Learning the chicken Language. Reasons why you should!
How to speak chicken?
Getting to know your flock should be the first thing that you do once they get to their coop for the first time. There is some form of connection that a farmer gets to achieve once he or she hears the different sounds that his new flock makes. It is kind of therapeutic!
But how do they actually communicate with you? Do they literally open their mouths and tell you how fine the weather is? Only in some cartoons…! However, there is a way that the sounds that chickens may communicate to us and give us a message. These sounds give a reasonably accurate idea of what the chicken would like to communicate.
What if chickens could actually talk?
Think about it! Would you have a conversation with your flock about their egg productivity or the quality of their feed? Sounds funny right?
I think that they would simply ask for more and more feed… even if they were full to their stomachs!
Chickens are amazing animals. They respond to literally any change that happens in their environment. The most common way in which they do this is through different sounds. Sounds are made by either hens or roosters through different stages of their growth.
1. Mother hen
Broody hens are always making sounds to communicate with their chicks about different things. If you are very observant, you will discover that broody hens have different sounds for different messages and chicks naturally understand the message.
A mother hen is able to communicate the following things to its chicks in different sounds;
-When there is an air attack from a hawk or any other flying predator
-When she is calling the chicks to eat something that she has found.
-When she is discouraging her chicks from eating something dangerous or to be careful.
-When she is calming her chicks down after a startle.
-When she is ushering her chicks to follow her.
2. Rooster wake-up call
On the other hand, roosters love to give you that normal wake-up call. They promise never to be late! Roosters crow almost accurately at the same time every day. The good thing about roosters and their wake-up call is that you know your rooster is healthy every day when it crows in the morning.
What does the rooster think it is doing?
We commonly understand that a rooster may be waking us. But the truth is, the rooster is just doing its job to wake up his own flock! The flock starts off their day very early in the morning. Sometimes as early as three in the morning.
There are, however, some things that may change your rooster’s crowing schedule.
This may include things like brightly lit lights around its coop in the night. This can cause the rooster to crow at odd hours like midnight or even at 10 pm!
A roosters morning crow can sometimes be a bit too loud for town folk. This means that even though we are passionate about our roosters, we should also think about how our neighbors feel about the noise that the rooster makes in the morning. Not everyone wants to be woken up at five in the morning to go to work!
So, construct or keep your rooster and his flock a distance away from a residential area to maintain peace.
3. Rooster finding a nesting spot
It is true! A rooster actually cares about a hen’s eggs! Have you ever seen a rooster preparing a hen’s nest? They do it quite well actually. Roosters are able to guide hens that are just about to lay an egg to a suitable environment where they can lay an egg.
Most of the time, this happens when the hen is a first-time layer or a new addition to the flock.
4. Broody hen unhappy
A hen that is broody does not like to be disturbed at any single moment. It can be seen once you move around the hen while providing the rest of the flock with feed. Broody hens are mostly separated from the rest of the flock in order to keep them calm.
The sounds that broody hens make when another chicken or a human comes close to them is just a basic defensive mechanism that repels both chicken and humans.
If you pay attention closely, once a broody hen makes its unhappy sound, you will hear the rooster equally make a sound to support the hen’s bid for you to leave it alone. So pay attention and leave them alone!
5. The egg siren
The egg siren or the egg noise is one of the most common forms of communication in the flock. The chicken environment cannot be complete without these sounds being heard once in a while. The purpose of this sound is mostly to tell the farmer that an egg is about to be laid. It may not be on a specific day that the hen makes the sound but sooner or later, an egg must be laid after making this sound.
Once a farmer hears this sound, he or she is supposed to take the initiative to have proper nesting boxes for the hens. This will make it easier for the hen to find a proper place to lay its egg.
6. Air danger from the rooster
Air danger may be in the form of crows or hawks. Chickens that are kept under a free-range system suffer from air danger the most. Air danger comes to chickens unexpectedly. And it has happened so many times that chickens have now adapted to it.
The rooster is the leader of the flock and its job is to protect the flock against dangers like these. That is why the rooster is able to spot any danger that is coming from either the skies or even from the ground itself.
As a farmer, I realized that my rooster couldn’t do a lot to save its flock at all times. Chicks were the most at danger and once a rooster is not close to a broody hen with its chicks, then the worst can happen. So, I decided to secure my coop with a fence, top and sideways. This way even though the rooster made its air danger warning, the flock was still entirely safe.
7. Alert siren
Apart from the dangers in the sky, there are a lot of other things that may cause a flock to be startled. These may be rodents, cats, dogs, or any other small predator that may want to harm a member of the flock.
The alert siren is mostly meant to chase away the predator because it is loud and it shows that the chicken is afraid.
8. Chick chirps
The little ones also make some sounds that reflect their reaction to different stimuli in the environment. Chicks are supposed to be well taken care of and the best way to do this is artificially by placing them in a brooder or by using a broody hen. The latter works best!
What do chicks say? How do they communicate?
Chicks try to give the message as it is in one particular sound that is pitched differently or at a different speed. They make their sounds during the following instances;
-When they are feeling cold
-When they are feeding
-When there is danger
-When they are hungry
9. Rooster-hen call.
This one is my personal favorite. Did you know that roosters can literally call their flock members to eat something they have found? Most of the time it is usually hens that are about to lay eggs.
This call is a way for the rooster to stay close to the hen in order for him to also attain mating privileges!
How can you learn the chicken language?
- Pay close attention to their behavior and the sounds they make.
Paying attention to something takes up energy and time. Someone may look at you observing your flock and think you are crazy. However, the things that we get to learn during this process will give us a clear understanding of how to relate with the flock as a whole. Right from feeding them in the morning to securing them in their flock at night.
By doing this, you will also be able to discover any changes in the behavior of the chickens as quickly as possible. That way you can tell whenever a chicken in the flock is sick, having trouble with the rest of the chicken, or when you need to change the conditions of the coop.
- Feed them well to give them the energy to make those sounds.
Chicken need feed not only for their daily movement and productivity, they also need to be able to make their sounds so as to communicate with each other and with you, the farmer.
Am sure by now you know that underfeeding chickens will cause significant loss in their weight. And a loss of weight will make their bodies not to perform some of their usual bodily functions like making their noises.
Well, their noise isn’t noisy to them, it is more of a mode of communication.
Learning how to speak to chickens.
Yes, of course, we do not use some form of code to communicate with chickens but guess what, you can form one! Through approximation and consistency, you can form some form of language that only you and your flock understand.
This has worked with me before and has greatly helped to stop my chickens from wandering off into the wild.
How did I do it?
I can’t say it was easy! It took a lot of hard work from both my chickens and myself. Basically, I used to feed and a whistling sound that I made every time I gave them their feed. This is how it worked every single time.
I made the sound when they were around me, or I looked for where the flock was roaming around during their free-range time and made the sound.
Immediately after making the sound, I poured the feed just on the ground or grass and they came running.
I made the sound once again and gave them some more feed.
I did this for six consecutive weeks every single day and they got used to my whistling sound. Every time I whistled, even though I had no feed in my hands, they came running! Like it was an emergency. It was so comforting.
The learning curve was phenomenal since I tried to create a different sound by tapping their feeders to see if they would respond.
Most of the time, we farmers don’t have much we can say to our chickens other than to call them to eat. So that has been pretty much all I have been saying to them. Come and eat!
The general salutations and good mornings are usually said in a much more composed tone and mostly by my hens. I can comfortably say that I learned how to talk to my chickens.
I hope you learned the best way to communicate with your chicken from this post. I figured it was necessary and it just makes keeping chickens more indulging!