This question is perennial and comes up pretty frequently, so we thought we would take some time to answer the question and hopefully give the roosters a break from all the bad press they get!
Folks tend to say roosters are very noisy – and yes they can be, but not as noisy as you might think…
Whilst many people see roosters crowing as an annoyance, it can actually be a vital deference alarm for the rest of the flock.
Let’s start by looking at just how loud roosters are, before looking at tips on how to keep your rooster quiet…
How Loud Are Roosters?
A rooster crowing is capable of producing around 90 decibels – the same as a barking dog!
Hens laying eggs and cackling is around 70 decibels, about the same as human conversation. Lawn mowers and power tools are much louder, more insistent and penetrating than a mere rooster.
Since they really aren’t so loud, it is probably the different-ness of the noise that upsets people the most. After all, the rooster crows to wake you up right?
Country folks are more likely to take exception to barking dogs than a rooster crowing.
If you live in a town or village you are sure to be accustomed to at least one neighborhood dog barking. Fortunately, most owners are conscientious to not let them bark at night or early in the morning.
This is where our roosters fail us – they will not be silenced! A rooster has a mind of his own and a flock to protect, so he will crow whenever and wherever he wants, regardless of the neighbors.
An ingenious person invented a ‘no-crow’ collar. It works by preventing the bird from expelling all the air from the air sacs at once, so it mutes the sound but does not eliminate the crow. It has worked well for some folks, but there are many who state it doesn’t work at all (more on this later).
Why Do Roosters Crow?
Surprisingly, this question wasn’t answered until fairly recently. The general assumption was ‘because he can’ – this is partly true.
Researchers in Japan found that roosters’ crow to announce the days’ beginning.
The dominant rooster will crow first and subordinates must wait until he has done the ‘official announcement’, then they can crow. If they don’t, this may be seen as a challenge to the head roosters’ authority and a fight may ensue.
The crow is also a communication to other chickens in the area so that there aren’t any surprises if a flock strays too near another flock, this is important if they are in the wild jungle, they are setting up boundaries.
Roosters have not lost this instinct – it is preferable to fighting each other.
It is also a notice to any predators that the flock is guarded by a rooster. Although it may deter some smaller predators and perhaps some aerial predators, I don’t think Mr. Fox takes too much notice of this.
If your rooster starts crowing in the night, he could be alerting the flock (and you) to a predator or strange noise – it’s a ‘wake up, danger’ call to his girls.
The most interesting point of the study was that the researchers found that roosters have an internal circadian clock. Although this had long been assumed, it has not been proven until now.
When they kept the roosters in the complete dark, the birds adjusted to a 23.8 hour day which I think is pretty amazing!
Some roosters also crow in response to loud noises such as a motorcar or tractor. It’s possible that the rooster views loud, strange things as a threat and is crowing to assert his dominance and warn them off.
How Long Do Roosters Crow For?
In general terms, the ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ can be repeated as long as the rooster so desires, but once he has announced his territory to everyone he’s usually quiet until something else sets him off.
If you have a solitary rooster they are not prone to ‘over-crowing’ because they lack competition.
How would you like one of these roosters?
That would be enough to send me over the edge first thing in the morning!
This bird is a Kosovo Long Crower Rooster. They are a landrace breed, meaning they have adapted to their surroundings and haven’t been ‘bred’ by mankind.
Eastern Europe, Russia, Japan and Indonesia all can boast of long crowing roosters going back centuries in some places:
- Japan – Toumaru, Kuro Geshiwa, Koeyoshi and Totenko breeds
- Indonesia – Ayam Pelung breed
- Germany – Bergische Kraeher breed
All of these breeds crow in excess of 15 seconds, but none crow as long as the Drenica – a whopping 30 seconds!
I listened to the ‘song’ of the Koeyoshi also. This bird is bred by the Japanese for its unusual song. In a strange way it reminded me of a Buddhist chant.
Throughout Japan competitions are run to find the best sounding rooster. It’s a very serious endeavor for the participants since it is an honorable thing to win.
Several other countries around the world also hold rooster crowing contests: USA, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Indonesia.
Are There Any Quiet Roosters?
Some roosters crow less than others, but they will still crow.
If you have more than one rooster you will know that once one crows, they all follow along – it can be quite noisy at times!
Bantam roosters still crow. In fact, because of their size, the crow itself can sound quite shrill and piercing and it is likely to irritate some people more than the deep crow of a standard sized rooster.
How to Keep Your Rooster Quiet
If you are hoping to keep him totally quiet, you are out of luck.
However, there are various methods out there to try and keep the noise down!
Some of them are crazy and some downright cruel – we have left those out and selected a few ideas for you to try out.
No Crow Collar
This is a quite simple invention that interferes with the expulsion of the air from the roosters’ air sacs and diminishes the sound of the crow. You can buy them from most pet and farm stores.
It does not restrict his eating, drinking, breathing or vocalizations – just the volume of the crow.
It costs around $22.00 and comes in different sizes; you can even get a bowtie for it! Some people have had great success with it, others not so much. Some inventive souls have made their own versions for around $7.00 from a strip of Velcro.
The important points to note is that the collar must not be too tight and the bird should be monitored when wearing the collar in case he gets into trouble.
Coop and Insulation
If your coop is located near the fence-line, is it possible to move it further away in a more sheltered location? Sometimes just a few feet of space can make a big difference in noise volume.
Also, if you have the ability and room to insulate the coop and perhaps plant some bushes around the coop it might muffle the sound a bit.
My concerns for this solution would be that predators can hide in the bushes and ambush your flock if they are hungry enough. The best place to plant trees or shrubs would be on the border of the land – away from the coop.
You can also shutter the coop windows at night to prevent the rooster from seeing the daylight. However, we now know that the bird has its’ own internal circadian rhythm, so its questionable how effect this will be.
Someone asked if caponizing would work. Caponizing is the removal of the male testes which will stop him from fertilizing the ladies and may calm him down, but it will not stop him crowing.
This procedure can be done by a veterinarian. Some folks do castrate their own roosters (without anesthesia), but needless to say this would be painful for the bird.
Although there are various ways in which the crowing can be lessened, they will still crow – it’s what they do. It is how they communicate with the flock, you and the surroundings.
We have said numerous times: good roosters are hard to find.
So if you have a good rooster but the neighbor doesn’t like waking up to him crowing at daybreak, try to find a way to solve the problem. It can be heart-breaking if you have to ‘rehome’ him (the rooster not your neighbor!).
Meanness in a rooster is much about the way you handle them – you have to be the boss.
Friendship and trust may come later.
So yes, roosters can be loud, but now you know why and you have a few ideas to work with on lessening the noise.
Let us know in the comments section below if you have any other tips to stop roosters crowing so much!