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Trillions of Chickens?

The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch:

The disappointment experienced by Russell's chicken has also been experienced by trillions of other chickens.

Is trillions accurate? How many chickens have we farmed? How do you even estimate this? My initial intuition is that it's too many.

People have estimated about 100 billion human beings have ever lived. So 3 trillion chickens would be 30 per person. Rich modern people eat more than 30 chickens in a lifetime, but most people have been much poorer. A lot of people have been farmers, but I don't know how many of them raised many chickens.

Elliot Temple on July 14, 2017

Comments (11)

Chicken Stock Info

Chicken stock info here:


In 2014, there were approx 26 billion chickens in global stock based on official data, FAO estimates, and unofficial data. In 2005, there were approx 21 billion. If the turnover rate is, say, around 40%, then that would make something like 100 billion chickens born in ten years from 2005.

In 1961, there were only 2.3 billion chickens, according to the data.

I think you're right that trillions is not accurate. 1 trillion perhaps?

Anonymous at 6:53 PM on July 16, 2017 | #8835
Look up how many chickens are killed per year.

@Anonymous: Chickens are killed at age 5-7 weeks.

Anonymous at 3:10 PM on July 17, 2017 | #8836

Maybe 150 billion chickens from 1960-1995. DD looks wrong.

Anonymous at 5:15 PM on July 17, 2017 | #8837
That's just the US.

Anonymous at 11:47 AM on July 18, 2017 | #8839
have you found stats which indicate DD is correct? if so, give a link instead of just calling other ppl wrong.

Anonymous at 11:56 AM on July 18, 2017 | #8840
#8835 Where did you get your figure? Is it a global average? Which years is it applicable to?

I did some research and saw a figure of about 9 to 10 billion chickens born per year in the last decade. That's why I reckoned on about 40%. But I think this is wrong now after finding the FAO stats. Looking at Producing Animals/Slaughtered figures for chickens, it is about 71 billion globally in 2014 and 4.3 billion in 1961. Summing over 1961 to 2014, the figure is about 860 billion.


So I think a figure of between 1 and 1.5 trillion chickens for the number of chickens to have been farmed. It won't take long to reach trillions, however.

Anonymous at 4:38 PM on July 18, 2017 | #8846
FoR was published in 1998 so a lot of the more recent chickens don't count. (for pub date, wikipedia says 1997, amazon says 1998. i don't know which is correct)

Anonymous at 4:42 PM on July 18, 2017 | #8848
#8846 i think you're using the data wrong. from your FAO link, it's 740 billion from 1961-1997. using all countries, producing animals/slaughtered, and meat, chicken. i downloaded the data, selected the whole column in Numbers, and it says 740 million and the units are 1000 head. i clicked all years and deleted the later years.

Anonymous at 4:53 PM on July 18, 2017 | #8851
Opps - you are correct. I selected the wrong range when summing. But I just noticed there is also "meat indigeneous, chicken" as well as "meat, chicken". What's the diff? If both are included then the figure is 1.5 trillion from 1961 to 1997.

Anonymous at 5:14 PM on July 18, 2017 | #8852
no idea but maybe DD's right then.

Anonymous at 5:16 PM on July 18, 2017 | #8853
Yeah, looks like he is.

Anonymous at 5:19 PM on July 18, 2017 | #8854

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)