Chicken Math is like no other math. It is a beautiful spiral with no straight lines. It is defined by colors, feathers, and fluffy butts, with numbers as a key component and unexpected illogical exceptions. It’s origin is very easily recognized – one person. Then typically a second person says OK and the math begins. 1+1
1+1=1 coop designed for a specific number of chickens. The math is 2, 3, or 4 square feet of space for each chicken. Our first coop is 8’x6’=48 square feet, so it is big enough for 24, 16, or 12 chickens, depending on which expert you’ve read last. So we planned on 8 chickens in our 48 square foot coop. We didn’t want to be reported for being Mean to Chickens. The whole space thing is laughingly moot at our chicken farm though, because the chickens spend their day outside in the run or free ranging. They only go into the coop to eat, lay, or sleep. It appears they need 2 square inches total to sleep for all of them because evidently chickens invented the Puppy Pile.
The coop has 4 nest boxes. Each nest box can accommodate 4 chickens because chickens like to share and take turns. (Not really. That was another Urban Myth perpetuated by the Self-Proclaimed Experts) So in theory we are also safe there. 4×4=16. We have 7 chickens. Plenty of nest boxes. Except for the Unpopular Nest Box that No One Uses.
Where the Chicken Math begins its spiral is with colors, feathers, and fluffy butts. The 4 beautiful buff-colored Orpingtons are 3 weeks older than the 3 sleek, shimmering black Australorps. The fluffy butt teen-aged Orpingtons were mean to the still-peeping baby Australorps, so we built a second coop. It is 5’x8’=40 square feet with 2 nest boxes for 3 chickens. The Little Girls’ coop is big enough for 20, 13, or 10 chickens.
There are two chickens that like to lay their eggs in the coop that is not their original coop; there are five chickens that like to have lunch at the ‘other’ coop; there are three chickens that become irately loud or even panicky if they can’t get to their personal nest box; there is one chicken that doesn’t mind being at the bottom of the pecking order, but don’t get between her and food. 2+5+3+1=7
And we still have 4 chickens in a coop big enough for 24, and 3 chickens in a coop big enough for 20. Although I can’t even imagine that many chickens in those coops! Where would the food go? the water? the POOP BINS? But I digress.
The next part of Chicken Math is The Rooster. We don’t have a rooster. However, another Chicken Farmer at church has offered us a beautiful young Marans rooster that was supposed to be a pullet – a girl chicken, for the uninitiated. We were already planning on 10-15 more chickens in the early spring anyway and were in the process of building a third coop. The new third coop is 8’x12’=96 square feet with a very large run. Plenty of room for 15 chickens, given the 48/32/24, you pick, chickens. So the new coop is on the Fast Track for completion so the Rooster can be quarantined for 30 days, according to the non-qualified experts.
Meanwhile, we placed a pending order with a hatchery for 30 chickens, because…who knew… their minimum order per breed was 10. And nobody wants to be boring and have only one or even two breeds. But then there’s that 1 Rooster. So we have an order for 10 Buff Orpingtons, 10 Black Australorps, 10 Marans, and 10 Ameraucanas aka Easter Eggers because they lay green/blue eggs. And who can resist green eggs? with ham!
So let’s see… 10+10+10+10+1+3+7=51 chickens and 3 coops. So far. Rooster means fertile eggs, leading to broody hens hatching baby chicks… another coop?
And let’s count eggs. With 7 chickens we average about 5-6 eggs a day. 5×7=35 a week. Let’s round that up to 3 dozen eggs a week. We eat about 21 eggs a week plus a few for cooking. Let’s call it 2 dozen eggs a week. 3-2=1. When it is 40 eggs a day, 40×7=280 a week or about 22 dozen. 22-2=20. And egg colors. The Buff Orpingtons and Australorps lay brown eggs. The Marans lay very dark brown eggs. And the Ameraucanas add their splash of color. Counting potential eggs (okay to count because they are unhatched) daily next fall… 27 brown eggs, 10 dark brown eggs, and 10 green or blue eggs. Per day. 27 +10+10-3=44 And so the spiral goes!
That’s Chicken Math!
Note: if you find any actual arithmetic errors in any of the above, chalk it up to rounding. I do.