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