Noisy Hens

by Daisy

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Don't you eyeball me, chicken!

Since the hens began laying they have gone from quiet pullets to gabby girls.  The racket begins in late morning and continues intermittently until around noon, while the laying is going on.

BawkbawkbawkbawkbawkbawkBAWKAW!!

By midday the hubbub has subsided and they go back to their quiet selves, but I can’t help but cringe wondering if a neighbor somewhere is building up a head of steam.

I know the amount of cackling pales in comparison to the din of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, car alarms, yapping dogs, and the like, but it’s the unusual-ness of the sound that makes ears perk up.  Suburbanites have become inured to the typical suburban sounds and we tune them out, or at least we know the futility of trying to do something to change them.  I worry that the suburban mindset, perhaps subconsciously geared to challenge the atypical, will balk at the noise of hens at laying time and I will get a visit or a dreaded notice from the city.

It’s on my agenda to visit the neighbor closest to, and therefore most likely affected by, the racket.  They seem to keep to themselves, however, and I keep putting it off.  So who’s the chicken here anyway, huh?

A basket of fresh eggs, a loaf of bread, an explanation, and an invitation to visit the hens is what I plan.  Help get me off my tush and over there, folks.

Oh, and please tell me that your hens got quieter after they had been laying for a while . . .  ?



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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda January 25, 2010 at 6:57 am

Um… no. They just like to brag. Or, alternatively, they are screeching: OhmybuttmybuttmybuttmyBUTT! Sorry, it doesn’t seem to get any better.

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Beverly January 25, 2010 at 7:12 am

D, I work for Dave Harris. Was wondering if you needed any egg cartons. I have about 7 of then if you want them. Let me know. Otherwise, I’ll throw them away. Great story, by the way!

karen b January 25, 2010 at 7:28 am

No matter whether you’re young or old, it remains the same. The longer you put off something dreaded, the more dreaded it becomes in your mind. Rip it off like a bandage and take it like a (wo)man, TL. Knowing beats wondering any day of the week!

Heather January 25, 2010 at 8:23 am

The peace offering to the neighbor ought to do the trick. I’ve never owned chickens, so I don’t know anything about the noise level. I really can’t blame your chickens for being noisy, though. When you consider the size of a chicken and the size of an egg, I’d probably squawk too 🙂 I know for a fact that I squawked A LOT when I had my son!

Lynnette January 25, 2010 at 8:40 am

You can do it! When I move into a new neighborhood I try and get the courage to visit the neighbors with some goodies in my hands and it helps with the awkward moment of “hi, I live next door and….”. Chances are your neighbors are just as ‘chicken’ to come up to you and ask to see your pretty laying ladies.

Carla January 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

You never know, T.L. — they may ENJOY hearing your ladies go about their business. I agree that getting to know your neighbors and your ideas of being “neighborly” are on target. So gather some eggs for them and march on over!

Bethany James January 25, 2010 at 11:17 am

I don’t know whether your neighbors are bothered or what other suggestions to give on the matter, but I just had to say:

Doesn’t it crack you up that they do that? Like they’re newly surprised every day. Every day there’s an egg, and every day they act like, “Oh my goodness!! An egg!! I’ll bet no one’s ever done THAT before!”

Kika January 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

I have no idea of the noise level, either. Do you think it is noisier than having dogs next door who bark incessantly? I think I’d prefer the hens; knowing that at least they’re doing something useful?!

Allison January 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I TOTALLY did something similar, I went to my 4 closest neighbors in our HOA and and brought gifts of fresh garden veggies a couple of times this summer as an apology for how horrible our front yard looked (as all extra time was spent in the backyard garden). However we are chickens where our chickens are concerned, we have them despite city ordinances to the contrary (they are not enforced) and I am off the mindset of “what noise… I don’t hear any noise?”

Patti January 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

At least it’s during the day. Our rooster crowed at night starting about 3 a.m. & continuing until around noon. We hoped to get used to it but gave up after a week. He now lives on a farm with some lady friends.

Kat January 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I’ve found that I can distract our hens when they’re being a little too noisy by tossing them a few scraps from the compost, digging a small hole in the ground, or just going out and “talking” to them. Also, if you take away the egg they just laid, they seem to forget what they were going on about.
I can’t decide if they’re closer to dogs or four year old kids in their distractability.

Danielle Michelle January 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Just keep load of ‘peace offerings’ at the door. They don’t stop. Ever.

Jennifer January 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I worry about this if we are to get hens. I wonder just how loud it will sound at the neighbors house.

Karen January 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm

they definately do like to brag, although the pain level has certainly crossed my mind some days…we say that eggs are small, medium, and ouch! 🙂

Susan Chiang January 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm

My hens are loud if I keep them in their coop/run area. But if I let them out to roam freely about my yard, they are very quiet for the entire day. After they lay an egg, they will squawk for about 5 minutes and then go right back to foraging and roaming free. In contrast, if I leave the coop/run area closed up the entire day, they get bored and will spend most of the day squawking in protest.

I think chickens naturally are foragers and roamers. They do not like being “cooped up.” Have you tried letting them out to roam freely?

Lindsay January 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm

My hens are noisy as ever, but it’s probably just because the roosters won’t let them peck in peace, they insist on chasing them around.

Susan Chiang January 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Oh, and to answer your question…. no, my hens never got any quieter as they aged. They are now about 14 months old and have been laying for 9 months.

J. Acevedo January 25, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Sorry…it never ends…Didn’t you see “Chicken Run”?hehehe
Yes, they may be quieter if left to roam, but still, they will be noisy. Well…hens will be hens…
😎

J. Acevedo January 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

ps.:
Share some eggs with the neighbors…Everybody enjoys some freebies.
😎

Darlene January 25, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Wish I could tell you they get quieter.. but it just aint so! 🙂 Every time I even open my backdoor they start up. If I return in the car and come through the gate … the start up. One in particular, a speckled hamburg hen sounds like some strange mystery bird from an island far far away lol.

