Understanding chicken sounds takes time and training. As with any other species of animals, chickens have a language that’s all their own. It may be hard for humans to understand it at first but by paying attention and being in tune with your chickens, you can gain a pretty good idea of what chickens are trying to communicate. Whether a hen is getting ready to lay her eggs or there is danger approaching, there is no denying the distinct differences in the message that is being sent from the chicken to the owner. No matter how loud or annoying the sounds may be, there is a purpose for each unique noise and we will discuss a few of them here.
Distinct Chicken Sounds and Their Meanings
There is power in listening. By taking a moment to decipher the noise of your chickens, you will be able to recognize what your chicken is communicating and what they need from you.
1. The Egg Song
One of the more common sounds is when hens are preparing to lay their eggs. There are a variety of noises that will come from the hen house before, during and after a hen lays her eggs. When chickens are waiting for a nest box, there may be agitated sounds of grumbling if they find their favorite nesting box is occupied. Usually, the sounds quickly end when the more dominant hen gets her desired box. Some hen owners have reported that their hens make a “Bawk Bawk” sound. Others have stated that the sound is more of a “bokbokBagok” sound. After a hen deposits her eggs, other hens join in on the egg song as a form of celebration.
2. Coop Noises
Roosters are not the only chickens that rise and shine with a loud good morning. Chickens will make noises in the morning as well. The sound resembles that of a regular “Cluck Cluck”. The morning noises are a bit rambunctious and are a chicken’s way of saying how do you do to each other and you. In the evening the sounds are a bit more subdued and a reflection of the chickens winding down for the day.
3. Broody Growls
This sound is a very distinctive way a chicken will tell you to back off. After a hen has laid her eggs, she will sit on them and wait for them to hatch. If a hen feels threatened or agitated, she will growl at you warning you to get away. The growl is similar to that of a dog’s growl and can turn into a full-blown tantrum if the message is not received. If the growl doesn’t inspire an individual to go away, the hen will puff up her feathers and peck at you to leave. A broody hen will also display the same behavior when she has to leave her eggs to grab a bite to eat or a drink. If she is away from them too long, she sends a broody growl letting the others know to get out of her way so she can get back to her eggs.
4. Happy Murmuring
Chickens will make soft peeps and trills to show contentment. If they are hanging out and grazing, they will make these noises to send out signals to the others that are in earshot of each other. This confirms that everyone is happy, safe and doing their own thing.
5. Predator Alerts
These sounds of panic can be slightly different in tone and pitch but they all mean the same thing – danger. High loud shrills are usually common for roosters to issue a predator warning. It is not uncommon for a dominant hen to alert the group as well. These sounds could be a singular noise, a piercing call or an elongated bellow. A caution call is more repeated tones that do not signal imminent danger, but it is a warning that chickens send to each other informing them to be alert. The stronger repeated cackles signal a predator is nearby and to be on the lookout. The final predator alert is the air raid noise that sounds most alarming and is the sound that will get you out of your chair and straight to the coop. This noise is extremely loud and signals that the flock is in imminent danger. Most often, it will signify that a raccoon has gotten into the coop or that a hawk is circling overhead.
6. Food Signals
When food is near, all of the hens will know. Chickens will make a series of dull clucking noises to notify the others that the food has arrived. This noise is associated more with tastier meals such as mealworms. A hen will use this noise to let her chicks know that she has found food for them.
7. Roosting Calls
When it is time to go to bed, roosters will give succinct and loud calls letting everyone know it is time to go to bed. Depending on the breed, some roosters will walk around the coop until all of the hens are safely inside. Even though the sounds are loud, they are low pitched and repetitive.
8. Mating Invitations
The low, deep and rumbly sounds are a sign that a rooster is ready for action. This sound is an indication he is ready to mate. Coupled with him circling the hen with his wings flicking on the ground, the sound is a tale sign that love is in the air. If a hen doesn’t see the rooster approaching, she will emit sharp cries of surprise. Don’t be taken by surprise if you see this type of activity several times a day.
9. Distress Calls
A distress call doesn’t always mean there is the presence of a predator. A sharp squawk noise is an indication that a chicken has been pecked or injured. If a chicken has been captured and is being taken away from the flock, they can emit a long and high pitched cry
Parenting and Chick Noises
There are certain ways a mother communicates with her babies. Whether a chick is still in the egg or they have hatched, a mother is constantly communicating with her young chicks.
