first couple months I lost several of the chicks. This was so sad. I learned as I went and was doing well. I heard the neighbor was selling specialty chicks. I went up and fell in love with his Polish/Frizzle Polish chicks. I got 4 of those. I picked up a couple chicks at a swap meet. I was doing good. Then the horrible happened. My first “visit” from a neighbor’s dog. I lost all my chickens but 4. I was just devastated. I mourned. A lot. After a time I started building again. First the huge coop. It is 8ft x 16ft and the roof is 61/2ft at front and back with a 9ft peak. Of course it seemed SO empty. A few chickens here, a few chickens there, OH look she is setting eggs!, and “I really should buy and incubator” have all combined so my 4 chickens are now hovering around 100. My front room (adult flock) is fairly full and the back room (babies & pullets too young to be around randy roosters) has over 40 two and a half month old chicks in it. We also have a separate pen for my “retirees” – an old rooster who survived a dog attack but lost his confidence and became a bullying victim, a hen that was picked on by a bunch of randy young roosters to the point she was totally defeated, a hen that is perpetually in need of special care, and a young hen that just begged to be moved into that pen. Every chicken I own is named. Everyone is a special baby. Occasionally I get my heart broken by having to do the right thing for the flock and I have to move problem roosters to “the funny farm” (friend’s property where he lets a bunch of chickens run wild over 20 acres guarded by a herd of huge, overly protective dogs.) So here I sit with my 4(100-ish) chickens and am thinking of “next spring I should try breeding…” Yeah, chicken math is AWESOME-ly dangerous.

George Castonguay July 25th, 2014

My chicken math is adding five silkies last year and one bantam. ‘They are little so don’t take up much room and we could use a broody silkie or two if we want to raise some more chickens of our own. Wellllll, the silkies all turned out to be boy silkies not noted for their broodiness and the little bantam, the only true ‘little’ chicken of the bunch was a girl but got picked on unmercifully but seven roosters total! For me it seems that added chickens means added roosters.

Michelle July 25th, 2014

We started with 3. I had almost finished building a much bigger coop when we lost one. Since we have the larger coop already, we figured a couple more next spring will be just right. 3-1+6 = 3, right?

Stacy July 25th, 2014

One hundred and thirty one. And I hardly even eat eggs.

Jennifer July 25th, 2014

My chicken math went from six to almost thirty in one spring! I wanted a couple of Orps and a couple of Americaunas. Of course I got suckered by my girls into Silkies. Then every time I went to the feed store they had different breeds! How dare they!? So we now have Frizzles, Silkies, New Hampshires, Barred Rocks, Americaunas, Wyandottes, Speckled Sussex, Cochins, Hamburgs and Rhode Island Reds. Oh, and the last time I was there, they had ducks. Add two White Cresteds and a Mallard. Duck math is the same as chicken math right??

Melissa Smith July 25th, 2014

We started with 6 Rhode Island Red pullets. One got sick and we had to put her down. Then the remaining 5 got eaten by a coon. So rebuilt a new, bigger coop. Only have 3 Welsummers now (one roo two hens). However, husband has agreed to more so next spring we’ll be ordering about 12 birds. haha! 6-1-5+3+12 = 6 right?

Stacey smith July 25th, 2014

We built our own coop two years ago (has it REALLY been that long??!) after reading everything we could get our hands on. We built it oversized and planned on getting three pullets – even found a local farm that sold them. Got the coop all done just in time for three Americana’s that fall. They were very happy and did very well that first fall and winter. The next February I was passing the feed store and they were just putting out a sign BABY CHICKS! I stopped in to see them and fell in love with those cute little balls of fluff and got 6 red sexlinks. I raised them in the basement (never again!) until they were 3 months old and then put them outside with the big girls who took to them right away – all happy and healthy! That was a year ago and I just can’t seem to stop looking! I was peeking at Craig’s List and found a nice young lady who raises chicks into pullets and sells them every year to make money for college – so I just HAD to support the cause and purchase two orfingtons and a cookoo murahn! I just HAD to!