Hopefully the eggs and loaf of bread will do the trick. I asked each of my neighbors and they all (thankfully) replied that they hardly ever hear them, but when they do, they LOVE it. I live right downtown, and even though hens are allowed, if someone made a complaint I know there would be troubles.
What I love though, is that I can hear my neighbors hens, 5 doors down, and I smile cause I know that sound means she has healthy delicious eggs on the way 🙂

Oatbucket January 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm

The don’t quiet down. Around here when a hen lays and egg, she announces it to everyone. “I laid an egg, I laid and egg, I laid an egg!”

Then all of the other hens have to talk about it. “She laid an egg, she laid an egg, she laid an egg!”

Hope your neighbors are okay with it. Fresh eggs ought to help. Unless they are allergic to eggs.

Joan January 25, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Solve your problems and move next to me!!! Chickens are cool!

Suzanne January 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm

My neighbors love the sounds of my chickens. Something about the agrarian nature of it in such an unexpected place. Let’s face it, suburbia evokes a lot of stereotypical thinking, alienation being the biggest attributable quality. Your many respondents are correct: baking that bread and a half dozen eggs with a friendly knock on the door is a great neighborhood builder. Also, I have found that when I am really nervous about extending myself I remember it is not about me but about making them feel comfortable. That should do it! Good luck.

Tanya Walton January 26, 2010 at 3:30 am

Personally I say sod the neighbours…your hens are obviously happy and healthy and proud to let everyone know it. For the times of day they are being noisy no-one complaining would get anywhere anyway so just carry on enjoying your luxury eggs. Just up the road from me a man has hens, ducks, geese, cockerels and sheep…personally for me it is lovely to hear them at all times of day…so much nice than the artificial ear-piercing sounds I have to listen to when I visit the town!!

Susan Chiang January 26, 2010 at 10:06 am

Also, it’s possible your neighbors aren’t even home at the hours your hens are spouting off. A word of caution, if you decide to let your hens roam freely as I do: I have lost one hen to a neighborhood dog who escaped his fenced-in yard. He just grabbed her and ate almost all of her. I will probably lose more hens in the future, but it’s a tradeoff. There are many benefits to free-roaming hens. The eggs are more nutritious (they eat a variety of insects and weeds that can’t be replicated in a coop enviro), the hens are happier and quieter, they spread their fertilizer all over my property instead of concentrating it in one spot, the flies stay under control, and the hens do a great job of keeping weeds under control.

Kathy January 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

Somewhere on the next street over someone owns a rooster. I love hearing him! I don’t hear the chickens at all. As we walk my son to school, we pass two or three houses that have chickens. We always stop to listen and see them if we can. They are wonderful! We live in a city, just on the outskirts of downtown.

Cathy January 26, 2010 at 1:31 pm

No, they don’t get quieter. But it’s sort of a pleasant sound…maybe that’s just because I’m IN the house with a 9, 5, 3, and 2 YO and the chickens sound blissfully happy and relatively quiet. ; ) They crack me up because they brag not only about their own egg, but about their “sisters'” eggs as well. And they’re quiet at night, unlike the neighbors’ dogs.

busywithkids January 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I think of my ducks as my “alarm clock”. They start quacking to be let out of their pen once the sun starts coming over the horizon (come on, y’all, it’s not even daylight yet!). So, I rush on outside to let them out before they make too much noise. Still, it is A LOT better than the neighbor’s dog who barks all night and wakes me up.

Kathy January 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

My girls can be NOISY! In our case it’s because somebody is hogging the preferred laying box. No matter how much I freshen the others with fresh straw, they all want to lay in the same place. If you throw some canned corn over the fence they’ll hush up for awhile. Ours are conditioned – when they hear the sliding door open they think food is on the way so they start the ruckus.

I would definitely get over to the neighbors with some eggs – pronto! You don’t want another battle like with the goats, do you?

Kathy January 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I’m cracking up as I read this last post. We aquired 2 australorp, 2 buff orps, 2 barred rock and 2 Easter eggers 2 weeks AFTER you received yours. See I wasn’t brave enough to order them till after you did! Hey if Tomato Lady can do it, I’ll give it a try well……. I watched when yours started laying and to the day (2 weeks later) so did ours! BUT THE FUSS THEY MAKE lol , Hubby cringes in fear (we live in the city) of neighbors complaining. The australorps seem to make the most noise so far, and like others said placating with treats at ” high noise” seems to help. Also gifting the neibs with fresh eggs definately seems to work 🙂

debmoulton January 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm

They never get any quieter, sorry. If you have an over-abundance of eggs, your neighbors might want to purchase a few fresh ones, and the sound they make is free advertising.

Wendy S. January 26, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I laughed so hard when I read this post! You said all the things I’ve been thinking lately. We have 4 hens, live in an HOA neighborhood and poultry is forbidden. When my girls get going, one of us is running out there trying to quiet them down. I think I need another laying box because they yell when someone else is in it. 🙂 They also squawk when they get separated from each other, which I think is kind of sweet.

My neighbors have never complained, but I asked their permission before I got the chickens. And today we delivered some eggs to them since all 4 of my girls are laying now! Woohoo!!

Thanks for the entertaining post and keep up the good work!

Sarah January 28, 2010 at 9:48 am

Bearing gifts sounds like a great way to explain the chicken noise. Personally, I would be thrilled to receive a basket of eggs and a loaf of bread!

Kelly January 28, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Um, I’m no expert (my neighborhood doesn’t allow chickens – bummer.), but I would think that I would make lots of strange noises if I were laying an egg, too.

Avian Aqua Miser January 29, 2010 at 10:24 am

I was just thinking this exact same thing as I walked my dog yesterday morning. I could hear the hens squawking from a tenth of a mile away! Luckily, we have no neighbors closer than a mile away, but it made me wonder whether there’s really any point in shutting roosters out of urban homesteads to cut down on noise. Hens can be just as loud!!

