Do Hens Make Noise?

Yes, indeed hens make noise. Far less than a rooster, but when it comes time to lay an egg you often get the stereotypical hen vocalization, technically known as “cackling,” which goes something like, “cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCKAAAAAWWWWK!” Thankfully this only happens around laying time, which for our three productive hens is no more than once a day, and usually at a respectable time between around 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Some of our club hopping neighbors may get an early than wanted wake-up call, but so far nobody has complained.

Being naive first time chicken owners, the first time we heard this sound caught us by surprise. We suspected that it’s the result of discomfort from squeezing out an egg, or some wonder of selective breeding, a way to announce to the poultry farmer, “Hey, time to collect an egg!” In fact, research presented by University of Sheffield animal scientists Tommaso Pizzari and Tim R. Birkhead, in an article entitled “For whom does the hen cackle? The function of postoviposition cackling,” posit that cacking is a way for hens to get the message out to nearby roosters that they ain’t in the mood. As Pizzari and Brikhead put it, “One function of postoviposition cackling may thus be to avoid the costs of sexual harassment by signalling to males a particularly unsuitable time for fertilization.” This contradicts earlier theories that cacking was, in fact, an invitation to boogie.

For those who’ve never heard it, we’re pleased to present the postoviposition cackling sounds of one of our barred rock hens. Towards the end of the track you’ll hear the usual soft clucking. For the DJs out there, please feel free to use for mashups, mixes and QuinceaƱeras:

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  1. I assumed (apparently wrongly) that the cackling was to communicate to the other hens that the egg is coming. When one of my hens lay an egg, they all start getting excited like a bunch of Hippies at a home birth.

  2. Unfortunately for me – my neighbors have a hen house and a rooster…. The noise drives me Crazy!! If its not the rooster at 4am.. it’s the hens cackling all day……………. I HATE IT

  3. well, my girls cluck when they want out. There is no rooster and no egg is laid. They just start clucking and when I come out, they all gather at the door. just a bunch of spoiled hens!!

  4. Phew thats a relief, just notice my bantams making a noise I hadn’t heard before – cross between a cluck and a grown, and was worried but your recording has reassured me. So I’ll expect an egg today :o)

  5. thats funny…when my hen goes to lay an egg she get a chant from the other 2 roosters and 1 other hen

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