Katelyn Hendrickson July 25th, 2014

We originally only wanted 6 but that turn out to be 8 because we thought some might die during winter… they all survived. the next year we only wanted 2 but got 3 again thinking about the cold winter… they all survived this year we only wanted 7 but instead we are keeping 8 and next year we will be hatching cute little chickies as well intend to order EE and Redstar.

Tina at Halfway Oak Farm July 26th, 2014

We bought the homestead last August, and we agreed to wait to get chicks until we moved in. I had my first delivery two weeks later. I did wait… we were sleeping in the house and my horse was moved in from her boarding facility. That counts, right? I got 10 chicks but was sent a few extra freebies. I lost 4 due to shipment. I reordered those 4, but I wasn’t sure which ones I’d actually lost since they all looked the same as day olds. I ended up with 10 more; I had to order the breeds I thought I lost plus the other breeds that I wasn’t sure about, just in case. .. plus a couple freebies. They all lived. In October there was an overhatch with breeds I had wanted but had been sold out. I had to order a minimum. Add another 13 and one freebie. I’m not sure how 13 came about, since I really don’t remember wanting that many sold out chicks in August. I now had 40 – a nice even number. We lost one hen and one rooster – the hen to a tumor and the rooster to heat stroke. My son wanted a Spitzhauben Appenzeller. I wanted a turken. I had to order from two companies to get those breeds, and I can’t order just one chick, so I had to add a few more breeds to each company to make the minimums. I got extra freebies from both companies, too. I was able to time the deliveries for the same day; 17 chicks came the beginning of June. Hubby says if I bring an other chicken into this homestead we won’t be celebrating anymore anniversaries – our 25th is this week. I told him I’m happy with the 55 we have. (for now).

Josephine July 26th, 2014

The kids and the daddy went out for ice cream-one day 2 years ago & came back with 6 chicks! Hubby with the pouty face murmering how he knew how much I’d loved the chickens we kept 10 YEARS ago ( before kids).
“But mine were BLACK and SHINY.”…so if we’re going to have chickens, I want black shiny ones too!
I went back to the place I got my THREE chickens 10 years ago.
Ta-DAA! “I’ll take 3 of these black puff balls” – noo, you have to take 6.
“ok, 6.”
“..oh, look gray ones! I’ve never seen gray ones. I’ll take those 2 too.”
“oh! why is that one so small and round? They’re all stepping on her.! I’ll take her too!”
5+6+2+1=6, right?
Then 3 became roo’s. I drove them all the way to NJ to a poultry rescue.
Three gone, must replace 3 because 5+6+2+1-3=3 . can’t have just 3!
so I go to the local market and replace 3..
one so amazingly black with a masquerade type mask of tiny leopard dots- “Pandora”! I name her and carry her around the house plopping her down on news paper room to room as I clean the house.
Needless to say she grew up to be a ROOSTER- blindingly shiny and RED!
Pan became the dad to 36 chicks in one season! But we were good and sold them all.
Ash Wednesday, my favorite black shiny hen, Sophie May became ill and died.
so we kept 2 of the chicks that hatched this Spring to replace her because, simply put 5+6+2+1-3+3-1+2=6.
.so when the neighbors ask. Yes, i have 6 chickens

Cindy P July 27th, 2014

Had lost several hens due to neighboring dogs, skunks, so decided to order through TSC so I would only get 25 birds, 5 of which were going to be Indian Runner Ducks. Ordered 10 Delaware (the friendliest birds I have had) and 10 Giant Black Jersey (just had to see how big they really got) – all females. Order came with one dead chick :-(, so my original 12 plus 20 -1 = 31 – more than the 2 dozen I wanted, but … Then one of my egg customers was in line at the post office behind a patron who was telling the post master they didn’t want those chicks – they had cancelled the order, didn’t have room … she jumped in and rescued them, sure that I would take them – which of course, I did. Twenty-five New Hampshire Reds. Sooo … 12 + 20 -1 + 25 = 24 — right??

