If you’ve taken the plunge and decided to raise chickens, you’ve probably noticed that they can be very noisy! Until recently, it was believed that chickens have no language, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Recent developments indicate that chickens ‘talk’ with their flock and can make over 24 distinct sounds with different meanings. Below are 11 reasons why your hens might be kicking up a racket!
1.Different Breeds Have Different Personalities
Your chickens’ breed is one of the most significant factors in determining how loud they will be. Some breeds, like the Polish and Easter Eggers, are known to be louder than others. If you are concerned about noise levels, there are some quieter breeds such as Silkies or Cochins.
Do some research on breeds before purchasing your chickens, especially if you live in an area where these sounds will be frowned upon.
Like all other flock birds, chickens establish a pecking order that determines their place in the social order. A dominant chicken will be louder than an inferior chicken, especially in times of danger or when it comes to getting her way. Even if you get a quieter breed of chicken, you can expect quite a bit of noise from higher-ranking hens, especially if there is no rooster present.
Personality is a big factor in your chicken’s noise level. A grumpier bird will be louder than a happy one, and, even if a hen is from a louder breed, they may still be shy and quiet.
Ask the breeder about your chicken’s personality before you buy it if you’re able. They may be able to give you some insight into what behaviors you can expect.
No matter what breed of chicken you have, all chicken coops should be insulated. Find out how to keep a warm flock in my post here.
2.A Rooster in the Mix Makes for a Noisy Brood
Adding a rooster to your flock will automatically make your chickens louder. This is because of the unique relationship that hens have with roosters.
Your chickens are operating purely on instinct as if they were still in the wild, and will your rooster will try to guide, protect, and mate with your hens. Having both sexes present can make for some completely natural, but loud, social interactions.
Some people choose not to keep roosters at all because of the increased noise level, but others think it’s worth it for the hens to have an everyday social life. If you live in an urban area, be sure to check local your local government before getting a rooster.
Some cities don’t allow you to have roosters because of the noise level. If you’re able to get one, do yourself a favor and let your neighbors know what to expect.
3.Chickens Like a Morning Greeting
Do you notice that your chickens are up and clucking first thing in the morning? That’s totally normal! Chickens will greet each other when they wake up, much like humans do. This isn’t as noisy as the crowing of a rooster and should sound good-natured.
Some people have noticed that if they say good morning to their chickens, they seem to respond, or will squawk irritably if they are late to the coop! It is unclear how much language chickens understand, but they do understand that we are trying to communicate and may cluck in response.
To see all the other reasons why your chickens are so noisy in the morning like wanting to leave the coop and stretch their legs see my post.
If you have a rooster on the property, you already know they will crow loudly to greet the dawn. However, it may still be dark out when they begin! This is because some roosters begin crowing based on their circadian rhythm instead of when they actually see the light. This can make your rooster begin crowing up to two hours before sunrise.
Your rooster may also crow if they see a light that they mistake for the sun, like a streetlamp or large garage light. If you are raising chickens in the country, this won’t be a big issue. However, if you are keeping backyard chickens, you may want to try to keep your rooster in the dark, or away from bright lights.
Speaking of light, do chickens need light at night? See my post to find out. Do you give your chickens access to food and water at night? Is it important? I wrote about the topic in detail in my blog post here.
4.Chickens Love to Gossip
Chickens are social animals, and they communicate with each other just like we do. Coop chatter is the regular, day-to-day noise that your hens use to communicate with each other. This noise will vary in volume depending on the temperament and number of your chickens but is usually not too disruptive.
Many people notice a soft clucking from a group of chickens as they move across the yard. Gentle murmuring amongst them is a good sign- it means that you have happy chickens!
If your chicken likes to be held in your lap, you will notice they make the same quiet, contented sounds as they do in the yard with their flockmates.
Like humans, chickens will have disagreements, and you may hear the occasional squawk and squabble in the yard. It should calm down on its own after a minute or so. If the noises sound distressed or get louder, check on your hens – there could be something seriously wrong.