Heather S. February 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm

I just discovered your blog today, and I consider it several kinds of awesome. As to the noise, I probably wouldn’t mind it, especially if fresh eggs were included in the bargain ;). I live in an apartment complex, but I dream of being partly self-sufficient in suburbia one day, including the keeping of chickens.

Heather June 15, 2010 at 6:56 pm

My younger ones ARE noisier, if that helps! Love, love the photo and caption at the top of this post! Thanks for all the insightful blogging-I gave you a “Happy 101” award over on my little blog this week because your blog inspires me!

Ashley July 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

Thank you for this post! I was freaking out this morning because all three of my girls were being more annoying and loud than normal (and normal is still disconcerting) and was searching the internet for answers. (As I type they are bwakawking!) I can see now that I cannot stop the ruckus, so I guess I will need to do the same thing and talk with our neighbors.

One of the neighbors is great, but I am ashamed to admit that I have never in the 5 years we have lived here talked with the other neighbor about anything. I am definitely nervous about that chat….

Thanks again for your post and for all subsequent posts!

Tomato Lady July 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Ashley–In the time since I wrote this post I am happy to report that they have settled down a little. Also, I’ve found that if they have feed waiting for them first thing in the morning, they seem less bawky. I put some feed out at night in a pan after they have gone to roost (because I don’t get up as early as they do!) and they see the food and forgo their early morning hollering and go straight out to peck around.
Also, I spoke with my closest neighbor and she was fine with it. She seems to like the “farm” atmosphere, besides they done make as much noise as her dog and I imagine she’s happy to compromise!

BambiB February 6, 2011 at 6:49 am

I’ve got 3 hens. When I kept them cooped up at night, they use to raise hell in the morning till I let them out. I was just trying to keep them safe from the neighborhood cats, but they’re bigger now and not such easy targets. Now I just give them the run of the yard, day or night, and generally the only noise I hear is an occasional cackle, a demand for food, or egg “announcement”.

This morning was a little different. We’ve got a raccoon hanging out looking for eats. The dog keeps him in the trees, but that’s been a pain because he’s out to do his dirty work in the middle of the night. I expect to trap and relocate him. (He’s just a young’n)

I don’t know what the deal was with the chickens THIS morning though. Loud cackling at 5 am. Not all three chickens. Just one making all the noise. I tossed them some chicken feed, which usually shuts them up, but one just just kept on making noise. I finally had to go out, chase the trouble-maker down and lock her in the coop. Hint: Chickens get very quiet if you squeeze their necks hard enough! And they seem to get the message: Shut up, or you’re dinner!

After I’d locked up the first hen, a second decided to get into the act. So I chased that one down and tossed her in the coop. The third hen wasn’t giving me any trouble, so she’s still running around the yard doing what chickens do.

I’m seriously considering whether to get rid of the chickens in any case. Despite all the anthropomorphous comments on this board, I’ve never observed anything that gives even the most remote indication that chickens have any intelligence beyond the ability not to suffocate in their own drool. They really are the dumbest creatures I’ve ever encountered. (Okay, I raised earthworms for a while, so maybe that’s not strictly true.)

Regards noise and the neighbors – I asked if the chickens bothered them , and they said, “No’ — chiefly because they were used to living on a larger tract of land where everything from turkeys to deer used to cross through at night. But if the answer is ever, “Yes”, the chickens are gone. On the plus side, they are aggressive with insects, turn the compost pile aggressively, provide entertainment for the dog (she likes to catch them and carry them around the yard – the chickens aren’t scared of her, but you can tell they get annoyed.), and of course, they lay eggs. On the downside, the noise, the mess and the fact that there’s nothing green in my back yard anymore is a bit irritating. The more sleep-deprived I get, the closer they get to the pot.

Paula March 20, 2011 at 3:35 am

I have read all these posts as my chickens squark in the back ground. Two hours now and its sunday morning. So I ran out to collect the eggs as someone suggested taking them away and there’s not one egg there. So why all the noise??

Tomato Lady March 20, 2011 at 7:02 am

Paula–I feel your pain. I wish I had the answer for you. Is this typical for them, or a one-time thing? Is this their first year laying? I’m thinking if this is an unusual event, maybe they were squawking at a predator or something scared them. If they are new birds, I would say that in my experience with my hens, they were noisier their first Spring as adult birds. They have calmed down considerably since that first laying time, but there did seem to be a lot more “discussion” about laying when they were new to it all. And sometimes when a bird sounds like she’s done her laying for the day, I go out there and it was much ado about nothing and she lays her egg later. Hang in there, I predict it will get better.

Nicole March 28, 2011 at 5:50 am

We bought 3 baby pullets 2 days ago. Right now they are in the house until the snow melts. Poor cookie this morning is upset because she was hungry. Now that she is fed, she still can’t calm herself down. I’m already in love with our babies and I can not wait for the eggs. I’m very surprised how quickly the pullets warmed up to us. They love being pet and talked to. Most of all, they love my homemade bread. Luckily our neighbors are spaced apart. I doubt they would hear the chickens from our house. We are allowed 7 chickens, including roosters. I hope they don’t get too noisy in the house the next few weeks. I’m not sure the heating lamp is warm enough for the babies outside. They are still so tiny.

Catherine May 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm

We put a radio in our garage where the chickens live. It cals and quiets them and drowns out whatever noise they do make. Since we live in a borough that doens’t allow chickens, this is really important! Works like a charm! Good luck.

Tomato Lady May 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Catherine–Nice. I like this. I don’t know why I never thought of this, almost all the stables I’ve ever visited use radios for the horses. Great idea.

Auntie Coco June 8, 2011 at 9:46 am

This made me laugh out loud! Most mornings, including this one, it’s not the alarm clock that wakes me . It’s the happy squawking of my eight layers in the side yard. I live in a densely populated area so, I try to keep the girls quiet in the early hours of the day. Which means, most mornings, my neighbors get to see me running out to the coop in my nightgown clutching treats(bribes). Corn on the cob is my ladies favorite and will keep them happily munching for hours.

