Before your impulse purchase of cute fluffy baby chicks at the feed store, listen to the grownup hen

Hen greets the morning with a sweet warbling song. Not.

Technically, this sound is called cackling.

Translated from Chicken to English: “I laid an egg! I laid an egg!”

Sometimes this a lie. Or it is simply a repetition of what another hen said, passing along the boastful gossip. Sometimes there really is an egg, most often in an egg box in the coop. But this little Easter Egger hen lays her blue eggs here and there so we have to go on an Easter egg hunt to find them. One of the drawbacks to free ranging.

I like my hens, I like their eggs, but I do not really like this noise, especially on the earlier side of morning, especially when all four of them get going in chorus, and sometimes I go toss some corn or stale bread to distract and shut them up.

Root Simple: Do Hens Make Noise?

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.

I have no rooster. I did once, by accident, but a rooster’s morning song is much, much more awful and so he went to live up the road where someone wanted him to supervise and inseminate her free ranging hens. You get eggs without a rooster. But the hens cackle no matter what.

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.- Mark Twain

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