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Counting chickens

A new method of counting chickens
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Many years ago I was a junior audit clerk and one of our audits happened to be a very large chicken farm. One of the prinicple activities of an audit is a stock take and consequentially the chickens have to be counted. At this farm there were at any one time approximately 400,000 chickens and, as the junior, I was inevitably assigned the task of counting the chickens. I completed the task but it got me thinking at the time that there must be a better way of doing it and I came up with a, dare I say it, brilliant solution that I have never told anybody about until now. Name all the chickens! The biggest problem is that they wont stand still and ignore your requests and that's because they don't have names. If they had names you could have a roll call with chickens clucking when they hear their names called.
The_Saint, Nov 12 2009

The Nine Billion Names of God http://downlode.org...n_names_of_god.html
By Arthur C Clarke [8th of 7, Nov 13 2009, last modified Dec 02 2015]

For [Ian] http://www.brokenli...kens-batteries.html
You of little faith! The battery is the one charged by the generator connected to the turnstile. You could use it to power a little hand-counter. [pertinax, Nov 15 2009]

[link]






       I'd run them through a pen with a weighing scale and then divide by the average poundage of chicken
po, Nov 12 2009
  

       The problem is that they're moving about. Cook'em first.
Jinbish, Nov 12 2009
  

       They don't come when called because they don't have names which is why they need names.
The_Saint, Nov 12 2009
  

       have they hatched yet?
po, Nov 12 2009
  

       Hellllooooooo little chickie, (:> come on over here, I'll protect yooooou from the big mean world.   

       BWWAMMMOOO! Good that's over. They are now, po.
blissmiss, Nov 12 2009
  

       //BWWAMMMOOO! Good that's over. They are now, po.// marked for tagline!
po, Nov 12 2009
  

       Why not give them numeric designations ? it works fine for us (although we are waaay smarter than chickens, and most ducks)
8th of 7, Nov 12 2009
  

       Just teach them all to come to separate whistles.   

       I did consider the possibility of teaching a sheep dog to count them and he could bark out the answer afterwards but I was worried that he may try to lighten the load by eating them.
The_Saint, Nov 13 2009
  

       I could call them one by one into my Shuddering Pickled Chicken Dispenser.   

       (All 400.000 of them.)
skinflaps, Nov 13 2009
  

       I like the whistling idea. What if each chicken responded to a particular pitch? Then you could have a continuous whistle with a pitch gradient through an entire octave and the chickens would sound off the whole way through. Fast and trippy chicken music.
daseva, Nov 13 2009
  

       Now, pardon me for asking, how would you honestly name them all? I don't believe there are really 400,000 unique names. You would end up with about 15,000 names for each letter of the alphabet assuming you could come up with as many names for 'X'. You would resort to made up names or numbers. In my own city of about 600,000 I know for a fact that there are at least two other people that share my first and last name. John Smith is a bit more repetitive.   

       The easiest solution would be to hold a census and have them each drop a hefty wing feather into a box. Monitors would ensure that the feather was an adequate size and that each chicken dropped in only one. Bed checkers would make sure that every chicken was in line and stayed in line. For 4CK chickens, you'd probably need a couple of census stations. You then empty the boxes into a special feather counter that would tally them within the accuracy of a Florida hanging chad.
bdag, Nov 13 2009
  

       The issue of finding names is valid however there is one bit I didn't mention (I can hear the tutting from here) - the chickens live in 20 different sheds, 20,000 to a shed so repeats are okay as long as they aren't in the same shed. Also they would, of course, have surnames. I like bigsleep's suggestion. Chardonay Masala has a nice ring to it, Bud Supreme is catchy but Creme De Menthe Cordon Bleu sounds a bit poncy and Meths Tonight is just sloppy. Originally I thought of using the Germanic system of surnames indicating where they came from but then I realised they would all be called Van Egg. The English system of naming them after their vocation didn't help much either - Jenny Food and Sally Egglayer was about as far as I got never mind that they would then start hyphentaing their names to sound posh and you'd end up with a Henrietta Egglayer-Food.
The_Saint, Nov 13 2009
  

       [bdag], maybe you should be a bit careful about this naming thing ... you may get more than you expect ....   

