The more chickens in a farm the more crap and the fewer eggs.

This is a proverb I hear often in Spanish (Cuba). I think it is pretty much self-explained: it is related to productivity and the negative effect of a workplace/task with too many people.

Is there a similar phrase in English? I googled this one and got nothing.

  • 1
    It's codified in the law of diminishing returns. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 15 '13 at 15:45
  • I'm curious. Is the proverb "The more hens...," "The more roosters...," or is the gender of the flock automatically male because of the presence of a single rooster? – rajah9 Mar 15 '13 at 17:24
  • In spanish the masculine plural includes both genders (although in some contexts it is considered of good manners to specify both). I like the shorter way, is nicer The Kingdom of Men than The Kingdom of Men and Women, so chickens in this case would be both, is just a parabole for people working. – MGP Mar 15 '13 at 18:07
  • Actually this case is one of the few exceptions to the male gender rule, gallinas (chickens) is the feminine, and includes boths. The male (rooster) is gallo. The original proverb in spanish is A más gallinas en la granja más porquería y menos huevos – MGP Mar 15 '13 at 18:13
  • @EdwinAshworth: It's nothing really to do with the Law of Diminishing Returns. That deals with the idea that as you saturate a market, only the people who said no before are left to sell to. This suggests a relative decrease in productivity caused by overloading a resource. – Carl Smith Mar 15 '13 at 21:54

There's Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Everyone has a hand in the pot, so to speak, and what comes out is inedible.

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A Chinese proverb at thinkexist probably comes closest to the intended meaning:

An overcrowded chicken farm produces fewer eggs.

In English, the word “chicken” has no gender attached. Per spanishdict.com, in Spanish we have “gallina (f) (bird); pollo (m) (meat)”. A gallina translation like “The more hens, the fewer eggs” would be parallel to the Chinese proverb. “The more roosters, the more crap and the fewer eggs” has a chance of being true if roosters crowd out hens. (Roosters don't lay eggs.)

Another saying like Too many cooks spoil the broth is Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. This also might apply if roosters have crowded out hens.

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  • Had no idea chicken was genderless, in spanish we put gender to everything, even inanimated objects. The too many chiefs is also perfect for many cases. – MGP Mar 15 '13 at 16:34
  • @xr09 Gendered terms are hen/pullet for a female, and rooster/cock for the male. The latter usage of cock is relatively uncommon. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Mar 15 '13 at 16:56
  • @xr09: Either too many "chiefs", or too many "chefs" – it seems like the same negative effect happens for both. :^) – J.R. Mar 15 '13 at 17:55
  • I'd be careful about saying, "too many chiefs and not enough Indians". It is possible that you would hurt the feelings of the person you are talking to. It is likely that you would damage your own reputation. – Nick Mar 16 '13 at 4:13

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