If you’re blessed to have a large Suburban backyard in a busy metropolitan town, then raising a hens-only flock is the best option to avoid noise disruptions that are caused by crowing roosters. But imagine even after such an attempt, you suddenly hear a crow that sounds like that of a rooster? Well, in this case, you’re likely to scratch your head in surprise and ask yourself questions such as “do hens crow?”
To answer this question, let me say that hens can crow. However, their crow is not as loud as that of roosters. Although hens are only known to crackle and chirp, they can sometimes crow due to several reasons. So, in this guide, we’re going to discuss some of the reasons that cause hens to crow. We’ll also discuss how to stop hens from crowing and the different sounds they make and their meanings.
Can Hens Crow Like Roosters?
Yes, they can. However, it’s considered rare and unusual. In fact, most people don’t talk about it as most are yet to experience such a thing. But, if you’re a chicken enthusiast that has raised chickens for a long time, then you may have experienced hens crowing.
Another situation that can make you experience hens crow is when you’re raising a backyard flock that consists of Rhode Island Reds, Leghorn, and the Longcrower. Hens from these breeds are well known for crowing. Lastly, if your hens are crowing, then there are specific reasons behind it, which we’re going to discuss in our next section.
Reasons for Crowing Your Hens
Now that your hens are crowing, the most obvious thing to do is to find out why this is happening. The first step you should take, before anything else, is to confirm that your flock consists of hens and not roosters.
Unless you bought sex-links chickens from the hatchery, other breeds are quite hard to distinguish males from females when they’re a day old. Therefore, it’s easy to end up with a few roosters in the flock instead of hens-only. Otherwise, here are some scientific facts that explain why hens crow.
1. To Imitate Roosters
The first reason that tends to answer the question “why do hens crow” is when one of your hens tries to imitate a rooster. This mostly happens if you previously owned a rooster. However, this is a rare case and you shouldn’t worry about it. But, if you live in a neighborhood where rooster crows are strictly prohibited, then you might need to isolate the hen.
2. Pecking Order
Pecking order is also referred to as chicken hierarchy. Unless you own a commercial chicken farm, raising a backyard flock means that your chickens will establish a pecking order at some point. If the flock consists of both hens and roosters, the alpha rooster will be at the top of the pecking order.
But, supposing you don’t have a rooster in the flock? Then it means the strongest and older hens will take over the reign and dominance over the lower-ranking members of the flock.
In this case, the alpha hen will display masculine traits and behaviors that include bullying weaker hens, showing signs of aggression, and finally, crowing like a rooster to establish her territory. While it’s fine for the hens to crow, cases of bullying and extreme aggression should not be tolerated in the coop.
3. Hormonal Imbalance
This condition come by many names such as testosterone problem and sex reversal. It usually occurs when one ovum of a hen fails and the other gets activated. But, do hens crow like roosters just because of hormonal imbalance?
Well, let’s see how. First, hens have a right and left ovary just as humans. The left ovary is responsible for producing the female hormone, estrogen, while the right ovary produces the male sex hormone, androgen. Now, over time, avian viruses and bacteria can affect and damage the left ovary prompting the right dormant ovary to develop.
Since the right ovary contains the male testicular tissues, its development can cause your hen to acquire male hormones causing her to behave like a rooster.
4. Dietary Issues
Lastly, there’s the issue of malnutrition and lack of a proper diet. Now, can a hen crow due to dietary issues? First, if the feeds supplied to your laying hens are not supplemented with the correct levels of amino acids, minerals, and calcium, then the hens won’t form strong eggshells but rather weak brittle eggshells.
As a result, the internal processes of egg formation are likely to break the weak eggshell before its laid. This can result in severe damage to the hen’s reproductive system. Since the left ovary is likely to get damaged in the process, the right ovary that contains the male functions will take over causing your hen to behave like a rooster.
But other than dietary issues, other causes can make your hens develop weak eggshells. They include age (in the case of older and juvenile hens) and high levels of stress among your hens.
How to Stop a Hen from Crowing
Knowing why your hens are crowing is the first step. The second step is to find a solution to this problem. Remember, crowing creates a lot of noise that can be a nuisance if you’re living in a quiet neighborhood.
So, to avoid friction with local laws, you should find methods and home remedies that can help calm down the situation. In this section, we’re going to highlight some steps that can help stop your hens from crowing.
1. Isolate the Crowing Hen
The first step you should take when you notice your hen is crowing is to isolate it. Now, isolation is important for one thing—it helps you break down the pecking order. Remember, if your hen is crowing, then it means it’s at the top of the pecking order. Secondly, it means the hen is dominant and is bullying other weaker chickens in the flock.
So, to maintain peace and harmony within the coop, this step is highly recommended. While in isolation, you should monitor the behavior of the hen and reintroduce it back once you’re convinced it has changed.
