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Posts from the ‘Getting Started’ Category

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:

Fowl Play: Chickens & Kids

Do chickens make good pets? Yes, chickens do make good pets. I would beg to ask, do children make good chicken keepers?

We have 5 hens a rabbit and a dog, and our children help to care for all of them equally, meaning when we remind them to do so. And as cute as the rabbit is and as clever as our dog is, it is the chickens who – when the kids have friends over – garner all the attention and interest.

Those birds are of endless fascination to visiting children, which of course gives our own children a heaping spoonful of pride as well as a bit of know-it-all-ness.

Some children (one boy in particular comes to mind) can be a little rough with the birds, chasing after them in an effort to see if they will take to flight like a plane down a runway. The girls tend to be a bit more gentle but just as fixated, simply resorting to checking for eggs every 15 minutes, which of course means disturbing any poor hen in the coop who might actually be considering laying an egg. (Just as an FYI, our chickens typically don’t lay eggs the day after a children’s party was held in our backyard, they really do need a day to recover from the ‘attention’.)

As for our children and their friends, we think that they have all benefited from their experiences with the chickens. They are all comfortable with the knowledge that eggs are laid by those same chickens in our backyard; they are especially fond of the blue/green ones. And they like eating those eggs as well, in fact we’ve been told by a friend that one certain child only wants to eat ‘Thompson eggs’ because “they taste better and are pretty” – he’s a smart kid that one.

Of course one of the main reasons we got chickens to begin with was so our children could learn about where their food comes from as well as to introduce the idea of farming and animal husbandry to them. But there have been other lessons learned that we initially didn’t consider, not until attending our local 4H poultry club that is.

The 4-H really encourages families to let the children take responsibility for the care of the birds as well as the management of the flock and the eggs. They strongly advocate the sale of eggs and discourage eggs being given away for free. The idea is to value the work of the chickens as well as the work of the children and to teach some simple economics; the cost to care for the birds should be reflected in the sale price of the eggs. We decided that our son would get to keep the proceeds from the sale of the eggs if he cared for the chickens; it’s our alternative to a paper route.

All kidding aside, if you plan to keep a flock and have youngish children (5 and under), the CDC has a document entitled “So you want to raise chickens”. It’s filled with common sense suggestions, mostly around sanitation, but it is worth the fast read. Additionally, here is a short list of advice we wanted to share from personal experience:

  1. Hens really do have a tender disposition and can easily get stressed by the attention children pay to then. For the sake of the birds if not the kids, visiting children should be supervised.
  2. If you have roosters, be cautious with them around the children. From our experience, they can be aggressive and territorial and will peck at legs or whatever other body part they can get to.
  3. Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching chickens or anything in their environment. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Bacteria on your hands can be easily transferred to objects, the birds and other people in your home.

Books to inspire and inform:
Your Chickens; A Kid’s Guide to Raising and Showing: This book covers budgeting, pecking order, health care and egg exploration.

One Hen – How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference: One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many.

Chick Pics

No, not those kinds of chicks, we’re talking about the cute feathery kind …

If you have a Flickr account, add your photos to our Eggzy group pool to see your flock on Eggzy’s homepage. All photos in the Eggzy photo group take turn showing up on the homepage, which means everyone coming to the site can see your amazingly beautiful and awesome flock. Really.

And while you’re at it, how about adding those same flock photos to your egg stand? Doing this is relatively easy and painless to do and adding photos of your birds to your egg stand helps others identify with your flock – here’s a link to our help page that tells you how.

Eggzy in Real Eats Magazine!

We got the chance to chat with David Becker of and had a great time discussing  the basics of chicken farming, especially as it relates to those who live in urban areas and are just starting out.  Check it out, the article is called Cluck to Pluck and it is featured in the Farmacology section of Real Eats magazine.