Emily C. S. July 27th, 2014

We wanted two chickens. But you can’t have just two, because when one dies the other will be devastated. So, three chickens was necessary. We ordered from My Pet Chicken (thanks!), and our minimum order was four. No big deal, this way if one doesn’t survive the trip or turns out to be a roo, we’ll still have the three we need.
So, we have 4 healthy pullets, and the husband says, “We’d better have enough eggs. I’ll be darned if we spend all this money on chickens and we still have to buy eggs at the market.” Right. Two more pullets added to the bunch.
And I think we can squeeze another two into the coop… I wonder if the husband would notice….

Rebecca July 27th, 2014

We started with six. Then someone I knew found three abandoned chickens on a farm. While picking up feed at tractor Supply, I noticed a chick being pecked bloody by the others and told a store employee. He said they had “a couple” more like that out back, and I could have them if I wanted, or they’d probably die. I took home eleven that day. (I’m also not allowed in Tractor Supply alone anymore.)

Jen July 29th, 2014

This article came at the perfect time in my life lol! I just got permission from my hubby to start a 10 chicken flock on our little farm.. hopefully he just doesn’t read this article about chicken math lol

Emily August 12th, 2014

We built a beautiful big coop with the aim to get 2 bantams and add to the flock over the years. We went to pick up 2 lavender peakin bantams and came back with 2 lavender, 2 black and white speckled, 1 black and 1 buff. Then we wanted a white sussex bantam, found one on the internet and went to pick her up. We came home with 1 white sussex bantam, 2 old english game bantams and a dutch bantam. Then we found a seller with silver seabrights, we went to get 2, came home with 4 and 6 hatching eggs, only one hatched but we now have a very healthy and sweet silver seabright rooster, which will be with the girls next spring. So 6+4+4+1=2?? Yes??

Cally August 16th, 2014

I am planning on getting chickens next spring. I picked out the 6 chickens I want, and the coop. Then I found out about Favaucanas and Stars and Silver Laced polish, and of course I’ll want an Easter Egger. So I’m gathering materials and loose change for a coop that will hold at least twenty chickens. Or maybe twenty two……………..?

Weird how chicken math effects me when I don’t even have chickens yet, isn’t it?

6+2+2+1+1+(insert future chickens here)= 6, right?

Lisa August 21st, 2014

Finally!!!! A group of people who understand math. We too started of with 3, only 3. Mmmm, what’s 2 more? Oh but look at the cute little spring chicks. 5 has grown to 12. Ok, no more! We’re good now! Aaack, a posting for black copper marans. Yup, we’ll take all 6. Eee gads, 18! Oh let’s go to the bird show. Are those frizzle’s, ok 2 more, a couple silkies for the kids and some cuckoo marans and partridge in a pear tree. So here we sit, 26 birds later. I’m sure people glance at me as “that chicken lady” but darn it! You just don’t understand unless you truly get chicken math!

sharon September 9th, 2014

What to start?! We decided, and by we I mean me, to build a coop and do d some nice laying pullets. We (I) hadn’t had chicken for a long time and I missed having them. So we start building and of course my husband brings home 3 chickens before we’re ready for them. Three hens the guy said were rir, well maybe, but the are pleasant and lay well. So one day before the coop is completed I’m looking on craigslist for what else but chickens! I find an ad for speckled Sussex pullets! Yay for me so I talk to the fellow and ask my husband to please buy me 2 pullets and I’ll be happy, so he meets the man and his nice chickens and call me to say he also has.two cockrells he needs one gone. Okay and hey why don’t we get one more pullet and make it a quad? Okay 3+2=5+2= 5 haha and so it goes! Have just sold the three year old Sussex quad and met a nice lady with Barnevelders we agreed to buy 3 pullets and came home with 5 and 2 little roos. Barnevelders are beautiful and the roosters are extra handsome! And no the new coop wasn’t finished this time either! I stopped trying to do the math!

