Keeping Noisy Roosters & Cockerels Quiet

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“Can you get cockerels that are not noisy?” ~ Dominic Muddimer

Dominic, that’s a great question, thanks for asking.

Cockerels, or roosters, are indeed noisy. In our area, roosters are not permitted within city limits because of the noise. Thankfully we do not live within city limits. We have 4 Rhode Island Red roosters. We do not currently plan on hatching eggs so our roosters will become dinner when we get around to it. We’re thankful that we have them though because their behavior is fascinating.

There is no breed of chicken that does not crow, nor have any been bred to crow less or more quietly. You may find an individual rooster within a breed that is less noisy but they’re all going to crow, there’s no getting around it. The good news is that there are steps you can take to try to quiet them down.

As the mother of six children, I’ve noticed that roosters and children are alike in so many ways.

Did you ever hear a 2 year old child declare, “Mine!”

It seems that children instinctively know when someone is even thinking about touching their toys. Well roosters are much the same. They are very territorial. If another rooster looks at their hens, they shout “Mine!”. Of course to those of us who don’t speak rooster, it sounds like “Cock-a-doodle-do.” They will proclaim their territory to other roosters in the neighborhood, even a mile away. When children are fighting, we separate them. If you have more than one rooster, you may need to separate each rooster and his hens from the others.

My 4 year old daughter is fond of waking up very early, coming into our bedroom and proclaiming in a very loud voice, “Good morning, it’s going to be a great day.” Some days it’s cute, other days I’d love to find her “snooze” button. Well roosters draw attention to themselves at the break of day as well. It’s an instinct. What is the purpose? I don’t know. But I do know that it’s annoying if you’re not yet ready to wake up. If I want my daughter to sleep later in the morning, I keep her up later at night.

You can do that with your roosters too. By hanging a light in the coop and shutting them in at night, you can trick them into thinking it’s still daytime. Shut the light off before you go to bed. When they awaken in the morning, they may think it’s still night because it’s dark inside the coop. Obviously if your coop has a window, you’d need to cover it so daylight doesn’t come inside. Also, the light needs to be placed up high to be free from a potential fire hazard and for the safety of the chickens.

A special note here about chickens and daylight hours. A hen’s egg production is not slowed in the winter by the colder weather; it is the reduced number of daylight hours that slow down her laying. If you hang a light in the coop to keep the flock up later at night and/or earlier in the morning, their egg production will stay closer to normal through the shorter days. Fifteen hours of daylight is ideal for egg production. Consider using a timer if it’s more convenient. Again, take every precaution to make sure the light is safe for the chickens.

Have you ever noticed that children like to boss each other around and one of them gets to be boss most often?

Just like children, chickens have a pecking order and the rooster is the one calling the shots. Your rooster may be making a lot of noise because he isn’t satisfied with the size of the flock. He might need more ladies to boss around and “attend” to. If he spends more time telling them what to do and protecting them, he might spend less time crowing. A nice rooster to hen ratio is 1 to 6 for good egg fertility. However, up to 15 hens per rooster is still acceptable.

While we’re on the subject of mating, I’d like to clarify that you do not need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs. The only reason to keep a rooster, aside from the entertainment value and their protection of the hens, is if you want fertile eggs to hatch chicks.

When are children most likely to get into trouble?

Children get into trouble when they are bored. Chickens are surprisingly intelligent and a noisy rooster might be restless or bored. A child who is bored and getting into trouble is redirected to do something productive with his time. If you want to distract your rooster in an attempt to keep him from being so noisy, give him something to do. Move things around once in awhile. Hang some old CDs for him to watch as the sun shines off of them (be sure to keep these well out of pecking reach). Give him some toys or a nook to explore. Give him food that challenges him, a cob of corn can keep him busy for awhile. Mix things up so that he’s busy watching out for hazards to the flock and he just might forget about making so much noise.

Roosters crow for many reasons and they have different calls.

Often perched high above his flock, the rooster is on the lookout for danger. He calls his alarm very distinctively when he is alerting his flock to danger. He will call to his ladies to let them know food is available. He will call when he’s feeling “romantic” to draw attention to himself and to proclaim his territory. He will crow when he looks towards the sun, no matter the time of day and he might even crow on a bright moonlit night.

Crowing is just part of a rooster’s nature and there’s not a whole lot that can be done about it. The ideas above are worth a try if your roosters are really causing a ruckus. As a last resort, chicken soup may or may not cure a cold but it always cures crowing.

Thanks again for the question Dominic, have a great week.

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