How Loud Are Hens?

We all know that roosters are loud, what with their cock-a-doodle-doing all day long. That’s one reason why towns and cities ban the boys. It’s true that hens don’t crow, but that doesn’t mean that your flock will be quietly unobtrusive. Sure, some hens go about their days saying nothing. Others chuck-chuck and bawk-bawk in low pitches, almost under their breath, like they’re talking to themselves. Some only up the volume when they’ve laid their eggs, announcing the achievement with a quick squawk and then returning to their quiet lives.

But other hens are loud. Very loud. Onyx, my Barnevelder, is a talker. She broadcasts that she’s stepped into the coop. She lets everyone knows that she’s going back outside. A half-hour before laying an egg she’ll increase the volume while stomping around the barn. Etheldred is another one that wants to be heard. This video is less than 30 seconds, but it’ll give you a good idea of the racket that a couple of loud hens can make.

But neither of these two girls compare to my late and much missed New Hampshire Red hen, Marge. She and her twin sister, Petunia, always traveled side by side, but it was easy to tell them apart. You knew it was Marge by her vocalizations. She was like an ever-present haranguing, argumentative, demanding aunt. She’d watch me garden, constantly clucking in what sounded like a stream of criticisms. “You’re doing what?” “Not there!” “Toss me the bug, now!” Petunia never said a word. Marge had such an insistent, unique voice that we made it into a ringtone. I have it on my iPhone timer. When I put money into a parking meter, I set the timer to remind me when the time is up. There’s nothing like having Marge squawking at me to get me running to the car. If you have an iPhone, you can hear her (and get the ringtone) by going to the iTunes store and searching for HenCam.

When you have a loud hen (or two, or three) you worry, and rightly so, that the noise will bother your neighbors. Certainly the cackling of a hen is not pretty or melodic. If you happen to have a chicken that makes most of her vocalizations in the morning, you can keep the coop dark (and the inhabitants asleep) until a reasonable hour. But, most noisy hens are noisy all day. Fences and screening with sound-absorbing plants make for good neighbors. Keeping the hens busy with compost and greens keeps their beaks pecking instead of talking. Siting the coop under your bedroom window, not the neighbor’s, is the prudent thing to do. But, honestly, if you have a noisy hen, well, it’ll be noisy. It helps to keep it in perspective. For example, Onyx isn’t half as loud as my neighbor’s lawn mower. Etheldred’s voice can’t drown out the sound of an idling FedEx truck. A neighbor’s barking dog is as loud as Garnet (another noisy girl here.) And if you have a hen like Marge, when she’s gone it will be markedly quieter and you’ll miss the hubbub.



  1. I had often thought about suggesting adding audio to the cams……….maybe not!

  2. One question I usually get when someone finds out I keep hens in suburbia is don’t the neighbors complain about the noise? (the first question I usually get is, don’t they stink?!)
    First, only one small rooster.
    Second, If anyone complains then I will turn the tables and complain about the two dogs three houses up that start barking at 5:30 am and the owners don’t seem to care. I can’t hear them in the house but my dogs can and it wakes them up and they want to start their day.
    The kids two doors up that make noise all day long as they play basketball, ride their bikes etc. This doesn’t bother me (actually I like the life) but I could complain about it and the list could go on.
    People then seem to get my point.

  3. I love the different voices of my hens. It’s funny how you get to recognize them and enjoy the differences. I have a Barred Rock who goes in the coop each night and sounds like a low Morse Code of dots and dashes. One of my Wellsummers sounds like a goose. Fortunately I live outside of town and don’t have to worry about the neighbors. Their bigger concern would be my mini donkeys anyway, or the rooster.

  4. I found your website late yesterday afternoon. I have enjoyed reading about and watching your chickens. My grandfather had chickens that ran loose on the farm and an area where they could roost and lay eggs. It wasnt unusual to find a hen laying eggs in an unapproved spot. There were always at least two roosters. I truly miss those days of going to retrieve the eggs and sometimes being chased by the moma when we tried to catch the chicks.

  5. Our hens are quite noisy all day long. I work at home and get to enjoy their conversations while I type. We recently lost our rooster and I miss his crowing (from dawn to dusk!!!) Thankfully, we live in a neighborhood full of chickens, geese, horses, goats, cows and just about any other farm animals you can think of. I hear them all…especially at feeding time. I grew up in the ‘burbs, and never got this experience. When we bought this house we had to sign a document advising us that this neighborhood is zoned agricultural and we couldn’t complain about ag smells and sounds. I love it!

    • That’s the right type of zoning! There’s a subdivision in my town that doesn’t allow hanging laundry, rabbit hutches or chickens in the back, and no vegetable gardens. Just big, green empty lawns.

  6. Loved the loud hens! Actually, Ethelred sounds a bit like a cranky Amazon parrot I had growing up. Thanks for sharing!

  7. My six hens are a year old now. They can individually get squawky after they lay. The two speckled Sussex, however, can start the moment they get up and take only short rests. My neighbors get fresh eggs and don’t complain. I have found neighbors in my yard checking on the hens when the noise levels have been raucous and the humans have been concerned that there might be a predator. The wonders and delights of living in a community!

  8. Our hens just turned 18 Weeks and some have started laying a few days ago. I picked Redstars and an Australorp because the breed description said quiet and docile. Apparently they did not get the memo! I can hear them inside the house from their coop announcing they either may lay or have laid an egg.

  9. Thank you for this post! I LOVE listening to the hens ‘talk.’

  10. I enjoyed hearing your loud girls. I worry about mine, waking the whole neighborhood Maisie, my tiny Dominique,or Miss Bossypants, as I call her, commences loud squawking as soon as she hops down from the roost and goes outside to the small enclosed run, around 5:00 am this time of year. I know she is scolding me for not bringing morning treats (sprouted grains) right away. She does this loud, demanding thing every time I step out the back door, or when she sees me through the windows, inside the house. When I’m out gardening, she keeps up a low, constant, disappointed-sounding noise that sounds like muttering or complaining. Too funny but possibly not all think loud bird sounds are adorable.

  11. This was a fun read—and thank you for the video, too! I would love chickens and am going to have to fight the city to get them. However, we have a little yappy dog directly behind us that barks and even howls from about 6AM ’till past midnight; a UPS truck swings by at least 2x a day and idles right across the street (those folks must be big shoppers!); another, larger dog 3 doors down that barks throughout the day and night; and people across the street who spend inordinate amounts of time working on their hot rod (that happens to be so loud when they rev its engine for 15 minutes at a time, my artwork vibrates on the walls). A few hens, however loud, should not be an issue!

    Oh, there are horses and sheep just half a block away.

    Are there really breeds less likely to be loud than others?