Share A Sheep

The Problem:

Old MacDonald had a farm. You’ve probably heard someone sing about it.

Anyway, the time came when Jim (as his wife called him) decided to share out his livestock between his three sons, so they could become independent to some degree.

(His daughter worked in the City for a firm of Stockbrokers. She didn’t like livestock.)

Now, Jim had always said that he would divide up his livestock by giving his eldest son a half share, his middle son a quarter share, and his youngest son a fifth share

The trouble was – Old MacDonald only had 19 sheep, and he didn’t want to seem unfair to any of his sons, but he didn’t want to end up cutting any sheep either...

It was clear he couldn’t solve this one on his own, so his neighbour, Old MacDuff, offered Jim one of his own sheep to make the numbers a bit easier.

Can you work your way through the calculations, and say whether MacDuff’s extra sheep helped out?

Old MacDonald then gave the spare sheep back to his neighbour…

Try to explain where the trick in this Problem lies. How can the solution work?!

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Last modified: June 18, 2007