Chicken math.

Ahhhh, chicken math. Chicken owners laugh about it. Chicken owners’ spouses dread it. But what is it?

Chicken math is what we call the ups and downs of the number of chickens in your flock, but acquisition, death, loss by roo…it goes a little something like this (true story from an anonymous Backyard Chickens forum member):

Started with 3 (and only allowed 3 by husband)
2 were roos…left with 1
Ordered 5 from My Pet Chicken – now have 6
1 was a roo – left with 5
1 died – left with 4
Given 4 white polish eggs – ordered 12 more bantam polish eggs
Hatched 4 white polish – hatched 4 bantam polish – now have 12
2 roos – down to 10
Rehomed 4 white polish – now have 6
Coop for 3 – 4 max… need a new coop.

THAT’S chicken math. You think you’re going to keep a certain number of chickens, you make allowances for losses by illness, injury, predator and gender (many folks can’t keep roos). Sometimes you lose what you think you might, sometimes you don’t, and you end up with more hens than you bargained for. Many chicken owners cannot resist the siren song of hatching, and fuzzy chick butts.

We ALL end up with more than we originally planned for. When The Man and I started talking about this venture last March, one of the first things I read was that you can’t keep just one chicken. Well, you can, but it would be miserable. They are very social creatures, and rely on each other for company, and for their mutual survival.

So, three, then. We’ll get three. But Agway will only sell you a minimum of six. Okay. Six, then. So, we go to Agway to order the chicks in advance, and I turn to The Man and I say “Six?”, and The Man turns to me, and says, “Let’s get twelve.”

I’m all…really? Umm, okay. I mean, chicks die, right? They’re fragile things, right? We have cats, and a dog. Shit happens.

Except it didn’t. At 15 weeks, twelve healthy chooks. But one was a roo. Can’t have a roo. And then there were eleven. And then shit did happen, and the fox got Angelina. And then there were ten. Ten is still a whole lot more than three, though. The Man wants to hold at our present count for at least another year. I…don’t.

Chicken math.

It’s not that I want more chickens. We really don’t have room for more, and the ones we have are about as much work as I can handle. It’s not even that I have the very common baby chick addiction. I like my chickens a lot more now than I did then.

It’s that there are so many cool kinds of chickens. And now that I’m friends with Chicken Debbie, I’m hoping to have a tiny bit of pull when Agway gets chicks in next spring. I would really like to have some Australorps, which are the Australian version of Orpingtons, like Trixie and Buffy, who are our friendliest chickens. Australorps are laying machines. They also look super cool: all black feathers, with that magical iridescent green/blue sheen.

I. Want. SOME.

Just think of the naming possibilities: Morgana, Morticia, Elvira, Bette Noire…feel free to chime in. And, when my current hens are molting next fall, leaving me eggless for two to three months (!!!!), these babies would just be hitting their stride.

I would also like a couple of Easter Eggers. Easter Eggers are mutt chickens (derived from Amercaunas, a rare blue-egg laying breed you can only get from dedicated breeders these days). They can look like practically anything, often with really cute muffs under their beaks, making them look bearded. But their eggs…are GREEN.

I. Want. SOME.

Wouldn’t you?!

So, when The Man said yesterday that he didn’t want more chicks this spring because we already have enough chickens. I nodded in agreement.

We’ll see…


4 thoughts on “Chicken math.

  1. Oh the spouses have no say in the long run.. lol

    I started out with the same number. We had agreed on three.. Though we brought home four.. :P How we got up to 19 is another story.

    You look to have room for more. A couple more really isn’t going to make the work more. As long as you only have one coop, you are up for the same amount of work.

    I think you should definitely get some easter eggers! They lay BLUE eggs as well as green. I can’t find them anywhere here. I love their beards and tufts too. One or two would be perfect for your flock.

    • I have no desire to hatch…yet. Call me crazy, but I like being able to pick my chicks AFTER they’ve been born. That way, I can check for health, vitality and soundness. And now that I know a thing or two…gender. I’ve heard far too much about malformed chicks, and 90% roos to want to go hatching. I DO, however, want to slip some day olds under a broody. I’d like to get 4 Australorps and 2 Easter Eggers and slip them under one of my Orps, who show every sign of being broody types. As for the spouses having no say, I would agree with you if it were not for the fact that I may well be away for long periods of time in the not-too-distant future, leaving care of the chooks to The Man. So…he gets a say!

  2. We had Australorps on the farm I grew up on, before I was paying much attention to how cool chickens were. But they were calm and very pretty, and layed nice eggs. We got them from Murray MacMurray, and one even won grand champion chicken at the New York state fair.

    We did mail-order, so had to get 8. Five bantams that were our intended flock, and three of them were “packing peanuts” – Red Star production hens, and we supposed we might give them to the nice farm down the street where they could freerange. But two years later, they are still here, being lovable and snuggly. As I type, one is in the kitchen recuperating from possible peritonitis.

    • How cool that you got a champion from a hatchery! I can’t get over the difference between, say, my Plymouth Barred Rocks and “well bred” PBRs. For one, my girls have combs three times the size of show girls…

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