He is the BCIC

Big Chicken in Coop

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So you get your backyard chickens thinking you’ll have a coop full of hens providing you with baskets full of eggs, and lo and behold!  One of them starts crowing!  “Well this is great”, you think.  “I’ll have a charming morning alarm, and I needed to start getting up a little earlier anyway.”  After a few days, you quickly begin to realize that your country charm is going off multiple times a day and, what’s this?  At three in the morning too?  Wait a minute!  In the movies you get that adorable morning wake-up crow and then the rooster just struts around looking gorgeous.  What happened? Did I get a defective rooster?  How do I make him behave?

No, your rooster isn’t defective, and I’m sorry to tell you that there is nothing you can do to convince him to stop sounding off whenever he thinks it’s important.  Your new gentleman crower has a job to do and he's not going to let a little thing like your sanity get in the way.  His crow is a major part of his communication with the hens and the rest of the world.  There is no way to train a rooster not to crow, but maybe I can help you see life from his perspective and you can work on being a little more accepting.  Besides, listening to the little boy next door have a crow-off with your rooster is adorable.

Roosters have a high stress life

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“High stress?  Give me a break – all he does is wander around eating treats.”  That may be what you see, but your rooster knows his job is to protect the ladies, his flock of hens, from any predators.  While the girls are happily chattering and fighting over the best clover, the man of the yard is in charge.  He is constantly on alert, watching the skies and the bushes for possible predators. To keep the hens as protected as possible he keeps his ladies together and will round up a straggler if she gets too far from the rest of the flock.  Sudden movement will cause him, or one of the girls to let out a loud warning "bok" causing the flock to freeze while he evaluates the danger.  Despite his brave demeanor and good intentions, your feathered flock protector is well aware that he’s only armed with a beak and a set of claws.  Knowing that fighting is not his strong suit, he takes the tack that prevention is the best course of action. Your rooster will loose his mighty roar – his crow - at frequent intervals to warn all and sundry that he is on guard.  If the worst does happen and a predator attacks the flock, a good rooster will stand his ground, fighting the enemy while the ladies run to safety.  Pretty darn stressful.


Reassurance in a feathered form

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Your rooster uses his voice as more than a warning.  If the ladies are threatened, but manage to escape, the rooster will crow an ‘all clear’ signal to let the flock know that danger has passed and he’s on guard.  Several, actually, in case you miss the first few.  This, I think, is often the cause of the 3:00 a.m. ruckus.  Noises in the night, maybe a rat or a raccoon, have alerted your guardian of the flock to possible danger.  Safe in the coop, he calls out a warning to the creature outside, and the ladies on their roosts know that they are safe, their man has it covered.  Some nights it seems the poor guy must not get a wink of sleep, or you.


Flirting with the girls

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Knowing that attraction requires more than just a pretty tail, a good rooster works hard to capture the interest of his ladies.  He’ll dance to try to soften up their hearts, bring them treats to win favors, and show his manliness by crowing while they're watching.  Even more touching, when a hen announces to the world that she’s laid an egg, your rooster will often sing the egg song along with her (as will all the other hens).  His voice is usually louder, maybe a little gruffer, and eventually he’ll decide to end the hubbub by crowing until all the girls have stopped singing.  Even without a rooster, a group of boisterous hens can raise quite a ruckus.  They don't put that in the movies either.


Other sounds

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Put a chair in the backyard and take some time to watch your flock of chickens in action.  There is a definate pecking order and being the man means it's up to him to both enforce it, and see that that arguments don't get out of hand. Along with his crow, and singing the egg song, your rooster makes a variety of noises to keep things going smoothly.  There’s a cheerful “buk. buk. buk” when he finds a treat to show the girls, and a menacing growl that’s meant to frighten off a predator that’s gotten too close (possibly you).  He might chatter seductively while doing the mating dance, or tell a hen to behave with a drawn out “baaaaaawwwwwwk”.  Chickens have an extensive vocabulary of sounds and movements that will entertain you for hours.

Despite the annoyance factor of your rooster’s constant vocalizations, he really is a great addition to a flock, and a lot of fun to watch.  A docile rooster makes a fun pet, and since your eggs will be fertile, you can always try hatching your own chicks.  Before deciding to keep him be sure to verify local ordinances – some places allow hens but no roosters, and check with your neighbors to find out what their noise tolerance levels are.  Sometimes a dozen eggs now and then can make a rooster a lot easier to listen to.