Verro October 3rd, 2014

I’m so relived to read this since being an engineer I have had trouble with this chicken math. We spoke many years about getting some chickens and decided when our girls did not use their playhouse anymore I would rebuild it into a coop. Well this summer it was time, BUT since we live in Finland and have cold winters and I would have to rebuilt the floor, walls and roof of that tiny house it made more sense building a new one, a little bit bigger one isn’t that right? Well 5 chickens we decided on and maybe a few more next spring. I did built a big coop that could easily have over 20 chickens I mean I have a room for the food and chick area and so on , I mean just in case. But OK the day of the delivery of the chickens came and by that day I discussed with my husband if maybe we should get 6 chickens I mean we are 5 in the family and 6 chicken would make sure we get one egg per person per day, this I thought was a very good reason. OK not logical I know it now. So we got 6 chickens..but….without a rooster, those girls would need a rooster since they walk free around the property and like most Finns we live in the forest so actually a rooster would not bother anyone. Well we got from a nearby small breeder this beautiful ½-yearold half Brahma half Faverolle rooster that lived with one hen…. that hen would have been forced into a big flock if we left her, alone , hey come one we had to take her, right? so our math was 5+1+2=5 and this new hen is now laying on her beautiful little egg and I just cannot take it from her she looks soooo proud ……

Chelsea November 14th, 2014

I randomly thought chickens would be great one day, but to my dismay found that they weren’t allowed in our area. Lucky for me we bought a home a year later and it was in a rural area with 5 acres and a shed behind the pole barn.. Hmmmm… I could already see them running about like sugar plum chickens dancing in my head! The shed was so large, and my husband did such a great job making it into a coop, our original talk of a few hens was bumped up to 12, I had to make good use of the large space and hard work, right? Then I had to add a duck! Now they are big girl layers and I’m so proud of them! But my duck hen needed another duck, so I ran right out and found her a bff, and she was just accepted a couple weeks ago! Well those 12 hens don’t quite produce as many eggs as I thought.. Hmmm? My husband said another dozen would be fine. Oh, what’s that? Ordering for spring chicks time already?? Perfect! I love my orps, and they come in lavander!? I’ll take two! All out of favacaunas? Okay, 4 favorolles and a couple easter eggers, best of both worlds.. Always wanted heritage, better get 4barred rocks. And I’m dying for those chocolate eggs I keep hearing about! 4 copper Marans.. 16? Well that’s like 12 only I rounded up, and who orders odd numbers? That would be weird.. Chicken math: for us it easily doubles, must grows based on egg and feather colors, and is always even…

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jean oxford March 4th, 2015

would love to win new coop.

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Nikki Hodgson March 24th, 2016

We were going to start small–just 8 chickens and 2 ducks because I thought they were adorable. Suddenly it turned into 16 chickens and 10 ducks due to some good deals at Tractor Supply. Sadly we lost half of our chickens that year to an attack by our dogs and a good majority of the ducks turned out to be male and were gotten rid of–so 8 chickens and 4 ducks. I’d wanted some blue egg layers so we had Ameraucanas and Reds. Well by then I had already gotten hooked into the gorgeous different breeds and was quickly planning what to get for the next year. I knew I wanted Barred Rocks and Australorps and my boyfriend wanted Isa Browns. Those were added the next year. Then, when shopping for the Isa Browns I came across some silver-laced Wyandottes and Light Brahmas. They were beautiful and had to be added as well. So our chicken numbers, after getting rid of roosters, grew to around 50. This year I wanted more fun, rare breeds as week as more blue egg layers and a white egg layer. So we’ve got some Anconas amd blue-laced Red Wyandottes and have plans for more Ameraucanas as well as Jersey Giants (the boyfriend decided he wanted huge chickens). We also decided to get into meat birds and turkeys this year as well. This will put our chicken flock around 75-80,our ducks are now at 9 after taking in some rescues, and we’ll be adding about 6 turkeys. And yes, even despite being told our coop can hold no more layers, I’m secretly planning what exciting new breeds I could get next year!
So much for just a modest little flock to feed our family. Chicken math at its finest.