10. Chicks in the Eggs
Just like a mother talks to her baby while she is pregnant, a chicken will also communicate with her chicks while they are still in the eggs. The chicken sound is done quietly through clucking and purring. It is usually done while the chicken is sitting on the eggs waiting for them to hatch and is a way for the young chicks to become familiar with mommy’s voice. When the young chicks are in their final stage of incubation, you can hear them communicating back.
11. The Baby Chicks
The communication between chicken and baby chicks continues after the young chicks have been hatched. The soft purrs of mom’s voice teach the baby chicks about the pecking order, and how to eat, drink and bathe themselves. A mother will slow her chatter if she finds that one of her young chicks are not learning as they should.
12. Baby in Distress
There are certain chicken sounds young chicks make when they are in distress. The sound of a distressed chick is frantic peeps notifying mom that something is wrong. When a chicken hears this noise she will rush to rescue her young chick. If a chicken senses danger near her flock, she will emit a soft “grrrrrrrr” or a low pitched clucking sound to let her babies know to be still or come to her for safety.
How Can I Keep My Chickens Quiet?
There may not be an obedience school for chickens but there are certain tactics an owner can use to train them to be quiet. A simple spray bottle filled with water is an excellent way to train your chicken to be quiet. This tactic would be used the same way you would with a dog. Every time a chicken begins their rant, tell the chicken to stop and spray it with the water. They should relate the unpleasant spray with the action and stop.
Some chickens are a little harder to break. A method that is more effective with tougher chickens is a water hose. When the chicken noises begin, spray the hose at the chicken. This should discourage any further noises.
Since roosters tend to make more noise than hens, it may be better to stick with hens only. There are some cities and towns that have restricted the ownership of roosters to only one rooster or none at all. Having a hen-only flock can significantly reduce the amount of noise.
Another way for a quieter existence with chickens is to soundproof the chicken coop. Typically, wood is used for a coop’s construction. You can consider other materials such as brick or stucco. Building a brick structure and lining the interior with stucco is a great way to soundproof the coop and keep enough ventilation for the chickens.
What Are the Quietest Chicken Breeds?
Believe it or not, chickens do have the ability to be quiet. Some breeds are inherently quiet. You don’t have to worry about the unpleasant noises at 6 am or the nasty looks from the neighbors because of loud chicken noises.
This breed of chicken is great meat birds and egg layers. They have calm and friendly personalities and are considered true pets. They like to be picked up and cuddled and are not afraid to wander to you for attention.
Rhode Island Reds
This breed has a docile and quiet personality. While they are not prone to cuddling, they are easily trained and get along well with other breeds of chickens.
This chicken breed is the most common for owners in suburban areas due to their quiet nature. They lay eggs nearly year-round and come in a wide variety of different colors.
Barred Rock Plymouth
While this chicken breed is quiet, they are very friendly and outgoing and are not afraid to interact with humans. They lay large brown eggs and are considered a favorite among farmers and homeowners with small to moderate-sized farms.
This quiet breed lays smaller white eggs and has an exceptional maternal Instinct. They’re often used as sitters for the Rhode Island Reds who are considered poor sitters.
This breed of chicken is considered the “King of Poultry” due to its enormous size. Their weight ranges from 10 pounds up to 18 pounds. This breed is considered dependable white egg layers between October through May.
This quiet breed is considered a Heritage Breed. They are mediocre layers but have superb maternal and surrogate skills.
Known for their peaceful, calm and very quiet personalities, this breed is good for laying and sitting.
This breed of chicken has a dignified and quiet personality. They tend to do best in a small flock environment and are dependable layers and average sitters.
This breed is known for having a quiet, calm and docile personality. As long as they do not feel threatened, they are easy to handle. They lay medium-sized light blue eggs and have an average weight of approximately 7pounds.
Wrapping Things Up…
Birds have their language and way of communicating. Even though there are some breeds of chicken that are quieter than others, there is a need for them to communicate at some point. All birds will make some type of noises throughout the day to vocalize how they are feeling or if they are in danger. As a chicken owner, it is important to be able to decipher what those noises mean to guide you in how to take care of your flock.