Kimberly Cain July 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I’ve got not quite 8 week old chickens. So far not much noise unless I come out with spinach. Thanks for all the tips. The plan is to let them yard-range once they get big enough. I put a radio in the hen house (they are being raised there for now, it will be for laying later on) playing classical music. They seem to like it.

mammabird October 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

i had this problem. and before i got the hens i went door to door to get the OK from neighbors…i guess they changed there mind when they called the city about my loud backyard hens. i have found different breeds really make a difference. buff orpington, and black australorp are LOUD. barred rock however only cackle for about 5 minutes after they lay… so its been about a year since the new batch of ‘secret’ hens came and no complaints.

Ashley November 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I think I have had a breakthrough! As I mentioned on July 13th, I was also having loud girl problems. Your insight definitely helped – making sure that they had their food ready to go first thing was imperative. Since my post, I had acquired 4 more little girls, making 7 chickens. At the time, I was letting them all out of their coop and run, and between the running around sqwacking their heads off and the new girls laying eggs in every part of the yard imaginable and/or not roosting in their coop at night, I’d had enough. I consulted my local chicken expert, and he said that I had to coop them all up and leave them in the coop.

Well….I felt awful about it, and built them a larger run and then did the deed. At first it was pretty dramatic. The older girls beat up the younger girls like crazy to establish the packing order that they’d been avoiding the entire time. They were crazy and loud and sounded like they were all going to die. And the first few nights were a chore to get the new girls to learn how to use their ladder…lol. BUT…after a few days they all got the hand of living, laying, and roosting together. And the best part? They are about 10 times more quiet now! They still brag about their eggs sometimes, but nothing like they used to. I am pretty sure that a big part of their freak outs before were them trying to find their counterparts in the ‘big ol’ yard’ after they had gone back to the coop to lay.

Not sure if others have run into this, but had to share. They have been generally cooped together for about 3 months and it is great. I let them out in the yard occasionally in the afternoon after most of them are done laying their eggs, and they all go home on their own at night now. It’s like a whole new flock! 🙂 Hope this helps others…Thanks again! This has been a great forum for this issue!

Brad January 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

Usually it’s a hen who wants to be the boss or has Mother Hen syndrome. So what I do is Pin her in a spot, then as she zooms by, Hit her on the butt with a broom. That tells her she’s the quilty party and shows the others to not follow suit.

Diane January 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

I am having the same problem. Wasn’t sure if she was protecting the laying hens or angry that they were in her box? I have been trying to grab her when she is ‘being squawky’ and stick her in a dog crate and pop her in the shed for a few hours away from the other hens. I thought if she was being dominant the sepaeration would lower her in the pecking order and quiet her down…but no luck yet. My wyandottes never did this , they are sweet quiet girls. The problem started with my new hens, an Aracauna hybrid…who have always been louder. If I give the loud one to a friend, will another take it’s place?

Tomato Lady January 31, 2012 at 11:26 am

Diane–My hens are over two years old now, and very quiet–all the same girls, but they seldom make any noise. If you are willing to wait, they will probably quieten down. I was reading about this new book that looks cool–haven’t seen an actual copy yet, though. It promises ways to help keep the noise down, you might see if your library can order it:http://www.amazon.com/Free-Range-Chicken-Gardens-Beautiful-Chicken-Friendly/dp/1604692375/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328030774&sr=8-1

Danielle February 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I just stumbled across this post and had to comment; I am in the same situation except for the fact that I am the neighbor annoyed by the noisy chickens. Our neighborhood is not zoned for chickens and it is against our HOAs CC&Rs. These chickens wake me up in the morning and are as much of a nuisance as a neighbor who lets their dog bark and does nothing about it. We sleep with our bedroom window open (even when it is in the teens outside) and we are often woken by the sound of her blasted chickens making such a commotion.
Here is where I am coming from; we all read and agreed to the CC&Rs when we purchased our houses and each of the mini neighborhoods in our development have the same exact rules. This person took on the role of her HOA president solely for the reason that she wanted chickens and knew they weren’t allowed (she admitted this to me). I talked to her and told her I did not appreciate being woken by her chickens in the morning, she said she would move the chickens or keep them in the garage at night, which she never did. I called her out as a hypocrite that she is sending nasty grams to the neighbors who do not have the correct number of trees in their front yard, or park their boat in their driveway for longer than the 3 days allowed, yet she herself is breaking the ‘rules’ by keeping chickens. As a result of all this I have been ‘unfriended’ on facebook by some of the neighbors; which in reality I am truly fine with as they have shown they are not people I want to be friends with anyway (on a side note, these people live far enough away that they don’t hear the chickens in the early morning). My next option is to file a complaint with the county, which I haven’t done yet…
We do have the noise that comes with living in the suburbs, which include the lawnmowers, children at play, etc., but not once have I ever been woken in the early morning hours by any of these sounds.

I am all about living green, recycling, eating organic and real food, I purchase my organic eggs from a local farm. Just thought I would tell the story from the other side of the fence; all I ask is that when we live in close proximity to each other we all show consideration for each other.

Tomato Lady February 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Danielle–You raise an excellent point. Having chickens is no different from any other activity with the potential to make noise which wakes a neighbor. We should all respond appropriately to complaints, no matter how green the activity under consideration. It’s very unfortunate that you’re still having a problem after having told your neighbor about your issue. I’m going to email you the text from my chapter on conflict resolution in our book, Little House in the Suburbs–hopefully it will give you some ways to move toward a solution. I hope you and your neighbor can come to a meeting of the minds.
Daisy

Marta February 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm

As I’m reading all the comments, I’m getting more and more discouraged to get my chickens. I live in the suburbs too, I love animals, always have… I know I’m not in the zone for horses, but chickens? Why can’t I have chickens as pets. I’m paying over $ 9,000 in taxes and I’m not aloud to have a chicken in my backyard? What about people that own exotic animals like pytons and boa constuctors? How did this become legal? I don’t know, I was browsing internet looking for answeres and I guess I got them.Quiet chicken doesn’t exist….. My husband thinks I’m crazy anyways…Well

Tomato Lady February 11, 2012 at 12:40 am

Marta–I don’t discourage people in the suburbs from chickens. To the contrary, once your set-up is complete, they are among the most low-maintenance and least disturbing pets around. They only make noise during civilized hours, and once their first laying year is over, are less vocal with each passing year, in my experience. My closest neighbor enjoys my chickens so much, she sends them treats and says she feels like she’s out in the country when she hears them, in a good way. Check out our Neighbor chicken handout here: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2010/02/backyard-chicken-pr.html (It’s a pdf). Also our book has a chapter all about chickens in the burbs.

