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Understanding Chicken Math

It may not be logical but it does make sense, chicken math is the back-of-the-envelope calculating that takes place when managing a flock of chickens. Now the trick to chicken math, from what I can tell, is foresight. In performing chicken math, consideration and adjustments need to be made for gender, predators, illness and age — have I forgotten anything?

So for instance, let’s say you’ve decided that you want to keep chickens for eggs and your coop/yard can comfortably support 8 chickens. Assuming you get a chicken breed known for egg production, you can estimate 5 eggs per week per hen, or roughly 40 eggs a week from the flock. This number is important because it becomes your target goal, your inventory, what you plan for and maybe even sell against.

If you decide to raise your birds from (ordered) chicks, a straight run gives you a 50/50 chance that your birds will be female. Knowing this, you should order 16 birds to start with assuming half of them will be males and good for the pot. In other words, if you want 8 laying hens, it actually makes sense to start with 16 birds – that’s chicken math.

Now if instead of starting with baby chicks you go the route of started pullets where gender can be guaranteed, it would probably still behoove you to add a couple of extra birds to the mix in order to guarantee against predators, weather and/or illness. In this scenario, ordering 10 pullets will get you to a stable flock of 8 laying hens in a couple of months; again, chicken math.

And as that flock ages and time, weather and the elements impact egg production – younger birds need to be introduced into the formula to offset decreased productivity – foresight will require you plan to add even before you actually need to add to give those younger birds time to reach egg-laying maturity. In this case, 6 older birds and 4 younger birds may get you the target egg count you’re aiming for. That’s right, 6 old and 4 young roughly equals the productivity of 8 peak laying hens – chicken math.

To read more about chicken math, there are some interesting threads and posts online, check out some of these articles listed below, it’s fascinating to see how others’ do chicken math:

 

 Photo credit: http://www.sherylkirby.com

Count Your Eggs!

We speak to lots of folks who keep chickens and the degree to which flock owners’ track flock productivity varies wildly. Some flock owners track productivity mentally, taking note of things like egg count, color and size. Others we speak to go all out and create complex spreadsheets to track things like time of day laid, size, weight and location of each egg laid for each bird!

Keeping a record of your flocks’ egg production and laying habits is actually an important part of raising healthy birds. At a minimum, it is important to keep a record of the amount of eggs laid, preferably daily. As pointed out at farmingfriends.com “Poultry can stop laying and if you know the dates that this occurs it allows you to track any changes that may have occurred such as change in feed, weather, housing, lighting or the introduction of new birds which may all effect the egg laying of poultry.”

For us at Eggzy, we also believe in the many benefits of small-scale entrepreneurship that selling your eggs can enable. What Patricia Forman calls the Home Eggri-business. By tracking how many eggs you are getting from your flock today, you can determine how much you can expect to get tomorrow and next month and so on.

Why is it so important to track your flock productivity?

  • Helps to identify disease or illness
  • Helps to compare breed productivity – which birds are better layers
  • Allows you to project how much you can sell and as such earn from eggs sales
  • Helps to determine your return on investment from the birds

When you use Eggzy to track your flock production you’re accomplishing two things at once;

  1. You’re capturing important flock behavioral habits and gathering important information that will help you to manage your flock.
  2. You’re sharing your flock info with others who are interested in any surplus that you may have to sell.

Do you count your eggs?


Are You An Egghead?

According to Wikipedia, the term egghead is slang for (or an insult directed at) people thought so smart as to be ‘out-of-touch with ordinary people … on account of their intellectual interests.’ At least that’s how the insult evolved; initially it seemed to be a reference to the balding head of Adlai Stevenson.

“Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.” —  Adlai Stevenson

In celebration of egg-loving eggheads, we compiled a collection of interesting and essential egg terms that you may or may not know, but should know if you keep chickens. Take a minute to review all 10 terms, then test your egg-knowledge by choosing a study option from the menu below the flash cards. Have fun and do let us know if you have any suggestions for words we should add to the list.

