If you want to get chickens and have neighbors nearby, you’re likely pondering this question – “Are chickens noisy?”
Adding chickens to your backyard is a great step to self-sufficiency, but you’ll want to be sure that you’re prepared for the potential noise before you commit. If you already own chickens and just want to better understand their “chicken language” – this post is for you, too!
In this post we’ll discuss the different types of noises that you can expect from your chickens (with live recordings!), how to reduce chicken noise, the quietest chicken breeds, and more!
Let’s dive in!
Types of Chicken Noises
Let’s just get this one out of the way. Roosters are LOUD. All day, every day. Roosters start crowing when they are ~8 weeks old and won’t stop until their last day. If you are worried about noise or live in town, I’d recommend only keeping hens.
If you can handle the noise, I will say that roosters are great additions to the homestead. They not only provide for and protect the hens, but they also ensure egg fertilization so you can have a steady supply of chicks! True self-sufficiency.
However, they certainly aren’t for everyone, and will alarm the neighborhood at 4am!
I love listening to the hens chattering away at each other! It’s not very loud and consists of short clucks or squacks. Most of the conversations happen in the morning while they are waiting to be let out, or when it’s close to treat time and the hens are trying to remind me of it.
This sound is often made by the head rooster to his ladies. It’s a short chip-chip-chip or cluck-cluck-cluck sound to say “hey, come look at what I found for you!”
It’s a sweet, selfless act that I really enjoy watching. Most chickens are selfish and eat what they find, but there are usually a few providers in the flock who offer what they find to others.
When chickens see a predator fly over or run through the yard, everyone knows it! This call is loud in order to warn their fellow flock mates; similar to a loud growl. It sounds almost like a tiny dinosaur roaring!
If it’s an aerial predator, the call is high-pitched, and if it’s a ground predator, the call is low-pitched. This helps direct the other flock mates on where to look and how to respond.
Chickens get into squabbles with each other, just like humans do! Since they can’t talk, they do it with general squawking at each other. These squabbles can be over a favorite nesting box, a tasty treat, or a favorite roosting spot.
These squawks are fairly loud, and can continue for extended periods of time while they are sorting out their issue. Therefore, ensuring that there is adequate coop space, roosting space, feeder space, nesting boxes, etc. is helpful to keep the dispute squawking noise to a minimum.
This is one of the loudest noises that you’ll hear your hens make. It’s like a little celebration after they lay their egg and they want all of their friends to know it.
The egg song goes something like “buh-buh-buh-gawk” on repeat until she feels like she has sufficiently accomplished her celebration. Some of her friends may even join in on her song!
Broody Hen Noises
A broody hen is one who has decided that it’s her time to incubate eggs naturally. She will flatten herself on the nest and only get off for brief periods to eat and take care of her business.
Broody hens make some new, specific noises during this period.
Broody Hen Growl
Mama hens are very protective of their developing eggs, and chicks once they hatch. If flock mates (or you!) get near her nest or chicks, she will likely puff up her feathers and let out a low growl as a warning to stay back.
Broody Hen Cluck
This is a noise that you’ll likely hear throughout the day once the baby chicks hatch. It’s a short, repeating chip-chip-chip sound that’s fairly soft in intensity.
This is mama Hen’s way of grabbing their attention. It’s used to communicate things like “come to me,” “look at this treat,” or “I’m over here.” It’s so sweet to watch them interact!
For being so small, baby chicks really do have some powerful lungs! If they are happy, you won’t hear much beyond pressure frills (sounds like a purring cat) or soft peeps while they discover their environment. However, if they are cold, separated from their flock mates or feel threatened, be prepared for their shrill panic calls! I can usually hear it from across the yard.
Are Chickens Noisy at Night?
Chickens are nearly silent at night, unless something disturbs them. Their vision is very poor in the dark, so no action is going on when the lights are out. As long as your coop is predator proof, you shouldn’t hear a peep from them all night.
How to Reduce Chicken Noise
Ultimately, chickens are living creatures and will inevitably make some noise. However, there are some things that can be done to keep the noise down to a minimum.
