Conversation with my wife this evening came around to the issue of keeping track of numbers of livestock.
At present we have three chickens. We can see in a moment whether or not all three are in their space.
But what about fifty, or a hundred chickens? When you are keeping those kinds of numbers (not thousands, but more than a couple of dozen), do you actually keep a count? How often? And, to the heart of the matter, if you do, How do you?
I have a hard time imagining counting fifty or more chickens going about their daily business.
Insight from those with lots of chickens would be appreciated.
I'm a noob, but I have 60 chicks in the garage (roughly 60). It's tough to accurately count bouncing peepers. I got a count once, when they were calm, but not bunched together sleeping. I usually get a 'rough count' every few days, or I'll try to count the numbers of individuals of a particular breed (I got 3). Counting 20 is easier than 60. They turn 6 weeks in a few days, so I'm gonna get an accurate count when I move them to the tractor next week. I'll try to get a sex count, but some of them still confuse me as to being a cockerel or pullet.
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
I have no idea how many layers I have currently. Probably about 50-60 more than I should because I have not culled out the 3-5 year old hens mixed in. The layers are pretty much fully free ranging so they get picked off by predators occasionally. If I go back into serious egg production I will have to tighten things up considerably there.
I have a fairly good idea of how many broilers I have. I have 95-100 on pasture at the moment. I have 201 week and a half old ones in brooders and 307 that came in yesterday. Broilers get counted when they go into the brooder, when they go onto pasture, and when they get loaded for processing. I try to keep a rough count of any loses between times and am usually fairly good about marking any down.
Location: Fennville MI
posted 6 years ago
Paul, your comments seem to support what I would expect to be a common approach, that tracking larger numbers is more a subtractive process. i.e., you order 300 chicks, they arrive and you verify you received 300 chicks, over the next several weeks in the brooder you lose 3, so you're at 297.
When they go from brooder to coop, it is a chance for an accurate count - hopefully 297 and you did not have more losses that you never saw evidence of (?!).
And from there on, for the most part it's a matter of subtracting when you find a dead chicken, and keeping a tally that way, until with the broilers it is processing time and of course you get an accurate count there.
And with a laying flock, you might add x many every couple of years and cull y many every couple of years and you would have good numbers on how many you put out there and how many you culled, but if a predator grabs one or two and makes off with them now and then, unless they leave the bodies where you find them, they might not be accounted for.
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 6 years ago
joseph wittenberg wrote:Count them while they sleep. We have 3 different coops and I have learned how many sleep in each coop and find it way easier to count when they aren't bouncing around.
Precisely. That's about the only way to get better than a ball-park estimate before they get to the slaughter shed.
It's next to impossible to count 100ish birds when they are running in random directions.
Night time is about the only time that they stay still for more than a few seconds.
I currently have 90 hens. I count them once a week or there abouts just so that I'll know if I'm having a hawk problem. If the local hawks are active, then the hens stay in their pen for two weeks until the hawks learn to hunt elsewhere. As Joseph said, count them at night. It's the only way when you have a goodly number.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit