Dear esteemed colleagues, there is a well-known and documented phenomenon known as “Chicken Math” effecting our coops, though there is little academic research on this particular topic. Those afflicted with Chicken Math are known to confuse “actual head counts” with misstated and often unintentional lower total counts of chickens in their flock, in many cases taking the stance of “well that one doesn’t count because of xyz reason…”. This condition becomes even more acute when adding new chickens and purchasing chicks at the store.
I do hereby set forth the following 10 advanced chicken mathematical proofs in an effort to clarify some of the hypothetical mysteries facing flock counting in our much-coveted hobby. Apply these findings freely to your current knowledge base and understanding of chicken math, as appropriate of course.
Foundational Math: “One Chicken” Counts as “One Chicken” … with a few exceptions.
Any given chicken counts as one (1) chicken towards your total flock count- be it hen or cock, pullet or cockerel- and regardless of size, breed, age or egg color, except as is dictated by the mathematically proven modifications in the following 10 proofs!!!
Proof #1: The First Laying Hen of Each Egg Color Does Not Count
As is clearly shown above, I have proven that the first egg layer of each different color does not count towards flock size. This applies to White, Cream, Brown, Blue, Green, Olive, and other color variations. There could be a sub-argument that due to the lack of pigmentation in the white egg layers, that they do not count towards flock numbers; however, I was unable to prove this hypothesis unequivocally.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 1: “Sweetie, to deny our children a wholesome Easter basket full of various colored eggs would be a deficiency in their childhood”. (Note: delivering this argument over a fresh breakfast with over-easy eggs, toast and bacon has seen notable increases in success metrics).
Proof #2: The First Hen of Each Breed Does Not Count
Given the egg-color findings as outlined above, it occurred to me that there was likely correlation but not necessarily causation in the variation of the chicken breeds on flock size. It did not take long to realize that like egg color: the first of each kind of chicken breed was also not applicable towards flock size. An important note here is that breed is not mutually exclusive to egg color; meaning if you have two Brown Egg Layers of the same Breed, this still counts as 1 Chicken (not 0 because these chickens are mathematically identical and one chicken counts for both the breed and the egg color); however, if you have two brown egg layers from two different breeds, this does indeed count as 0 additional chickens towards the flock count.
Practical, Situational Application of Proof 2: “Honestly my love, the differences in a Rhode Island Red and a Golden Comet are so stark that I could hardly count that new hen against my total flock size”. (Note: historically this discussion is better received by the non-chicken-math-side of the family if the two breeds in question look much different… think Black Australorp vs Columbian Wyandotte).
Proof #3: Bantams and Silkies Count as ½ Chicken
Through extensive study, I have perfected the proof that evidences Bantam breeds do not count as a full chicken, regardless of quantity. This is due in part to their size, but many other key flock counting factors such as food intake, space requirements, noise, warmth needs and general exposure are taken into account. As such, this proof clearly shows that Bantam breeds and Silkies count for ½ chicken. Keep in mind you always need to round up when divulging flock size to non chicken-math people and keep with whole numbers. Never tell someone you have 3 and half chickens, just go with 4.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 3: “What do you mean I have 10 chickens honey? Clearly there are only 5.” (Note: it is important that you hold fast to your count as already having possession of said chickens has won you 9/10th of the argument).
Proof #4: Non-Chicken Animals Do Not Count
Though rudimentary, it is important to note that non-Chicken animals do not count towards the flock size. It is regularly observed that non-chickens are included in flock calculations, sometimes even incorporating small humans in the counts; this approach is proved false by the calculation above. This proof includes (but is not limited to): dogs, cats, goats, horses, donkeys, sheep, cows, pigs, llamas, rabbits, small and large humans. On a scholastic note, the larger the overall animal-count becomes though; the more difficult justification for additional chickens becomes. Keep this in mind as you consider that “super cute baby goat”. PS- Goats just eat and don’t lay eggs = kinda worthless anyway.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 4: “Sweetheart, I understand we have 3 goats, 2 dogs and a llama, but those animals are irrelevant when determining my flock size and I really do need another Silkie.” (Note: you could attempt to further negotiate by explaining how a silkie is also only half a chicken as proven earlier, but use this tactic at your discretion).
Proof #5: Gifted and Rescued Chickens Do Not Count
This should be a “no-brainer” but clearly any chicken that is gifted and/or rescued does not count towards total flock size because you did not intend to add them to your flock in the first place. Flock size should be predicated on premeditation and an incidental or accidental add should not count against your flock size. Additionally, receiving gifted chickens is rare and should be celebrated, not calculated.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 5: “I understand Sally gave me 4 more chickens but these were not included when I planned my flock.” (Note: After delivering this statement, it is best to walk away to give it time to sink in).