Marta February 11, 2012 at 7:52 am

Hi Tomato Lady,
Nooooo, I wasn’t discouraged by you at all, if anything , you gave me a reality check. I don’t think pets are disposible, so if I take a responsibility to care for one, I need to know all aspects.You know, like people buy a cute puppy in the store, they take it home and realize that the puppy poops and needs attention and after couple of months they dump him at the shelter….I don’t rule like this, so if it is not so legal in my town to have chickens, I need to come up with a good plan or think of a plan B in case my neighbor feels the same as Danielle. This is my husbands biggest fear as well, that’s why I’m doing so much homework.After all if we love chickens soooo much we should have bought the house on the farm, I get it, but we didn’t…..
I love your handout! I think it would come handy if needed. I just have to find the right place in my yard and get the courage to order the chicks.I was thinking 2 Australorps and 1 light brahama. Wish me luck, Tomato Lady, and thanks for replying so fast, I love and respect your knowledge, M

Mikki February 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

I have 3 Ohio Buckeyes, 1 Cochen & 1 Dominique. They are all just starting to lay and all I can say is I am glad I am in IN where it’s cold and my neighbors have their windows closed. They are out of control noisy!
I am zoned for up to 5 hens but I am so worried I have someone like Danielle in my neighborhood getting madder and madder about the noise. Our zoning says up to 5 unless someone complains then you have to get rid of them.
I think I am going to save all of the eggs for the next two weeks and distribute them to the neighbors with a loaf of homemade bread. Hopefully it will sooth any troubled waters that my be brewing. Any other suggestions?

Tomato Lady February 13, 2012 at 10:37 am

Mikki–I know the feeling. When I wrote this, my hens were on their first laying season, and they have gotten a lot quieter since. Also, being friends with my closest neighbor now, knowing she likes the chickens, really helps MY peace of mind. The bread and eggs sound like they will go a long way, plus you’ll probably get some feedback–I predict most people either won’t have noticed or they will tell you stories about how they used to live in the country and they miss hearing the sounds of the farm. If you take the eggs/bread, please write back and let us know how it went. You may have seen out Chicken Neighbor Handout. If anyone has questions, having a copy of that might help.

Marta February 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Hi Mikki,
LOL I was luaghing so hard when I read your story,not that I don’t feel sorry for you,It’s because I feel I’m going to be in the same position as you very soon.Chickens are not legal where I live, so wish me luck and lots of eggs. Maybe I should get more then 2 hens if I have to bribe all the neighbors. Please keep me posted, I’m dying to know if it gets better and how your neighbors react. I’m planning on getting my chicks next month and I’m sooooooo scared.Marta

David February 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm

To Deanna, Ref your CA artilce, Feb 14, 2012; I would suggest you and anyone else interested in chickens read the Shelbly County Ordinance, Part III, Residential Use Standards. 2.6.1.A.4: ” …the number of chickens permitted on a lot shall not exceed one bird per 1,500 square feet of lot size up to a maximum of 6 chickens….” Also, please note (this is my problem with a neighbor) “Rooster are prohibited except in the Conservation Agricultue (CA) District.” (this means on a farm or ranch)–not in a residential area. A rooster that crows 39 times in a 30 minutes period is a big pain…. Please pass this info along to all you encourage to raise chickens.

Cecil February 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm

This is a response to Brad, I hope no one here takes his advice on cornering, and then hitting a chicken, EVER! First of all chickens DO NOT “learn” by being hit or watching another chicken being hit. Second of all, bullying a chicken will only lend to her fear and may increase unwanted behavior. When a chicken is squaking loudly, a reasuring word from her keeper goes along way. Also, always do routine health checks on your birds to make sure they are physically sound. Please remember that hitting an animal is abusive and against the law. Brad, seems like you could benefit from some education on raising hens.

Cathy Page June 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Have loved reading all your comments. Tomatoe Lady…..I like you. I am really on my first chickens. I bought 4 straight runs, not really knowing what I was doing. I have learned everything the hard way. 3 our of 4 were roosters. I live where the CC & R’s do not allow chickens – but I got them anyway as our backyard is huge. We are currently trying to get out of here and buy a place in the country. None of my neighbors have said anything yet, as I got rid of the roosters and kept trying. I now have 1 Austorlorpe and 2 Americana’s. The Austrolorpe started laying a few days ago and just laid her 4th egg. She came out of the coop a spawking. I thought maybe it hurt to lay the egg. Is that a possiblility?

worried mom June 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm

hi, we hatched out 3 wonderful hens who my children just adore. we were going to move and everything was good, then we didn’t and the HOA’s don’t allow chickens!! my children want to do 4h with them and love on them so much. we had them in the yard for over a year and then a neighbor saw them and complained. we now can’t have them and I have them in a city chicken cage in the garage, is this bad for them to live in the garage?? we let them in the house at times, which is what they loved when they were outside too. we are getting more eggs now too!! I just done want to hurt them in anyway. what do you think??

Daisy June 10, 2012 at 6:19 am

Cathy Page–Thank you!
You know, while it’s impossible to know exactly how a chicken feels, I would say it’s more an announcement or, in the case of novice layers, surprise! They all do it, so it is normal behavior. Enjoy your girls!

