Raise your hand if you thought only roosters crowed. Think again! Roosters may be more compelled to shout so the rest of the neighborhood can hear, but they are not the only chickens who are capable of crowing. Hens can do it, too. And most of the time, a hen crowing is considered normal. Now, it is understandable that you would be concerned about this behavior, especially if you are worried that one of your pullets is actually a cockerel. Keep reading to learn why your hen is crowing and what you can do to stop it.
Do Hens Sometimes Crow?
Yes, it is quite possible that your hens begin to crow. Hens have all the things needed to crow, though they do it more rarely than roosters. However, a hen’s row is never as loud as a rooster’s. If you have a backyard full of hens, you should anticipate one day hearing them crow, especially if there is no rooster to keep them in check.
Why Do Hens Crow?
There are a number of reasons a hen will crow. Sometimes, it is merely because of their breed. Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds are well-known for their chatty females. A rare breed from China known as the Longcrower also has hens that regularly crow as loudly as a rooster. However, in the event you do not have any of these breeds and cannot figure out why your hen is crowing, here are some of the other reasons to consider:
1. Pecking Order
In flocks where there is no rooster, the hens are left to distribute among themselves a certain level of dominance. No hen wants to be considered low-ranked, and so they start behaving more masculine to prove their point. Research has found that the main reason roosters crow is to display their dominance. In short, the crowing could be your hens going on a power-trip. They are trying to figure out who deserves to be Number One in the flock!
Unfortunately, if your hens are crowing at one another because they are trying to work out the pecking order, it could also mean the weaker and smaller chickens are getting bullied.
2. No Rooster Around
In the event that you had a rooster at one time but don’t anymore, the hens will need to re-establish a pecking order. Similar to above, since there is no leader, a hen will need to take the rooster’s place. Thus, your ladies begin to mimic the behaviors of the previous rooster to show off how dominant they are. Thus, they may take up the practice of crowing.
3. Age, Disease, and Hormonal Imbalances
As chickens age, they begin to undergo changes, much like people. In fact, hens have their own form of menopause. Like humans, hens have two ovaries, though only the left one produces eggs and estrogen, the female hormone. Aging hens often lose their ability to produce estrogen, which no only dampens their ability to lay eggs, it also changes their overall body chemistry. Similarly, if the left ovary is somehow damaged during an injury or disease (such as ovarian cancer), it could cause the right ovary to become more active.
Throughout the hen’s life, the right ovary is producing testosterone. When a hen is overloaded with the male hormone, they start displaying rooster-like behaviors, including crowing.
Did you know that 1 in every 10,000 hens can change its sex into male? This strange phenomenon may actually be a remnant of your fowl’s old dinosaur DNA. This is called spontaneous sex reversal, and it can happen both at the hormonal and physical level. You might notice that your hen is starting to develop male plumage or grow a more pronounced comb or wattles. Perhaps their egg production drops off.
Usually, this happens because the left ovary is damaged beyond repair, giving them more testosterone. There may be other reasons for this happening, but since it is such a rare occurrence, not much is known about the process.
5. Poor Diet
Chickens who are not nourished will start to suffer from internal damage to their organs, including their ovaries. As mentioned earlier, damages to the ovaries can cause a lack of estrogen to develop or be released. Without balanced hormones, your chickens will take on rooster-like behaviors, such as crowing, and strain to lay more eggs on a regular basis.
If a hen in your flock is crowing and you notice that her eggs are weaker, softer, or not as tasty, poor diet or nutrition could be the reason.
What Are Normal Hen Noises?
If you think your hen is crowing, you could be mistaking it for some other noises that chickens make. Again, hens crow more quietly and less forcefully than roosters. Here are some common noises that chicken owners sometimes mistake for a crow:
Spending time with your flock of hens, you might notice that they frequently cluck as they free range around the yard or when dust bathing. Clucks of contentment are what you would expect them to sound like: a low murmur or a peaceful utterance. Chickens make this sound when others are earshot and they want to communicate that they are doing fine.
When a hen wants to find a nesting box and lay her eggs but those boxes are currently occupied, you might hear her sing a little song. The egg lullaby is persistent and will continue until the hen gets a chance to lay her eggs.
Later on, when the hen is sitting on her eggs, preparing to hatch them, she might coo and cluck and murmur soothing sounds to the chicks inside the eggs. Sometimes, you may even hear little peeps as a reply.
Ever have broody hens to contend with? Then you have heard this bird version of a growl. Broody hens do not want to leave the nest, and so they may hiss, grumble, and puff up if you get too close. Broody grumbles can be a bit intimidating if you haven’t heard them before, but your chicken’s hiss is worse than her bite.
Another common chicken noise that you will hear is the one for sounding the alarm. Of course, unlike the contented clucks, this is one you do not want to hear all the time. Loud, persistent, almost frantic clucking is a signal to other chickens and to you that something is very wrong. If you hear this kind of alarmed clucking for help, go outside and check as soon as you can. If you don’t answer the call, the frantic clucks will turn into long, high pitched shrieks.
Call for Food
Although this is usually a rooster’s job, hens will also let out a “tuk tuk” sound if they find a particularly delicious morsel of food. Mother hens also make this sound when they are calling their chicks to assemble.
In this video you can listen to all the variety of sounds of hens!
Do Hens Crow at Dawn Like Roosters?
Yes, definitely. Hens will crow at dawn like roosters, and you may not be able to distinguish between the two right away. Again, this crowing could be from a number of reasons, including pecking order, disease, and even spontaneous sex changes in flocks where a rooster isn’t present. If you want to keep your hen from crowing at dawn, consider the tips below.
Tips on Stopping Your Hen From Crowing
Knowing the reasons why your hen is crowing is not going to be enough to stop it from happening. You are going to have to act. By taking the necessary steps, you can keep your hen from crowing. Plus, you could potentially save your chicken from becoming very ill.
1. Introduce a Rooster
The quickest solution is to change the pecking order dynamic by bringing a rooster home. A rooster will happily take over the crowing duties. The downside to this is that now you have an even louder crow!
2. Clean Conditions
While this will not automatically keep your hen from crowing once she begins, it does work to prevent it from ever beginning. As you now know, hens need a decent diet and to be free of disease in order to live a happy and functional life. If the coop is dirty and she does not have access to healthy food and fresh water, your chicken’s body is going to suffer.
3. New Hens
Sometimes, jumbling up the pecking order will stop a hen from crowing. If she is the most dominant, consider knocking her a few pegs lower on the totem pole by bringing in a Rhode Island Red or Leghorn.
4. No-Crow Collar
A No-Crow collar is an official brand that designed a collar that goes around a chicken’s neck and dampens their crowing. The No-Crow collar is the best way to get immediate results. It also does no harm to the chick and does not leave them uncomfortable.
If you even wondered, “Why is my hen crowing?”, you now have an answer. In the absence of a rooster, nutrition, a clean coop, or general health, your chicken will begin to crow. Stopping hens from crowing can be difficult, but you definitely want to get to the bottom of the situation. After all, if your hen is providing you eggs, you don’t want her acting like a rooster!
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.