Sometimes a verbal chicken disagreement can become physical to know the causes of chickens fights and to stop them from happening see my post.
5.Chickens Warn One Another of Possible Predators
While hens are social animals, they move together in a flock for more than social reasons. It is also a protection mechanism – they can call back and forth to each other to warn of potential danger.
If one sounds the alarm, they can all hear it and flee. If your hens seem distressed, especially at night, this could indicate that there is danger in the area. See the above video for a rooster distress call in action.
There are two distinct calls that chickens use to alert their flockmates to danger. They are typically made by roosters but can be made by a dominant hen if there is no rooster on the property.
If you hear a repetitive cluck that gets louder and faster, then this is indicative of a ground predator such as a cat or fox. If there is an aerial predator like a hawk in the area, the chickens will make an air raid sound that lets them know to take cover.
If a chicken has been captured and carried off by a predator, they will make a long, high-pitched squawk. If you hear these noises, it is crucial to investigate immediately. Sometimes the mere presence of a human will scare away predators, even if you can’t see them.
6.Chickens Get Excited When They Find Food
Hens and roosters will let each other know when they’ve found food by making a rapid tuk-tuk-tuk sound. These dull clicking noises usually occur when they have found a special treat outside of their usual feed. Chickens may also squabble over food, especially if you introduce a new feed. Please do your best to distribute food evenly and keep them from fighting too much.
Mother hens will also use these noises to guide their chicks to food. These sounds let her babies know that the food is safe to eat and may be accompanied by instructions from the momma bird on how to eat it. If you are raising a baby chick away from its mother, you can replicate this noise when you prompt it to eat.
Do your chickens eat pellets or crumbles? Find out if pellets are a good chicken food choice in my blog here.
7.Laying Eggs is a Noisy Activity
Egg noises are the most common chicken sounds that you’ll hear. Egg laying is a serious business, and your chickens treat it as such! Chickens will make distinct noises during different phases of egg-laying, all of which are normal and can reveal a lot about the personality of your chickens.
You may hear some grumbling while your chicken is waiting for an available egg box, or if their favorite nest box is taken. Some chickens are more particular and impatient than others and won’t lay in any old box! There may be a sound like squabbling if there are two chickens that want to use the same one, but this noise will stop when the more dominant chicken gets her way.
The Egg Song
Hens are very proud after they’ve laid an egg, and they like to let everyone know they’ve accomplished their task. The song chickens sing after they lay an egg is a distinct one and something you’ll come to know well as a chicken owner.
This noise is called the egg song and will often sound like a loud, cackling sound. Sometimes her sisters will join in the song, and the whole hen house will be singing! Chickens will also make this noise if they see an unattended egg in another hen’s nest.
There are many different theories about why hens sing after laying. Some think that they are proudly announcing their accomplishment to the world.
Others believe that they are trying to protect their young by moving away from their laying spot and clucking to distract predators. We may never know why hens sing the egg song, but you can expect to hear the triumphant clucking after every lay!
8.Broody Hens are Loud
A hen that is sitting on fresh-laid eggs can often become defensive and moody. These broody hens are surging with hormones. Broody hens will snap at other hens, roosters -and even people if they get too close to their eggs.
If you or another chicken gets too close to her nest, a broody hen will make a scream or growl like noise. This is a warning to whoever is infringing on her privacy to back away.
If a broody hen feels unsafe, she may take things to the next level to scare off the perceived threat to her eggs. She might scream, hiss, or puff up her body to look bigger. Be careful if you hear these sounds – a broody hen is likely to give a swift peck to protect her young!
A broody hen will only get off her eggs about once a day, and during that time, she will be even more aggressive. She will cluck at everyone in sight and seem annoyed while she is away from eggs.
All of the clucking is because she’s anxious to get back. If you have a mind to, you can keep their food and water near them to limit the time spent off the nest.
If your chickens is particularly on edge it’s useful to know techniques to calm your chicken down, see my post here on how to do exactly that.
