Before I got my chickens, I never considered that they could possibly be loud. I thought only roosters made noise and we were only getting hens so there would be nothing to worry about. Well, was I in a for shock!
Chickens are vocal animals and make noises all day long. When chickens are content, like when they’re scratching the ground, they will make a chirpy sound similar to a cat’s purr. Some chickens will let out an “egg song” before and/or after laying an egg.
Keep reading to learn my 9 tips for keeping your chickens quiet.
1. Choose a Quieter Breed of Chicken
Some breeds of chickens are considered to be more quiet than others.
Plymouth Rocks and Orpingtons are two breeds of chickens that are known to be quiet and considered good for raising in your backyard.
In general, bantam breeds of chickens are also quiet. This is due to their smaller size making their squawking much quieter than larger chickens.
Keep in mind, though, that no breed of chicken will be completely quiet! All breeds of chickens will squawk and make noise as this is a way for them to communicate.
2. Have a Small Flock of Chickens
If you do not already have chickens, start with a smaller flock to keep the noise down.
A large flock of chickens tend to be louder than a small flock of 3 to 5 chickens.
In a large flock there will be more opportunities for a chicken to try to be at the top of the pecking order. Changes or shifts in the pecking order can result in skirmishes among the chickens, resulting in loud squawking.
For most people who live on an average sized lot in town (0.25 acres), 3 to 5 chickens is a good number of chickens to start with. This is enough chickens to have a steady supply of eggs for a family, but not so many chickens that the neighbors complain of the noise.
Chickens can be loud in general so the fewer chickens you have the less loud your flock will be.
3. Don’t Get a Rooster
Roosters can be loud! If you are just starting your flock and want them to stay relatively quiet, do not get a rooster.
Roosters are great protectors of your flock and will attack anything they see as a threat to the hens.
However, they have a very loud crow that can be around 100 decibels. This is equivalent to a live music concert, a motorcycle, or a lawn mower. While the crow only lasts a couple of seconds, it is loud enough to get the attention of the entire neighborhood.
Hens, on the other hand, can get up to around 70 decibels when they are excited. While this is not as loud, it is still loud enough to hear the chickens inside your home.
I live on a half acre in town and can hear my chickens get noisy through the walls in my upstairs bedroom that is farthest from the chicken coop.
Because roosters can be so loud and territorial, many neighborhood HOAs or cities have restrictions or ordinances against the ownership of roosters. For the ones that allow roosters, they will typically have a limit to the number allowed per household.
4. Keep Chicken Coop Clean
The best way to keep your chickens quiet is to keep them happy. This includes providing a clean coop.
While chicken coops do not require regular deep cleaning, fresh bedding should be added as the old bedding gets worn down or kicked out of the coop.
For my chicken coop I add pine shavings every few months to make sure there is enough bedding in the coop.
I aim for a few inches of bedding on the coop floor. This is not an exact science; you just need to make sure that there is some cushion for your chickens when they jump off the roosting bars and enough bedding to cover the coop floor.
The chickens will poop from the roosting bars while sleeping and then scratch the bedding to mix the poop in with the bedding during the day. This material can periodically be removed from the coop and added to your compost pile.
5. Provide Private Nesting Boxes
Chickens can become very loud while laying eggs. Provide private nesting boxes to your hens to help reduce some of the noise associated with laying eggs.
Chickens will sing a “egg song” either before, during, or after laying an egg. This is not a melodic sound, but rather a loud chicken clucking that goes on for several minutes (anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes). It’s not entirely known why some chickens will sing this song.
There are times when I will have one chicken lay an egg and sing the egg song then the other chickens will join in with the singing. This can get quite loud and can last for many minutes.
Since chickens will generally lay their eggs in the morning or afternoon, you do not have to worry about this loud clucking at night.
In addition, chickens can be very possessive of nesting boxes while they are laying eggs. This can lead to squabbles inside the chicken coop which can get very loud at times.
Having private nesting boxes allows hens to lay eggs in peace.
Another issue that private nesting boxes can help prevent is vent picking. Some chickens will pick at another chicken’s vent if they see it exposed while laying an egg. This will cause the chickens to fight with each other and squawk loudly. Vent picking is more likely among pullets. Adult hens typically do not exhibit this behavior as often.
6. Ensure Chickens Have Fresh Water at All Times
Chickens will get loud if their basic needs are not met.
Providing fresh water to chickens at all times is an essential part of good flock management. This is especially necessary during hot or humid weather.
In hot weather, some chickens will refuse to drink if the water has gotten too hot. Make sure their waterer is placed in the shade so that it can stay as cool as possible.
Don’t forget that during the winter the water can freeze, so make sure to check it periodically when the temperature goes below freezing.
7. Make Sure Chickens Have Adequate Feed
This is similar to providing fresh water for chickens at all times. Chickens can get very noisy if they get hungry.
Some chicken keepers measure the food they feed to their flock to ensure they are getting enough nutrients and maintain a certain weight.
However, most backyard chicken keepers will just make sure their chickens have enough food to last the day.
In addition to providing enough feed, make sure you are feeding your chickens the right feed for their age. Check out this post for What to Feed Chickens by Age.
8. Position Coop Away from Disturbances
Chickens can get loud when they are stressed.
Stress comes in many forms for a chicken, but they are stressed in similar ways to us. Loud sounds, bright lights, and physical threats can all stress out your chickens.
Try to position your coop away from a loud garage or barking dog to reduce the loud sounds that can stress your flock.
At night, make sure there are no bright lights shining inside the coop. Chickens need darkness in order to sleep soundly through the night.
Make sure your chicken coop is predator proof. If a predator tries to break into the coop, usually at night, this can cause your chickens to get stressed.
When chickens are well cared for and not stressed, they are usually quiet.
9. Provide Entertainment
This is probably the most overlooked reason why chickens can get loud at times.
When chickens have their basic needs met, like food, water, and shelter, they can suffer from boredom and will communicate their boredom through squawking loudly.
When my chickens are bored in their run and they are ready to get out in the yard, they will let me know by squawking loudly. Once they are out of their run and free-ranging in the yard, they become mostly silent, except for the content chirps they make as they walk around the yard looking for things to eat.
Here are some ideas for entertaining your chickens:
- Provide perches for chickens to roost on. Some chickens prefer to rest on a raised surface during the day, while others have no problem resting on the ground. For the perch, it can be a large stick or small tree branch that is positioned in the corner of your fence or run. You can also provide a small tree stump placed on the ground.
- Give your chickens a food treat. Scratch is a great treat for chickens. My chickens love to eat their scratch. It gives them a job to do by scratching the ground, looking for the seeds. Another food treat that my chickens love is a head of lettuce hanging from a string inside their run.
- Set-up a kiddie pool on hot days. My chickens love to have a kiddie pool in their run. Most chickens will just drink out of the pool, but I have some brave chickens that like to wade around in the water or stand in it on especially hot days.
For more ideas, read 12 Ways To Keep Your Chickens Entertained.
Some of our neighbors enjoy hearing the chickens, some not so much, and others have no idea that we even have chickens in the backyard.
In general, these 9 tips can help you have a quieter flock of chickens in your backyard:
- Choose a quieter breed of chicken
- Have a small flock
- Don’t get a rooster
- Keep chicken coop clean
- Provide private nesting boxes
- Ensure chickens have fresh water at all times
- Make sure chickens have adequate feed
- Position coop away from disturbances
- Provide entertainment