       <link>
8th of 7, Nov 13 2009
  

       A fabulous link borgmeister. Clarke is great stuff. Thankfully we're not naming 9 billion chickens. I had thought about using a technical approach to naming such as the monks noted but it still seemed too random or cumbersome. I stand by my feather census.
bdag, Nov 13 2009
  

       Just count the beaks and divide by one.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 13 2009
  

       put a camera in the rafters, make a chicken-attention-getting noise, then have software count beaks.
FlyingToaster, Nov 13 2009
  

       Having also been involved in audit ("There should be thirty fire engines here, where are the other three please?"), I see a major flaw with this problem. One that any prisoner of war camp guard could have pointed out, and it's this. Chicken conspiracy. What do you do if chickens start swapping places in the line and answering to other chickens names whilst 20,000 of their fellow inmates are driving motorbikes and light airplanes desperately towards the Swiss border?
DrBob, Nov 13 2009
  

       calling bullshit on the whole thing.
WcW, Nov 14 2009
  

       [WcW] 'The whole thing', really? I don't think you will have enough bullshit.
wjt, Nov 14 2009
  

       ok, just the "counting the chickens" bit. complete fabrication.
WcW, Nov 14 2009
  

       Chicken fabrication? So now [The_Saint] has to call roll, grab the little chickies, flip 'em over, and verify the "Made in South Africa" sticker on their bottoms?
lurch, Nov 14 2009
  

       //flip 'em over,//   

       Barcode them.
skinflaps, Nov 14 2009
  

       RFID tags shirley?
kaz, Nov 14 2009
  

       That would be good, because you could shoot those little ID chips into them from an air rifle, using a suitable discarding sabot.
8th of 7, Nov 14 2009
  

       ... or you could accomplish it from the door of the barn with a 6k round per minute Gatling gun
Jinbish, Nov 14 2009
  

       Isn't that just a very good way to end up counting feathers?
kaz, Nov 14 2009
  

       nobody who runs a 400k poultry operation counts their eggs before they hatch, or their hens before they die.
WcW, Nov 14 2009
  

       // Gatling gun //   

       The risk would be multiple hits on the same bird. No, this is definitely a job for a trained sniper.   

       // cheap to bribe //   

       Yes, but as soon as they've got some campaigning funds, they'd sneak away and stand for public office.
8th of 7, Nov 14 2009
  

       [WcW], I doubt I'd do business with you.   

       "I'd like to buy some eggs."
"OK, that'll be 34 euros."
"Er, no, I don't want that many, can I just get a dozen?"
"Nope, it's just by the box."
"How many are in the box?"
"No clue. They're not hatched, so we didn't count 'em."
lurch, Nov 14 2009
  

       See. Now a pullet operation is different from an egg operation. Difference being that in one the eggs are FERTILE in the other not. Crucial I suspect.
WcW, Nov 15 2009
  

       Two runs
small turnstile
... linked to a generator
Chase 'em all from one run into the other.
Then time how long it takes for the battery to run down.
pertinax, Nov 15 2009
  

       …using those well known and widely published look-up tables that equate battery life with quantity of poultry.
Ian Tindale, Nov 15 2009
  

       Have you never heard of battery chickens, [IT] ?
8th of 7, Nov 15 2009
  

       Better solution, you say there are about 400,000 chickens, so all you need to do is lock yourself in the chicken shed for about a week with a good book and some snacks, then on the finally day, step out and confidently proclaim "There are 425,647 chickens in that there shed"!
MikeOliver, Nov 15 2009
  

       But you've still got to watch for the strutting cock that comes along "organizing" them in the name of fairness, when all along he plans to subjugate the hens and saddle them with high taxes.
dentworth, Nov 15 2009
  

       The farm will be handed over to the chickens, who will lay eggs, to each according to ability and for each according to need.
Ian Tindale, Nov 15 2009
  

       Four legs good, two legs better ?
8th of 7, Nov 15 2009
  

       you just broke my cynicism meter [Ian].
WcW, Nov 15 2009
  

       Or should that be "Two eggs good, four eggs better" ?
8th of 7, Nov 15 2009
  

       Chickens WILL come when called. On my grandparents farm, we would call out "Here chick, chick" and they would come a-running from all around the yard.   

       You could train a few hundred at a time to come to a certain call.   

       Here Louie, Louie, Move Moe, Moe, Hey Jude, Jude, etc
outloud, Nov 15 2009
  
      
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