Friday, December 13, 2013

Chicken math

Chickens can do math. 

I know, it's hard to believe, but stick with me.  When I'm collecting eggs I always leave an egg or two in the nest to remind the chickens to lay their eggs there again, because chickens, while they can't count, do know the different between zero eggs and some eggs. 

But there's a second number that a chicken cares about -- it's between 10 and a dozen.  If I don't collect the eggs, the chickens will look at them, and when they get a bunch of eggs, about a dozen, they'll start to sit on them to try to hatch them. 

It's been pretty consistent with the heritage breeds, like the barred rock, a little less so with the white leghorns (the chicken in the picture at the start of this post) and I just realized this today. 

Chickens can count.   Here's chicken math:     0, (some eggs) 12


5 comments:

Jack said...

When we raised layers at JACK'S FARM I frequently wondered whether they were the smartest or dumbest animals on earth...

SmithGang said...

Where is the like buttons when I need one lol

Jacqueline Jones said...

This is so true. I mark a few (2 or 3) eggs that I'm going to leave out in the boxes. If I don't they start looking for somewhere else to lay. The times I wanted to entice the girls to try and set eggs, I left 11 marked eggs in the box. It's worked twice now.

themsgoodeatin.com said...

I have experienced the same thing. The urge to sit on a good amount (like a dozen) is strong with the dual purpose heritage breeds----I noticed it with Barred and Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Islands, Americanas and Australorps. I never had that problem with Leghorns though. They really were always too high strung to want to sit on eggs. These days I always leave some golf balls in nest boxes to encourage the placement of eggs and discourage the curiosity that ultimately leads to an egg-eater.

Unknown said...

Have you noticed any correlation between the time of year and the hens' willingness to set? We got our flock in October (rescued from a farm going out of business), and while we've had nests with more than a dozen, nobody's setting. It's a mixed flock of over a half dozen breeds; there's bound to be SOMEBODY that will go broody. Eventually. Maybe they're just waiting for warmer weather?