Daisy June 10, 2012 at 6:24 am

worried mom–Chickens are adaptable, and yours certainly seemed doted on. Your HOA’s rules seem a bit outdated. You might consider seeking an amendment to those rules. There’s a lot of online information and support about promoting chicken acceptance in built up areas. Look around and see if you can find some local support. Maybe some of your other neighbors want to be self-sufficient and eco-friendly as well!

worried mom June 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

dear daisy, thank you so much for the nice words. after I got the letter telling us to get rid of them and that if I didn’t I’d be charged every day I kept them I ran to the head of the HOA’s house to let her know that they were no longer in my yard and ask what I could do to change the rules? she notified me that several other people have tried to change the rules and that she also had to get rid of her doves!! I said “how sad, we need to work on this”! and she said “I wouldn’t live any other way and will make sure they never get changed”!!! so I told her I was getting a goat and left. I may have to foster out as my husband left over this as he thinks keeping them in the garage is not kind, but my son really does pamper them. I just wanted to make sure the lack of sunshine didn’t hurt them, but its cloudy here mostly anyway!! funny how we wanted them for organic eggs that I couldn’t afford to buy from others, but when outside walking around they really took my stress away, I love to watch them. they are so soft and have their own personalities, really a pet and they want to be with us too! to funny. thanks again for your help.

Daisy June 10, 2012 at 10:19 am

worried mom–Is there any way you could find out who the other people are who’ve tried to change the rules? There is strength in numbers. I’m not sure I understand about the head of the HOA–she had doves and had to get rid of them and she’s happy with the rules?
If you do foster out, then you can try to work to get the rules amended following all the right channels–there has to be a protocol, I imagine. Then hopefully you can get your girls back.

worried mom June 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

she had to get rid of the doves before she became the head, but still likes the rules, strange. I will start digging and see what I can do, people just don’t understand how great chickens are and fight change. maybe a patition? thanks. I’ll work on the foster care, until then they live in the garage.

Daisy June 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm

worried–Have courage. Change is never easy. I hope it works out for you, and I’ll keep a good thought.

Ben July 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

Oh yes, Cecil, everytime I give a reassuring word to my hens, they shut right up. Get real! Brad is right, give her a tap with a broom like you are shoeing her away or corralling her toward the coup. It usually works but not always. Sometimes I pick up the hen and hold it in my arms until she squirms to get free and then I’ll let her go and she seems to forget about being so noisy.

SOFLA Chicks January 20, 2013 at 5:46 am

My partner and I have 8 Buff Orpingtos in a small lot house in Ft Lauderdale where local zoning does not allow them, no roosters. We took a half dozen eggs to the closest neighbors when “the girls” as we call them began laying and making noise and told them to let us know if they became a nuisance. The chickens are in a coop at the farthest point from each house. I normally let them out around 8:30 or 9 am and they do their thing around the yard and take turns laying eggs back in the coop where they make their usual sounds one or two at a time. Then it’s lights out at sunset and all back into the coop for the night. I plan on checking back with the neighbors again in the next week or two to make sure they are OK. Many of our homes have impact windows (South Florida) so you can hardly hear them when closed but we’ve been having really nice weather and everyone has their windows open during the winter.
I have noticed that if I approach the chicken that is making noise with my hand above and from behind they tend to squat and stop making noise for a bit. Then I pet her and try to use reassuring sounds (like you would to a dog) you know like “good girl, please be quiet or the neighbors will complaint”. I have a feeling they will begin to be less vocal as the laying is not such a new occurrence anymore… we’ll see. Hope this helps 🙂

Lenore March 28, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I’m like Danielle. I am a neighbor who is also annoyed by the chickens kept next door. The hens cluck loudly constantly, I can’t even open my windows to ventilate during the day without being bombarded by constant cackling. And every time I exit the house (our most-used entry faces their chicken coop) the chickens go nuts, perhaps feeling threatened. I don’t know. but whatever the reason, it’s just unpleasant enough that I cannot enjoy my yard anymore.

Before the chickens, all we hear in our neighborhood were birds chirping, distant traffic/plane noise, and very quiet overall. Not even dogs barking (occasional bark, but it’s not all day, and most definitely not every day). so the racket the hens make REALLY stands out, especially when they are only few feet away. All of our friends who have visited was like, “Wow! What was that!?”

In our situation, the city allows hens, but the hen must be confined in the back lot, and must be at least 35ft from any dwelling, and cannot make noise to disturb the peace of the neighborhood. Well, inter-house distance here (we’re in a dense suburb) is 55ft, and minimum required is 70ft for a sliver of a cage. There is nowhere in the yard the neighbor can keep a chicken coop without violating the distance code (they have this huge house that took up most of the lot, so they don’t have much yard space).

Talking to them is futile. These people build without permits (and get caught by the city), ignore complaints from the neighbor, just have a very strong sense of entitlement and generally have the attitude “it’s our property, we can do whatever we want with it”, regardless of what the ordinance states (they just ignore it if it’s inconvenient).

So I called the city code enforcement, and can only hope they do something about it. But given this neighbor builds without permits, kills 50+yr old protected trees with impunity (this is also illegal in our city. so they got cited for it).

I understand the allure of having your own chickens. But as with any dog, stereo, etc., that can cause noise nuisance, your rights should be tempered with consideration to others around you.

Daisy March 28, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Lenore–I feel for you. When you can’t enjoy going out in your yard anymore, that isn’t good. Have you considered mediation? The National Association for Community Mediation is a good resource (www.nafcm.org). It’s certainly cheaper than hiring a lawyer, if that’s one of the options you’ve been weighing. Your city may also have a community mediator. We have a chapter in our book (the one in the right hand sidebar) that addresses problems with neighbors that may be designed with the chicken-owner in mind, but which actually works both ways. If you would like to read just that chapter, I can email you the text. Just let me know. I hope you can come to a good solution soon.