2. Introduce New Hens
If isolation is not enough, then perhaps you can introduce a new flock of hens from dominant breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire, Brahmas, and Gamebirds. Such breeds are considered large and intimidating. They’re also go-getters and will never tolerate anyone standing their way.
So, by introducing such hens, you will tend to upset the existing hierarchy as the new hens will appear as a threat thus causing anxiety in the coop. This will cause your dominant hen to calm down and stop crowing.
3. Use a No-Crow Collar
A no-crow collar is another excellent route if you have hens that crow. This small band is mostly tied on the necks of roosters to limit the amount of noise they make when crowing. You see, a rooster’s crow is around 90 – 130 decibels.
This sound is considered loud and annoying if you live in a crowded neighborhood. Although hens are quieter than roosters, you can’t rule out the fact that their crow will cause a nuisance among your neighbors. So, to stay on the safe side, you can consider tying a no-crow band around its neck.
4. Provide Clean Living Conditions
Lastly, you can consider giving your hens clean and decent living conditions. Now, the reason why this step came last is that it’s a less effective solution. This step should be considered early enough before things get worse.
Note that, a decent living condition includes feeding your chickens with a healthy balanced diet and cleaning the coop often to get rid of diseases and bacteria. If this is done early enough, your chickens will not suffer damaged ovaries, which cause sex reversals. Therefore, you won’t have crowing hens in the first place.
Normal Noises for Hens to Make and Their Meaning
Now, chickens are social animals that bond closely with members of their flock and humans as well. Their social behavior is the main reason why they establish a social order or a hierarchy where every member of the flock has a place.
Being social animals means that chickens do communicate with each other. If you have raised chickens for a long time, then it’s easy to distinguish the different sounds they make. So, in this section, we’re going to discuss some of the common sounds chickens make and what they mean.
1. The Egg Song
If you have laying hens, then the egg song will be unmistakable to you. This sound is called a cluck and can extend for up to 15 minutes. The clucking sound, which is demonstrated as “buk-buk-buk-badaak” is thought to scare predators away and is usually made by a single hen or several hens if they’re laying eggs together.
2. Coop Chatter
Now, coop chatters can be heard in the early morning when the chickens are getting ready to start their day. It can also be heard late in the evening or during the night in the form of low murmurs and trills before they settle down for the night.
3. Content Murmurs
These types of sounds are common if you’re raising backyard chickens. Here, you’ll hear them making low murmurs as they forage for pasture. These murmurs are considered alarms as they help to ensure every member of the flock is safe.
4. Food Calls
Food calls have a “tuk tuk tukking” type of noise. This sound can be made by a rooster or a mother to her chicks. When a hen makes this sound, she often picks the food up and drops it using her beak to show her chicks that it’s time to feed.
5. Alarm or Danger
The alarm cry is one of the common chicken noises that can’t be ignored. This alarm comes in two different variations depending on whether it’s an air or a ground attack. In case of a ground attack, the rooster or head chicken will give a loud repetitive cluck that will get faster and louder as the predator gets near.
In case of an air raid, the chicken will give a scream or a shriek that will signal a hawk is getting ready to attack.
Growls and Grumbles of a Broody Hen
When a hen is broody, she tends to get aggressive and bad-tempered. During this time, she needs a lot of personal space with few and if possible, no interruptions. Now, if any member of the flock gets too close to her, she will growl and grumble as a way to say “keep off”.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Can Hens Turn Into Roosters?
Yes, they can. However, a hen will not be phenotypically male. Although we discussed this earlier, hens can undergo a sex reversal after one of their ovaries, mainly the left ovary, gets damaged by disease.
Here, the right ovary will take over and will begin secreting androgens, which are hormones responsible for male characteristics. As a result, your hen will seize to lay eggs and will rather develop physical characteristics like those of roosters.
Q2. Do Hens Crow in the Morning?
Yes, they do. However, this is in rare circumstances such as in a flock situation. When I say flock situation, what I mean is a flock that consists of hens only without a rooster. In this case, the hen that sits atop the pecking order will assume the role of leading and protecting the flock and in some cases, she might crow.
However, her crowing might not be as polished as that of a rooster and can be easy to distinguish if you’re a keen poultry keeper. But, other than the flock situation, there are other causes why hens crow most of which we’ve already discussed in this guide.
Q3. Can Baby Chickens Crow Like a Hen?
No, they can’t. First, juveniles, especially cockerels, start crowing at the age of 8 – 10 weeks. However, some may start sooner and others later. But, when you listen to their first-time crows, you’ll notice they’re infrequent and they will not resemble the crow of an adult chicken.
So, do hens crow in the morning? The answer to this question is yes. However, this is not something that should get you worried as it’s absolutely normal. It mostly happens if you have a flock of hens without a rooster or when the ratio of hens is too high compared to that of roosters. In most cases, the dominant hen takes the role of protecting the flock to a point of mimicking the crows made by a rooster.
Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!