9.Mama Chickens Talk to their Babies
Much like in human development, hens and their chicks need to communicate as early as possible. They begin before the chick is hatched, with the mother hen making soft clicks and purring noises at her egg.
This will allow her chick to identify her voice amongst the others once it has hatched and helps the two bond.
Once the chick is preparing to hatch, you might hear them responding to their mother with soft, muffled cheeps. The mother then clucks back, reassuring them that it is safe to come out. This may go on for some time, or it may not happen at all – it depends on the hen and chick.
Once the eggs are hatched, mommas make different noises to teach and protect their chicks. Most of these are lessons on how to eat, bathe, and care for themselves.
They are also teaching their chicks about pecking order and protecting them from danger. Some studies indicate that mothers will change their tone when they communicate with their chicks, speaking slower to
Chicks communicate back with their mother, letting them know if they are hungry, cold, or in danger. Soft, happy peeps mean that they are content, where loud, urgent peeps can indicate problems.
It is VERY important your baby chickens have access to grit as without it they cannot break down food properly, for a guide on everything to do with grit and chicks see my post.
Chick noises are especially essential to listen to if you are raising chicks without a mother hen. They will tell you whether they are happy and safe or if there is something wrong.
Baby chicks should be raised in at least a group of three as otherwise they can suffer both physically and mentally learn more about how to socialise your baby chicks via my post.
10.Chickens Alert Others that They’re Looking for a Mate
Like many other animals, chickens have designated mating rituals that let both sexes know the other is interested. During courtship, roosters will make low deep rumbling sounds that indicate that they are ready to mate. This noise will often accompany other courtship movements like circling and showing their feathers.
It’s not uncommon to hear this noise several times a day when chickens are ready to mate. Hens will usually not make noise during courtship unless a rooster scares or surprises them. Then they will make a shrill, scream-like noise out of surprise.
11.Chickens Get Loud Before They Go to Sleep
After a long day, it’s time for your chickens to settle in for the night – but they aren’t entirely done ‘talking’! It’s very common for chickens to make roosting calls once they are in the coop for the night. They will be low-pitched, gentle sounds, and should not last very long.
If you have a rooster on the property, he may make a roosting call in the early evening to get your hens to make for the coop. This is kind of a roll call sound to make sure that all of the hens are accounted for and know that it is time for rest.
This call may be loud and repetitive, but should still be lower in pitch than a sound that indicates danger.
To see the other 11 reasons why chickens are so loud see my post.
Can I Make My Chickens Quiet?
Are your noisy chickens driving you crazy?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a silent chicken. Some hens may be shyer than others, and ones that are lower on the pecking order will be quieter than their dominant counterparts, but all chickens will make noise at some point.
If a bird is quiet, especially if she is usually a chatty bird, then there is likely something wrong, such as illness or injury.
However, there are a few things that you can do to make your chickens a little quieter:
- If you notice that your chickens are fighting over the same things, try to accommodate them. Get more egg boxes if you notice frequent squabbles over them, or spread out the food more if you notice they are fighting to overfeed.
- Extra protection from predators may be necessary if your chickens are often making distress calls. Look into fencing or other ways to secure your coop. If you live in an area with a lot of predators, be extra attentive to your chickens.
- In extreme cases, you can consider ‘training’ your chickens. This usually involves spraying your chicken with water when they are making noise, to encourage them to be quiet. Training is generally not recommended because your hens will ignore their instincts and may not alert you if a predator is around.
These simple steps can help mitigate some noise, but it will not make your chickens completely quiet. Chickens are not quiet animals, plain and simple. But that’s also part of what makes them so wonderful.
Chickens are particularly noisy in the mornings especially if you have a rooster! To understand all the other reasons why they make such a morning ruckus check my post.
Chickens need to communicate with each other for their safety and development, so some noise is healthy. Pay attention to what noises they make this will help you bond with your chickens and let you know if they are injured or endangered.