Proof #6: Named Chickens Do Not Count
When pet owners are queried about their pets, they often refer to their pets as being “part of the family”. One of the most important distinguishing factors of pets is that they have been named. Therefore, when a chicken is named it becomes part of the family and not part of the flock. Since it is not part of the flock, it is only logical that this chicken no longer adds to your flock counts.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 6: “Honey, the cutest thing happened today, [insert child’s name] named our Buff Orpington “Butterscotch”. She’s really part of the family now.” (Note: Be sure to stress the word “family” in this statement to drive home the underlying truth that this chicken has now been removed from the flock count perpetually).
Proof #7: Every Third Rooster Does Not Count
Most free-ranging flocks will be accompanied by a Rooster, possibly a second as a back-up depending on the flock size. Both of these Roosters count towards flock count. However, during incubation periods we know that roughly half of all eggs are male, and thus we get a lot of extra cockerels. It’s hard to give them all away and sometimes there’s one that just has the most interesting little attitude that you can’t part with (at least not yet). Additionally, my findings show that Roosters are cycled much more often than hens, so it only makes sense that this third position is a revolving door of sorts, and thus the third Rooster does not count towards flock totals.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 7: “Yes sweetie I hear all three of them crowing in unison at 4am but I’m sure one of them will be eaten sooner or later.” (Note: after delivering this statement roll over in bed and go back to sleep, the message will be burnt into your partner’s subconscious and should not be an issue going forward).
Proof #8: Replacements for Predated Chickens Only Count as ½ Chicken
It is extremely sad when one or more of your prized flock is predated; but can you really blame the predators as chickens just taste so darn good? The good news is, chickens are generally readily available for replacement. Additionally, as outlined in the equation above, a predated chicken replacement only counts as ½ of a flock count because one is a replacement and another could get predated and we need to have backups as insurance.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 8: “That darn hawk got two of our free ranging hens today, I’ll go to the store and get some replacements tomorrow.” (Note: be sure not to specify the actual quantity of replacements in this statement, see Proof #10).
Proof #9: When Incubating Eggs, Chicks Hatched for Friends that you Keep, Don’t Count
We all know that hatching rates are almost never 100%, therefore it is absolutely acceptable to make the assumption that extra eggs above and beyond your intended flock increase will not properly gestate or can be given away to chicken friends. When those extras do indeed hatch, if kept, they do not count against your flock count because as shown in the equation above they sum to zero. Also, you can never count your chickens before they hatch, so really eggs in general are irrelevant towards flock count… right?
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 9: “Sweetie, no one is going to get above a 70% hatch rate so these extra eggs in the incubator are to ensure we get the flock replenishment we need and if we get too many of course I will give them to Sally.” (Note: You can just raise and lower the hatch rate number you use arbitrarily to match the number of extra eggs you have included... “Sweetie, no one is going to get above a 50% hatch rate…” etc., - also if Sally is already incubating eggs for you, that is irrelevant, a good friend always includes eggs for their friends).
Proof #10: When Buying Chicks, Each Chick Counts as 2/3
When you go to the store with the absolute resolve of getting only 4 chicks, yet somehow come home with 6, note that this is acceptable as purchased chicks only count as 2/3 of a chicken. As proven above, there is a variance in the chicken space-time-continuum which discludes breeds you do not have from actual flock counts when purchasing new chicks.
Practical / Situational Application of Proof 10: “I know honey that I said only 4 chicks but they had Easter Eggers and I needed a few blue egg layers.” (Note: In this specific situation, if you didn’t already have a blue egg layer it wouldn’t count anyway… but that aside state your case and move on to the brooder).
QUIZ TIME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Record your answers to the following questions to see how your chicken math skills rank. Remember you can only apply Chicken Math once to each breed/variety (so you can’t say the first RIR is 0 because of breed and then the second RIR is 0 because it is a brown egg layer, the 1st RIR uses both).
And of course… you can never have less than 1 chicken or people will catch on to us… I mean you.
CONGRATS YOU HAVE FINISHED THE QUIZ!!! Below is the Answer key, and here is how you rank given your score!
0 Correct: So ahhh... you do know what a chicken is... right?
1- 3 Correct: Welcome to BYC! You have a lot to learn about Chicken Math!
4-6 Correct: Now we're talking! A very respectable Chicken Math score. Walk Tall and add more chickens to your flock!
7-8 Correct: Well look at you Mr/Mrs. 5000 posts! You are a true follower of the Chicken Math path! Be sure to share your knowledge with others!
9 Correct: You are a true Chicken Math Champion! Please write the next article!