More like this: Chicken Scratch Quizlet

Featured Flock Owner: Walnut Kitchen Homestead

Member Name: The Owl Family
Join Date: December 28, 2011
Egg Stand: “Walnut Kitchen Homestead” of  Scranton KS, 66537
Website: walnutkitchenhomestead.com

They’ve only been raising chickens for little over a year and in that time they’ve gone from 12 to 65 birds (if you count the ducks and guineas!). Read on to learn more about how one family members interest in chickens influenced a lifestyle change for all!

Eggzy: Why do you use Eggzy?
WK Homestead: We use Eggzy to track everything chicken.  This includes: tracking our flock’s egg production, keep notes on how our chicken math is working, the average price per egg, and the age and breed of the chickens we have.  We even try to keep track of which breed is laying.  That isn’t always easy!

Eggzy: Tell us something about yourself?
WK Homestead: Until recently, we lived in a city.  Small yes, but it was a city.  Like many cities, the keeping and raising of poultry was illegal.  However, my daughter became very interested in chickens.  She changed the ordinance regarding fowl, to allow the housing of up to twelve hens or ducks.  It didn’t take long for us to have seventeen (including illegal roosters), and be above the legal limit for chickens .  Because the whole family became interested in farming and agriculture, we found an old farmhouse and moved to a very rural community.  We now have over fifty chickens.

Eggzy: How long have you been keeping chickens?
WK Homestead: Our chicken raising adventure started in March of 2011.  We purchased 12 baby bantams, and due to the fact everyone wanted eggs sooner than later, we soon added 4 adult birds.  That is when we learned about chicken math… only a year and a half ago.

Eggzy: Why do you keep chickens (For eggs, for meat, for show, as pets, etc.)?
WK Homestead: We keep chickens to amuse ourselves with their personalities (teaching them to perch on our shoulders, watching them fly across the cow pasture), keep our refrigerator stocked with eggs, and to have some rooster in the freezer when one gets old (or mean).

Eggzy: How many birds to you have?
WK Homestead: We only have fifty chickens, but when you include the ducks and guineas we have a total of about sixty five.

Eggzy: What do you feed your birds? Organic? Conventional? Table scraps?
WK Homestead: Our birds get a home-mixed whole grain natural food supplemented with table scraps, whatever bugs they find in the yard, grass, the pretty flowers, mulberrys,  oyster shells, and grit.

Eggzy: How do you raise your birds, are they pastured?
WK Homestead: All of our chickens are pastured.  They are let out as soon as we wake up, and have access to anywhere they choose to go.  Everyone asks us how we keep them out of the road.  It is a community thing, the old chickens teach the new ones, and those teach their babies.

Eggzy: Do you have a favorite breed?
WK Homestead: All of our family members have a different breed that we love.  My son’s preference is the silkie bantam.  My daughter loves the Belgian d’Uccle.  My husband likes ones that lay large, preferably double yoked eggs, and I find that I am partial to Easter Eggers and Dorkings.

Eggzy: Do you name your chickens?
WK Homestead: Yes, every single one of our birds has a name. It is a precarious thing naming birds. The farm mascot is Uffie, a black sikie hen. She runs everyone and currently is now the proud mom of 1 chick. All other chickens are currently staying far away from her.

Eggzy: Do you sell your eggs?
WK Homestead: We will sell our eggs to anyone who wants to buy them. They are located in a self-serve fridge on the front porch.

Eggzy: Do you cull birds from your flock?
WK Homestead: We cull and eat our birds for various reasons. If we have too many roosters, want to have a chicken dinner, or one is sick. There are a few chickens that have been deemed worthy of living a full life on the farm. Most are on some sort of breed/cull cycle.

Eggzy: Do you have any advice, tips or insights you would like to share?
WK Homestead: When purchasing your first flock, join a website called BackYardChickens.com. This is an invaluable resource for help to get started and continue to raise a healthy, happy flock. 2. Build a bigger coop than you can think you can fill up. Chickens multiply, sometimes faster than rabbits. 3. Watch out for mites. They come in on hay and are hard to get rid of. 4. If you get a guinea, raise it with you flock from the start. 5. If possible, let your chickens free-range. They eat so many bugs, that there is a noticeable decrease in the ant, slug, spider, beetle, chigger, flea, tick, and caterpillar population. 5. Buy breeds that interest you, and that will be fun to watch and grow.