Crowing Hen…How to Get Her to Stop

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Can a hen crow? Yes, this is my 2 1/2 year old Bantam Cochin, named Penguin, that likes to crow sometimes.

A hen can crow like a rooster.  I am not making this up and it isn’t an old wives tale.  It doesn’t happen in a regular flock with a rooster present, but in small backyard flocks with just female chickens, although it is rare, it is not unheard of.  Just yesterday morning, someone on Meet Up: Los Angeles Chicken Enthusaists, was asking for advice on what she should do about her crowing hen.  I personally have had two different female chickens that have crowed.  When the first one started, I initially freaked out because I never heard of a hen being able to crow.  Then I tried to learn everything I could about why she was doing it and how to fix the behavior.  Living really close to neighbors and in a city whose code reads “No Crowing Fowl…” not just “No Roosters Allowed” meant we could not just ignore the problem. Through the research I did, I learned that just because she crowed, didn’t necessarily mean she had gone through some kind of spontaneous gender change.  However, there were some sources that said crowing hens probably have a tumor or damaged ovaries. That probably wasn’t the issue with either of our hens because each laid eggs just fine.  In cases like ours, it is due to the flock situation.  A mature (and top of the pecking order) hen may take on the role of rooster, protecting and leading, including making the customary sounds, albeit, not near as polished sounding as a male chicken. The sound a hen makes when she is crowing is not the same as an egg song, which can be loud, but sounds and looks nothing like crowing.  I have owned chickens long enough to tell the difference between an egg song and a crow, including who out of my chickens is singing without even looking.    My two different hens retained the ability to lay eggs, never got any kind of rooster plumage, and neither ever fertilized an egg, as far as we know.  Here is a link to one of my other posts about Penguin, my bantam Cochin hen that crowed. 

So what did we do to stop the crowing early in the morning?  We did as much as we could…

  • We put the hen in pet carrier in the garage to sleep at night and returned her to the coop once we were confident the neighbors were probably up.
  • Limiting head room to stretch out their neck up high in the pet carrier also prevented them from crowing.  When a hen sings an egg song, she doesn’t stretch her neck.
  • Reduce the hen’s dominance in the flock.  This was a drastic one, but it worked for our hens.  By sending my Penguin across the street to live in the other flock, she instantly was no longer top hen, and stopped crowed just as quickly.  I missed her, but I would go over and visit still.  Basically, if you find you have a crowing hen, look into giving her to someone else that already has an established flock.  However, be fair and warn them a head of time why you are giving her away.
  • Wait it out for a moult.  Some flock owners have reported that a moult fixes the problem.  Penguin went through an awful looking moult right after the relocation across the street.  From what I understand, the hormonal change that goes with moulting helps to correct it.

Other options to stop a hen from crowing that we didn’t consider:

  • Get a rooster and the behavior in the hen will stop
  • Make chicken dinner.
  • Force her into a untimely moult.  ( I don’t recommend this, but there is info out there on the net about it.)

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And an update on Penguin:  My second crowing hen returned to Hanbury House with a tiny brood of silkie chicks at the end of summer.  Once she was done raising the young chicks, she retook her spot at the top of the flock.  I observed how she was acting with the other ladies in the flock, and I noticed she was slowly getting domineering with them once again. I am sure you can guess what happened last Sunday.  Yup.  Penguin started crowing again.  I had really hoped she wouldn't crow, but I kind of figured she might.  My flock of bantam Cochins are so docile, it is easy for Penguin to take over with her charming, outgoing personality.  Therefore, sending her away for a break was only a temporary fix.  To permanently stop her from crowing, she will have to live in a flock with bigger chickens than her so she can't take over as top hen again.  She has only crowed twice lately, but it was enough to land her back in the garage every night.

Weekly Blog Party Hop this post is linking to:

 

  • The Prairie Homestead:  Homestead Barn Hop

 

© 2012 - 2013, Hanbury House.


Comments

Crowing Hen…How to Get Her to Stop — 6 Comments

  1. I have heard of this but have not had to deal with it thankfully but I just have two girls right now. I did have one obnoxiously loud hen each morning but she went to live with a friend who had acreage. Merry Christmas to you.

    • Merry Christmas to you too, Elaine at Sunny Simple Life Blog,
      Other than the lady on Meet Up, Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts this week, I don’t know of anyone else personally that has had a crowing hen either. However, at least once a month, someone on backyardchickens forums mentions problems with a crowing hen. My friend across the street thinks it is both sad and funny that “lightning struck twice here.”

  2. My roo was a hen to start off with but now she decided being a roo was better…I think he was mixed up at the beginning…he’s not a year old yet, stands over 3 feet tall and is just a gentle giant. He still doesn’t have any waddles yet either but does know how to do his thing on the girls. However with feathered huge legs/feet he is quite clumsy when it comes to doing his little dance to attract the girls. Makes me laugh. I was told he was a Black Langston. His looks just like his daddy with the same personality, very friendly. I had never heard of a roo being a hen at first but this is how mine has turned out to be.

    • Hi Cheryl,

      Black Langshans are gorgerous roosters. There is a 3 year old one at the local city college horticulture department that I admire from a distance each time I am in there. Impressive looking chicken. The department head says he is the sweetest, best behaved roo ever. In addition to the great personalities, I have read Black Langshans are really slow to develop to full maturity.

      I used to agree with the theory you can’t be 100% sure of chicken gender until you hear a crow or an egg. After my experience with my two crowing hens, I would say, you can only be 100% sure of the gender until you see an egg. However, both hens were not young pullets, each was well over a year old when they started crowing.

      Merry Christmas and thanks for visiting by my blog.

  3. I love reading your blog, especially your chicken stories. I’ve been keeping chickens as pets and egg producers for years. I’ve never eaten any chickens from my flock and at this stage we have quite a collection of old age pensioners – One of my roosters lived to be 13 years old. Every now and then I weed out the roosters, a perfect solution for me is that they get transferred to the local vet’s farm where they get to live in the cow sheds and are employed as fly lavae eaters. Hawks or other predators eventually take them but they get to live a natural life. We live in a small village in South Africa and luckily the crowing of roosters is not a problem. I enjoy waking up early to the sound of my boys calling to the other answering flocks in the neighbourhood. Keep writing and I’ll keep enjoying! May you have a good Christmas season. Kathleen Gordon.

    • Merry Christmas Kathleen,

      Thank you for the compliments on my blog. I often wonder when I am writing some of my posts, if anyone else is really interested, but I post all sorts of stuff anyway. As you can tell, chickens are my favorite topic, with gardening a close second.

      Wow, 13 years old for a chicken! You obviously gave him wonderful care. I wish roosters were allowed around here, just like dogs and cats. No one thinks twice about a loud dog barking, a leaf blower, or a police siren, but they take notice if there is any kind of chicken noise because it still so uncommon. You are fortunate to live where roosters are welcome. I think you are right about letting them live a natural life. We get tons of hawks stop by. I have lost one to a hawk my first year with chickens, and my neighbor has lost 3, but I still think chickens deserve the opportunity to dust bathe, scratch, and forage.

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