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.)
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
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