Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scoop in the Coop: Behavior Modification

This is the second part of H2's video showing what my chickens go through when they lay an egg. Part of that daily routine involves plenty of loud ba-gawking, something that I'm trying to discourage given how close my neighbors are to the coop.  To make matters worse it goes on for 2-3 hours while all the chickens go through the nesting/laying cycle.  Every day.

Two weeks after starting spraying them with water immediately after they make the noise, I think they've toned it down a bit.

None of the online chicken forums, nor the guidebooks that I've consulted, really address how loud chickens can be. In particular, Damerow's "Guide to Raising Chickens" makes no mention of my breed, Rhode Island Reds, being particularly noisy. The online conversation at places like Backyard Chickens isn't much better. The consensus is that placating neighbors with eggs is the answer. Another unsupported assertion is that the hens are doing a "happy" egg laying dance. Bull. They make the noise when they're alarmed or upset, as well as when they're nowhere near laying an egg.


Dan said...

Haha! I found this out the hard way too! Being a city boy all my life I had no idea hens made so much noise. Our RIR is the loudest but our wyandotte is a close second. Our barred rock hardly makes a peep though!
Training chickens seems to be as effective as training cats (ie not very). Good luck :)

Tasha Alison said...

Oh my goodness! Ours are so loud! Most of the time it's when they want us to come out & give them treats. Spoiled birds!

Mr. Homegrown said...

At least they squawk mostly during business hours. And they will quiet down as they get older (but they'll be less eggs too!)

Linda said...

Mine never make noise before 8 and never after 7 or so, but it is an egg song they are singing. Yes, sometimes they make noise, but they are less noisy than any dog around here. They beg for food by coming to the back door and bawling. It is cute and no neighbor has ever complained. I would never squirt them to stop their natural egg song.

Linda said...

Startled chickens often lay eggs with blood spots. Did you ever consider moving your cage away from the fence so close to the neighbor's house. You will make the hens fearful of you.

Bruce said...

Hi Linda,

I haven't had any eggs with blood in them.

Also, the hens come to me without hesitation (fearless?) when I'm in the coop and not spraying them. They like to be picked up and held.

I, am I'm far from alone, correct the behavior of my dog with what could be considered stressful actions, i.e. yanking his leash, and it hasn't caused a permanent (negative) problem. I fail to see why hens would be any different; birds have been used for decades to demonstrate behavioral conditioning theories.

Linda said...

Okay, I just would not do that to my hens. Their sounds are nice to my ears. One day, I was dragging a leaf rake behind me. They ran to me and the sound of the rake part swishing through the grass really frightened them. Now, if I have yellow loppers in my hands, they flee. They run from yellow every time they see it.

Actually, when they are singing near the window of my neighbor's bedroom early in the morning. I just shush them over and over so that I interrupt them yet don't awaken the neighbors myself. Shhhh stops them everytime. I have no neighbors who can hear them on three sides of my house.

The blood in the eggs part comes from a commercial egg producer that I know in this town.