John April 14, 2013 at 10:51 am

best way to keep chickens in a no -chicken zone, is to keep seramas. i live in a no – chickens zone too. and that said, there is no way you could keep large fowl and not get away with it… my serama’s cackle, or squak sounds like this, “Bak Bak Bak BAKAH! she is very loud even as a little bird. the beauty of seramas is that they are pathetic when they cackle my next door neighbor only found out when she saw my coop through the hedges. she even wants seramas herself! get 4 – 6 seramas. they might are small and dont require alot of space, but four eggs from a serama is great breakfast!!!!! if you live in a neighborhood that only allows hens, you might even get away with having a serama rooster!!! their crow is a 3 times smaller than a regular rooster.
email: [email protected] for serama eggs! and tell him John sent you!
He sells serama hatching eggs, and Adult seramas! for the adult seramas you must live in or near Seattle, WA… give them a try! they are also the sweetestr birds!

Patrizia May 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I’ve had chickens (hens only) for about 15 years and have never had a problem with neighbors in my suburban area. My neighbors’ dogs are a constant barking nuisance where I’ve had to call the city against them. I have a large dog and I do expect dog noise but not constant and annoying sounds.

With that being said, I have 2 young hens which have developed an irritating habit of loudly calling me at daybreak and whenever they know I’m in the backyard but they can’t see me. This is a separate call from when they lay eggs (they are both hens for sure). It sounds like a peacock call and is very loud. It echos throughout my neighborhood as a distinctive sound not fitting in, like an exotic bird or something. When I approach the hens making the noises or distract them with food, they stop calling. This has been going on for months. I’m finding them a new home on a farm because I cannot do this to my family, nor my neighbors. I’m also risking that these behaviors will be picked up by my other hens, which are very quiet. I’ve never encountered hens acting like this, and I’m sad to have to move them out. I’m grandfathered to have chickens in an area where they are now illegal, and I don’t want to push my luck. The two noisemakers are a Mille Fleur Belgian D’ Uccle and a Dark Brahma bantam.

Joe Clark June 10, 2013 at 2:59 am

Dear All,

I have two Hens which are starting to become too noisy. I live in a suburb and I really do not want to upset any of my neighbours. I really love chickens and I do not want to get rid of them – I’m stuck!
The hens are starting to wake me up in the morning. As soon as I hear them, I rush downstairs and try to hush them down. It’s as if they either want treats all the time or be let out of their chicken run. I have a huge chicken run but it seems that they still want to walk around the garden.
I always do their food and water the night before, but it seems they become bored too easily and want attention all the time.
Someone suggested to chuck water on them when they crow, but I was reluctant to do that. When I did do that, it seemed to still not solve the issue.
Does anyone know of any ideas or suggestions to keep the hen’s occupied?
Many thanks for your help.

Joe

Daisy June 10, 2013 at 5:54 am

Joe–I really sympathize with you. I’ve had a similar feeling. One thing that might help is to relate that since I wrote this post my hens have gotten quieter with age. They seem to go through a point soon after they begin laying that first year when they are noisiest. The other is that I never had any complaints to the city (or to my face) about them. It’s tough when you are listening to every peep out of them–it gets magnified in your own mind (at least in mine) and it seems louder than it really is. Start listening to all the barks and other noises–they really make more noise than my hens many times over.
It also sounds like you may have unwittingly “trained” your hens a bit by going out when they start to put up a racket. As hard as it may be, you might try ignoring them until a “decent hour” to see if they forget what a rewarding response they get by waking you up. Limiting the light that gets to them may also be a possibility, depending on your coop set-up. If they don’t know dawn is upon them yet, you might be able to reset their clock a bit. Hope others have suggestions, and hang in there! It probably isn’t as bad as you think!

Patrizia June 10, 2013 at 6:33 am

Hey Joe,
I’ve cut the egg-notice clucking down by removing the eggs right away and then distracting them with a choice treat (bugs, chard, bread, etc…). Mine are not always loud to vocalize that there are eggs in the nest, but sometimes, one of them will go on and on about it. If I’m home, the distraction usually works.
I did find a home for my peacock-calling hens (the Mille Fleur and Brahma bantam) because they would vocalize almost all day. They were good egg layers and not loud when doing so, but they made up for it the rest of the time.
I would also suggest that you not leave feed out at night because you are enticing vermin to enter your chicken area. Let the hens be hungry for morning when they are most active, and you might be able to silence them with their food.
I know of one person who has used one of those Audubon bird clocks which chime on the hour. They set it right inside the doorway to their little coop. The clock sounds distract the neighbors into thinking there are really chicken sounds going on, and the chicken sounds almost become part of the clock venue…lol. You’d have to turn it off at night, though.
Enjoy your chickens. There’s nothing quite as entertaining or comforting to watch.

M E March 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I have been keeping chickens for 2 years now in a TOWHOUSE in vancouver. I have raised my girls since they were a few days old. Through trial and error I have slowly worked out systems to make keeping chickens in such a tight space work. Your best bet is to lock your girls in their inner coop compartment at night until about 9 or 10 in the morning this eliminates complaints for early morning noise. As far as when one or sometimes 2 of our hens want to get extra loud I stare at the offending hen with a death glare and point so she knows I’m focused in on her. Then if the noise persists I run outside and grab her and give her some firm but light handed smacks. The other hens just watch and when it’s been done there will be no more over the top noise from that hen for at least a day or a few even. I know there are going to be people out there who are like omg you hit your chickens you monster. Probably the same types who raise monster children and are afraid to discipline them as well. Matt E in van
“Chicken Boss”

Daisy March 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Matt E–omg you hit your chickens, you monster! 😉 *Preemptive strike*

lol, I have to laugh because for some reason I am picturing Curly doing this.

M E March 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Also forgot to mention. I never discipline for the egg or danger song or if they are upset about water or what have you. But if I’m out there and have assessed things as fine and sometimes they just want to make noise that is when you discipline. I also disciplined my hen out of eating eggs early on and also used it to break the cycle of a couple of the hens from picking on one of the gentler hens. I learned this from watching the roosters. They would keep the other hens in line and if you don’t have one that’s going to have to be your job. I have a healthy happy flock of the most beautiful birds who all love people and will come when called from over a half a block away.