Quietest Chicken Breeds
While all chickens will make some noise, there are a few breeds out there that are known for being docile, calm and quiet. Avoid breeds that tend to be aggressive or flighty; they also tend to be chatty!
- Barred Rock
- Plymouth Rock
- Rhode Island Red
Provide Adequate Space
This is essential not only to keep the noise level down (happy chickens = quiet chickens), but also for their health. A cramped space can result in stress, fights and disease.
- Provide 3-4 square feet of coop space for each chicken to ensure that everyone will be happy and healthy. The more, the better!
- Provide 1 nesting box per 4-5 hens to keep the squabbling down at egg-laying time.
Predator Proof Your Coop
You should be doing this anyway to protect your chickens from curious creatures, but this will certainly help keep the noise down as well. A startled or attacked chicken is a very loud chicken! We’ve taken great care to predator proof our coop and haven’t had a break-in in over 5 years!
Here are my best tips for predator proofing your coop:
- Use hardware cloth, not chicken wire, for the bottom of your run and windows. Chicken wire is weak and is only effective at keeping chickens in, not keeping predators out. Hardware cloth is more expensive, though, so we only use it where it’s absolutely needed, like the bottom 3 feet of the run and windows.
- Consider burying 12” of hardware cloth under the ground, bent up to be perpendicular to the fence and extend away from the run. This will prevent neighbor dogs or foxes from digging under your fence.
- Secure your doors from the top and bottom. This will ensure that your door stays snugly shut against curious raccoon or bear hands, both of which we have in our area!
Don’t Use a Light in Your Coop
In the winter, it is common to add a light to the coop that turns on in the early morning hours to provide 14 hours of daylight to promote laying. However, this may mean that your chickens are getting busy at 4 am, which may not be desirable if you have neighbors nearby.
If you are worried about having an egg shortage in the winter by not using a light, save up your eggs during the high-production months and preserve them with water glassing! Water glassing is a simple, traditional way to preserve eggs for over a year at room temperature. So cool!
Insulate Your Coop
Adding insulation into the walls of your coop will definitely dampen the noise, especially since hens’ “egg song” is the loudest. If you live in a cold-weather state like me, then adding insulation is a great move to protect your chickens in the winter, anyway.
Definitely check out my article on Chicken Coop Winterizing for more tips!
Sometimes, hens get stuck in a cycle of their dispute calls for so long that I don’t think they even remember what they were squabbling about in the first place. They just carry on, and on, and on.
In these cases, I’ve found that providing a tasty distraction is all they need to snap them out of it. Spreading out a handful of scratch grains seems to do the trick every time!
Be careful with how much scratch grains you feed, however. Scratch grains are like candy to chickens and should only make up a small portion of their diet.
Rehome Noisiest Chickens
When all else fails, you may need to rehome your most “chatty” hens to a more rural location.
How to Reduce Rooster Noise
If you plan to keep a rooster, keep reading! Roosters are certainly the loudest with their crow reaching 130 decibels, or more. That’s equivalent to standing 50 feet from a jet taking off! Yikes!
Keep Larger Breeds
I’ve raised hundreds of roosters by now and as a noise-sensitive person, I’ve definitely noticed some patterns!
- Small breed roosters not only tend to be more flighty and crow more, but they also have a higher-pitched, shrill crow that seems to carry quite well.
- Larger breed roosters tend to be more laid back, crow less and have a lower-pitched crow that hardly makes it to the house. Much better! I’m not talking about massive breeds like cochins or brahmas, either. I’ve had the best luck with rhode island reds, welsummers and maran roosters.
Mind Their Personality
This one is huge! You could raise 3 roosters of the same breed, the same exact way, yet get totally different results. Each rooster has their own vibrant personality and there’s really no changing that once it’s established.
Some roosters like to crow all day, every day, no matter what (which drives me crazy!). I don’t mind occasional crowing, but obnoxious crowing for no reason is unacceptable at our peaceful homestead.
Each rooster has their own unique crow, too! You may raise 3 different rhode island red roosters, but each one will have their own voice. Get to know each one and if noise level is important to you, decide which one carries the least.
My key to success is raising a handful of roosters so that I can watch their personalities and crowing patterns develop. Then, I select my favorites to keep at the end. Definitely check out my article on How to Cook A Rooster for when the time comes!