Laurie April 7th, 2016

I know what you mean! I went to “look” at the chicks at the feed store. Came home with their last five, purchased all five in what seems was a panic buy – like anyone is going to run out of chicks! Then my daughter ordered 3 online – but for safety, they sent 4 (just in case). Chicken math is contagious, and it starts at the hatchery apparently!

Tammy July 30th, 2016

My chicken math was aided by my dad who was looking for a project around the house. He decided on building a new chicken coop (the original one wasn’t as functional as we wanted). Well the new coop was a good bit bigger than the original. We decided after having a broody chicken that we would let her sit in the old coop so she wouldn’t be bothered. Of course she only had two eggs, so after the chicks were older and integrated into the flock we thought we might as well keep both coops (they’re already there, right?). So with all of this extra coop space I decided that since we had a bunch of good layers, we should get some interesting chicks. We got a couple of silkies, a cochin frizzle, a blue andalusian and a polish. Later that year, on my birthday, hubby gives me a big box. I open it to find some cool vintage egg/chicken signs. Lifting those out, I see an incubator! Seems I have a family of chicken math enablers!

[…] 18… or was that 20? Who’s counting anyway! That’s right, I’m suffering from Chicken Math. I’m a chickaholic, what do you expect? Of course my husband just shook his head and asked […]

Adrienne August 19th, 2016

Ten years old and we moved to the country. I had spent muchtime on farms hunting eggs for the neighbors. I said to my Dad, “Can we have chickens?” He said yes! He brought home 6 White Leghorns retired from the local hatchery. I picked up a hen from the box and as I went to place my hand under her….SHE LAID AN EGG!!!!! Talk about hooked. Never looked back or counted. Had close to 500 birds at one time. All different varieties. Bantys for brooding the non broody breeds. Three little hens and 60 chicks! Some were family, some for food. Right now 50 years later and a new home (no big dairy barn) there are 60 birds. A mixed flock. Mille (Mille Fleur rooster) is 10 years old. Husband is not just an enabler but has Turkey Math syndrome. He has 10 Bourbon Reds, two Bronze Breasted hens, and 4 Narraganset. I have Duck Math also. 11 Black Cayugas and 3 Kakki Campbells. Kakkis lay every day!

Fran December 20th, 2016

We rescued a stray rooster. He needed hens. Our state requires 6, ok we get 3 leg horns and 3 Reds. Convert a space in t he garage/barn/shed to a coop. But wait there is this thing called molting where the hens don’t lay much. That means get more hens. So next spring 6 more hens but since the first 6 are not laying much you still only have 6 hens not what some might say is 12. Ok coop is full. But wait you have people asking to buy eggs and you want pretty colors now and you realize we can expand the coop. So come spring you order 14 more in a full variety based on egg color and a few special based on their beauty. Since they are all different from what you already have that’s only 14. The feed store gives you 2 extras but they don’t count cause you didn’t order them so you still only have 12. Shhhhh don’t tell anyone we need a bigger coop and more food.

Kat December 20th, 2016

well we started with an order….that means we have to do 15 at the beginning of the season….two turned out to be Roos so we had to replace them and get 2 hens…. so to the feed store we went and their limit is 5 so 15-2+5= 15 and 2 Roos so we’re good. Well the Roos are getting to rough with the hens and are getting super mean so we have to do something. Rehome the Roos over the winter and wait for spring…sadly lose two bird by Spring. so now we’re down to 16. Always wanted a silkie or a frizzle so to the feed store….aww these cochins are cute and I miss having chicks so I’ll get some….and my friend wants some so I’ll get some for her…. 16+8-4 = 20 we’re back where we started. Check feed store every week…. look these guys are cute and a frizzel!!! 20+5…but oh no….one chick got smothered, so sad! Back to feed store to replace the one chick but one chick is so lonely in the box by itself on the ride home 24+3. Step mom builds a coop and takes a few extra off our hands 27-5…..FINALLY someone who sells silkies lets get 6 plus 3 polish and we can give some to our friend who just bought 15 because she needs a silkie or two 22+9-3 = 28 Someone asks me how many chickens I have in my flock…”oh we keep our flock around 15″

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