Hens are generally very talkative birds, and some chicken keepers consider the continuous clucking in the flock to be noisy.
With a couple of exceptions, most of the clucks, songs, and other sounds hens make are not extremely loud.
Hens are known to sing loudly during egg-laying or when they perceive danger, but can they crow like a rooster?
Although uncommon, a hen can crow loudly like a rooster, but it is not a cause for concern. Hens will usually start crowing to establish flock dominance in the absence of a rooster. A hen will also crow if she has too much testosterone.
A hen’s crow has a slightly different sound when compared to a rooster’s crow, and an inexperienced chicken owner may not be able to tell them apart.
A crowing female chicken may come as quite a surprise to a backyard chicken farmer who does not have any roosters.
Keep reading to learn more about why hens will crow like roosters and some tips for getting them to stop.
Can Hens Start Crowing?
Every flock of chickens has a hierarchy known as a pecking order.
At the top of the pecking order, the chicken will watch the flock and protect them from predators.
Roosters are more dominant than hens, so they are usually the overseers of the flock.
A good flock ratio has one rooster for every 6 to 10 hens.
Having too many roosters dramatically increases the chances of fighting and aggressive behavior in the flock.
If you have never had a rooster, or if yours has died and you do not get another one, a mature hen will become the flock leader.
When a hen is working to establish herself at the top of the pecking order, she may exhibit more assertive behavior and start crowing like a rooster.
A hen’s crow lets the rest of the flock know she is the dominant female.
Occasionally, a hen’s body will experience a rise in testosterone levels either due to genetics or an ovary failure.
This hormonal imbalance also causes the hen to start crowing and behaving like a rooster.
There have also been reports of hens crowing simply to mimic the rooster.
What Does It Mean When Chickens Crow?
Aside from alerting the rest of the flock to the start of a new day, roosters crow to establish dominance, warn of a threat, and as part of their mating ritual. Roosters will also crow in the evening to round up the flock when it is time to get in the coop.
A rooster may crow up to 15 times a day for various reasons.
If there is more than one male in a flock, the most dominant rooster will be the first one to crow in the morning.
The less dominant chickens will begin to crow only after the head rooster does.
Depending on the breed of chicken, roosters start to crow when they are between 8 and 20 weeks old.
The rooster will continue to crow throughout its life, only stopping due to old age, illness, injury, or bullying.
If your chickens are being particularly loud with each other, it is best to monitor your flock for any signs of aggression or bullying.
Loud crowing may also signify a predator or other threat near the flock.
The rooster will crow an alarm call to alert the flock of the danger and may also attempt to scare the predator.
Roosters are also known to crow after mating too.
A rooster will crow to let the rest of the flock know it is time to seek shelter for sleep.
Check out our full list of chicken sounds and what they mean.
Why Is Your Hen Acting Like A Rooster?
In a flock without a rooster, the most mature hen will become more dominant to be a leader. The hen will crow and exhibit other behaviors known to roosters, such as strutting and becoming more aggressive.
If you have noticed your hen behaving like a rooster, it may come as a surprise, but there is a reason behind it.
The dominant hen will almost always be the oldest female chicken in the flock, as she is the most likely to be at the top of the pecking order.
If the hen becomes too territorial and starts to bully the rest of the flock, you will need to isolate her until she is calm again.
By the time the hen’s temperament becomes more docile, another hen will have established dominance of the flock, and the overall mood will be calmer.
Another way to prevent a hen from being too aggressive is to add a rooster to the flock.
The rooster will naturally become the flock’s leader, and the hen will be less aggressive and territorial.
Can Hens Turn Into Roosters?
If a hen’s body experiences a rise in testosterone, her body will change to resemble a rooster. The hen may grow a larger comb and wattle, she will start crowing regularly and will likely stop laying eggs. However, it is impossible for a hen to become a true rooster.
Aside from acting like a rooster, is it possible for a hen to become a rooster?
So, what causes this increase of testosterone in a hen’s body?
Hens, much like humans, are born with two ovaries.
The left ovary produces all of the estrogen a hen needs for egg-laying, and the right ovary stays small and dormant.
If the left ovary is damaged and stops producing estrogen, the level of testosterone will increase in the hen’s body.
She will begin to develop similar physical traits and behavior as a rooster.
As estrogen levels in the hen decrease, the right ovary may develop into a male sex organ, sometimes capable of producing sperm.
The hen will never be able to fertilize an egg, but she will look and behave like a rooster, including crowing.
The female will have more masculine features like a larger comb and wattle, and she may also develop spurs.
Most hens with a damaged left ovary usually stop laying eggs when their testosterone levels are high enough.
Hens affected by high testosterone levels are said to have a spontaneous sex reversal.
Around 1 in every 10,000 hens will experience a spontaneous sex reversal, which means out of 22.85 billion chickens, up to 2,285 hens possibly developed male sex hormones.
The most common cause of reproductive damage in hens is ovarian cancer.
Up to one-third of all hens will develop ovarian cancer before three years old.
Age is also a factor in the hormone shift as a hen’s ovaries may stop working when they are older.
How Do You Stop a Hen From Crowing?
The most common methods of getting a hen to stop crowing include adding a rooster or new hens to the flock or using a “No-Crow” collar. Isolating the crowing hen from the rest of the flock for a short period will also stop her from crowing.
Once you know why your hen is crowing like a rooster, it is possible to take the steps necessary to prevent it.
Adding a rooster to the flock will prevent the hen from being dominant, and she will stop crowing.
Research the local ordinances where you live before you decide to get a rooster.
Some areas do not allow roosters in backyard chicken coops due to the loud noise.
If you are not allowed to have a rooster, adding a new hen to the flock is also an effective way to get a hen to stop crowing.
You may even add a more dominant chicken breed such as a Leghorn or Rhode Island Red to ensure a change in the pecking order.
Related: Will Rhode Island Reds get along with other chickens?
A No-Crow collar is a fast and easy way to make your dominant hen quieter.
The collar restricts the hen’s airflow slightly and prevents the bird from making loud sounds.
While the No-Crow collar does not completely stop the hen from crowing, it will make her quieter.
As a last resort, you may have to separate the crowing hen from the rest of the flock until she has calmed down.
While the loud hen is in isolation, the other hens will establish a new pecking order.
Once the hen is able to be reintroduced back into the flock, she will be much calmer.
A healthy diet and a clean living area are also important for keeping your hens from crowing.
Maintaining your flock’s coop and offering nutritious food will not stop a hen from crowing, but it will help prevent ovarian failure and other illnesses.
Keep your hen strong and healthy by ensuring she has all of the essential nutrients for egg production.
If a hen is not getting enough nutrition, her body will leech vitamins and minerals from internal organs and bones to produce eggs.
Over time, the hen becomes more susceptible to illnesses, leading to ovarian failure.
Adding a small amount of kelp to the chicken feed will help your hen maintain stable hormone levels.