Avoid Breeding Pens
This one is huge! Roosters are very competitive and territorial. If you have roosters separated in their own breeding pen, they will engage in “crowing competitions” between each other. If you have a neighbor nearby with a rooster, they might crow between each other, too!
Use a Crow Collar
There are devices on the market called crow collars that can be used to reduce the decibel level of the rooster’s crow. It will not stop or reduce the frequency of the rooster’s crowing, only the power behind it.
Many people feel that this is an inhumane option, however, it can be very successful as long as the crow collar is applied properly and with close monitoring. Plus, if this means that your rooster can live another day, I’d say it’s worth a try.
You can find crow collars on Amazon, however, they are of poor quality and the reviews reflect that. If you want to go this route, I’d recommend the following well-designed products:
How to Address Chicken Noise With Your Neighbors
If you live on less than 1 acre, then you’ll definitely want to consider a few things to ensure that you don’t drive your neighbors crazy!
Careful Coop Placement
Most of the chicken noise comes from inside or around the immediate coop area. Chickens will explore the surrounding yard area, but they tend to be fairly quiet and with less squabbles when they are out by themselves.
Therefore, be mindful of where you place your coop. While you may be tempted to place it away from your house to keep the noise and smell down, your neighbor may not be thrilled if it’s placed on the property line.
If you can find a location that is next to a hill, a stand of trees or a storage shed, this will help block some of the sound. If you are building a coop, consider omitting windows on the wall that faces your next door neighbor.
Install a Privacy Fence
If you are in town, this is a great step to take. Not only will it block some of the noise, but it will keep curious neighbor dogs from noticing that you have tasty chickens on the other side!
Lastly, a privacy fence will help contain your chickens to your yard, rather than wandering over to your neighbors. Chickens love to make a mess of flower beds and gardens, which I’m sure your neighbor won’t appreciate!
This is a must if you live in town. Strike up a conversation with your neighbors and see how they’d feel about welcoming some chickens next door. Let them know that you’ve researched chicken noise and what to expect.
To be honest, most all chicken noise (except for a rooster crow) is quieter than a dog barking, so keeping hens should be a non-issue unless you have an uptight neighbor. A hen’s cluck only comes in at 60 decibels, which is equivalent to human conversation. A dog’s bark or lawn mower comes in at 90 decibels.
Offer Some Eggs!
Most people are more than happy to put up with a little hen squabble here and there in exchange for some fresh eggs every once in a while! This might help you win over some neighbors that are taking a while to warm up to the idea of having chickens next door.
Clip Their Wings
Chickens aren’t excellent flyers, but they can get around! If they end up getting stuck on the wrong side of the fence, they’ll definitely make a lot of noise! A sure way to annoy your neighbors.
Clipping their flight feathers is an easy way to keep them on the right side of the fence. If you’d like to learn how, check out this informative YouTube video by Becky’s Homestead.
Best Chicken Books
Here are my favorite chicken books that I reference often! If you’re just getting started with chickens, or are an experienced chicken keeper, these are great resources for all.
The Homesteading RD's Product Picks
This is my go-to chicken book! Full of practical advice. It covers everything you need to know from coop design, chicken health and incubating eggs.
This is my second chicken book that I default to if I can't find an answer in the book above, or if I just want a second opinion. Another solid resource!
Over the years, I've found that the chicken health sections in the 2 books above are just not thorough enough. This chicken health handbook is a great resource to have for whatever health issues come your way.
Other Articles You’ll Love
- Brooding in Poultry – What You Need to Know!
- Chicken Coop Winterizing – 6 Helpful Tips!
- Cooking a Rooster: The Basics
I hope that you are now feeling confident in your choice to raise chickens and have a good understanding of what noise to expect.
Chickens are living creatures, so some noise is to be expected, but overall it’s quite manageable as long as they aren’t startled or getting on each other’s nerves. Once you get to know your flock and each of their unique ways of communicating, it’s fun to listen in and understand what they are chatting about.
*All of the information above was referenced from my favorite chicken book Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens and personal experience, unless otherwise specified.
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