Courtney April 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

My ladies are just a year old (apr ’13) and have been laying since sept ’13. Every morning at day break they squawk and scream to be let out. They’re spoiled as we built a run big enough to keep them in all the time.
I live in a residential/suburban neighborhood and I work from home. Every morning I spend the first two hours (at least) of the day distracting them from their screaming and squawking. Distractions (treats, stearn voice, drinking from the hose, etc) lasts for about 20 minutes. I have a Wyandotte, barred rock and an Easter egger. And it’s not egg song or danger call.

I’m exhausted from never sleeping in anymore and stressed about their noise as we have close neighbors. In our case, there really aren’t a lot of other noises that compete. These seem to be just loud (2 of them) ladies.

Is it really true that they get quieter with age? After a year old or a year of laying?

I love them for their eggs, compost pile working, fertilizer for our many fruit trees and lovely personalities and affection (from the barred rock) but I’m so tired of getting up before sunrise every single day and wasting 2+ hours of my morning. New homes are next but I’ve been avoiding it because I really like them 21 hours of the day.

Advice? Suggestions? Thank you!

Daisy April 25, 2014 at 8:23 am

Courtney–Hang in there. You sound exhausted. They DO get quieter after their first season as laying hens. You also get more used to hearing them and chilled out because no one seems to care. I had a neighbor one house over ask me the other day if I still had chickens. He had only ever heard them when I had a rooster for a while, and poopooed the idea that they were ever a bother. I think you will find that to be the case 99% of the time. My next door neighbor says she likes hearing the “country” sounds, comes and feeds them her scraps and talks to them through the fence. Getting to know the neighborhood really helps. Take cookies! Hope things work out for you! Convince your neighbors to have hens too and then nobody will have anything to complain about! Also, after the first year, they quit laying for the most part from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, which means they have little to squawk about. Of course that also means fewer eggs, but you still get great compost eaters, soil builders, and companions/scenery while they are being quiet.

TLC MicroFarm May 24, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Courtney – which of your 3 hens is the quiet one? I’m trying to figure out a quieter breed. Someone mentioned earlier that their Wyandottes are pretty quiet. My Easter Egger and BR are sooooo loud, especially now that the EE started laying last week.

Sandi June 11, 2014 at 12:07 am

Hi all, I am in the UK and have had 3 Warren chickens for a few months. They are amazing everyone loves them, got great neighbours, they are in my brick built outhouse (the chicks not the neighbours )They lay beautifully every day the most fabulous eggs, are sociable. I have a huge garden so they free range from morn till night with my rottie x watches over them. This is obviously a scene from paradise island. There’s a BUT….
They love to squawk between 6 – 8 every morning, just one of them I think, and I rush down to let them into the garden, then they’re happy to get out. I’m a considerate neighbour also. But now I think I have unwittingly trained them to do this. They like to briefly announce they’ve laid an egg, no problem with that, its the early morning hello thats the issue. I cant let them annoy the neighbours and I’m tired out, any ideas for this one? Ive read the posts on here, just not sure which would apply…first year of laying by the way, living in hope it passes maybe but think ive added to the problem by responding. Thanks in advance ….

Daisy June 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

Sandi–I’ve been there. Here’s my 2 cents: If you are in communication with your neighbors, tell them your dilemma and ask for their patience while you show the offending chicken some tough love. Take them some homemade biscuits and tell them you think if they can put up with a little early vocalization for a while that you think it will diminish over time. They will probably tell you that it hasn’t been bothering them and that you can relax and worry about other things! I love your chicken garden! Do you have somewhere I could see pictures?

Sam January 22, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Hi guys! I live in the country and we have 6 acres. My Hens and roos are all loud right now as it seems to be mating season for them. I know my neighbors can hear them sound travels and space really doesn’t make much difference in a wide open area. I would give them free eggs but they are the type that would never eat anything not from a store and spray their yard with toxic remuda every year. The type that move to the country only to make it look like the city. They think animals are dirty. My point is that you are gonna make your neighbors mad wherever you live and people that live anywhere can hate chickens. If you are in a small area 1-2 females is best and 1 rooster fitted with a no crow collar is about the best you can do. If it is illegal I would move.

Daisy January 23, 2015 at 8:18 am

Sam–Interesting point. There’s no escape, is there? Never heard of crow collars before!

Rodolfo February 11, 2015 at 1:04 pm

hi guys, I live in Miami fl I am planning to buy 5 hens , I am building a chicken coop very isolated inside and 3 windows with small air conditioning, after laying the eggs neighbors won’t hear the cackle of the hens, on mine days off I ‘ll allow them to walk and eat grass, insects,worm under the mulch that I make with a chipper shredder, I hope to help a little bit, don’t give up , good luck every one.

Henhouse July 3, 2016 at 5:56 am

I’ve come to this forum topic for the same reason as others…one of my Golden Lace Wyandotte 1 year old hens has become the “alpha girl” now makes awful screaming sounds each early morning bakbaba bababak BABABAAAAAAAK! multiple times very loud, enough to wait me up – probably the neighbors as well – I’m illegal. It’s not her egg song – she lays mid morning. She clearly is a crowing hen, becoming dominant. Earlier in the spring I acquired three Barnvelder pullets to add to my flock of two. I keep them in two separate pens, in sight of each other and was waiting for the pullets to get larger in size (3-4 months old) before blending them together. Things were fine, the dominant hen and her sister would watch the pullets intently, a little clucking, laying eggs. The pullets have shot up to a more mature size within the last week or two and I think the Wyandotte hen is staking her ground. Yesterday I was shocked to hear one of the Barnvelders screaming back the same song, albeit a shorter quieter version. This may seem counter intuitive, but I’m thinking that blending the hens together will resolve the issue where the Wyandotte hen can exert her seniority on the pecking order and things will get on. So I think what folks are writing about is a dominant hen who has taken the the head position in the flock – much like a rooster would.

Daisy July 3, 2016 at 6:38 am

Henhouse–The chicken coop is quite the stage for some drama, isn’t it? I think your plan just might work! Please let us know how things turn out.

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