Keeping Roosters Quietly and Responsibly

by Andy Schneider (the Chicken Whisperer)

Several times each month I receive letters, emails and phone calls from concerned chicken owners asking how they can keep their roosters quiet. More times than not, they are keeping chickens in urban areas. Many cities around the country ban roosters to prevent nuisance complaints from their citizens, even though there are several ways to keep roosters in urban areas quietly and responsibly. I had kept backyard chickens for two years before my neighborhood homeowner’s association even found out. Why? Because I choose not to keep roosters with my flock. Yes, I have kept roosters in the past due to periodic rooster rescues, but they did not cause any problems because I kept them quietly and responsibly.

In my opinion, roosters have two main purposes, which they do very well: protect and fertilize. In the past seven years, I have only lost three chickens due to predators. One just happened to be my rooster, Kentucky. During a backyard remodel, we temporarily removed the protective netting from atop our three chicken runs. After arriving home, I noticed that all eleven hens were safely inside the coop and Kentucky was in the run, where he had obviously lost a battle with a hawk. We believe that when Kentucky noticed the hawk that he gathered all of his ladies in the coop for their protection and then returned back outside to fight off the predator. Unfortunately, he lost, but all eleven hens were safe. Because of this, I know the value of a rooster when it comes to predator protection, but I still choose not to keep roosters due to the extra responsibilities involved. I do however provide a very secure coop and run for my chickens.

There are many great reasons why people choose to keep backyard chickens in urban areas, but breeding is rarely one of them, so keeping a rooster is not necessary in most cases. If you keep a small backyard flock without a rooster, one hen will generally take the rooster’s role. She will keep an eye out for predators, alert the flock if danger arises, maintain the pecking order and, in rare cases, may even crow.

On the rare occasions when I did have a rooster or two, I would keep them quietly and responsibly. At dusk, I would bring the roosters into my garage. They would be placed into a metal cage with their own food and water. Then the metal cage would be placed into a large breed plastic doghouse. I would then place a heavy blanket over the doghouse to provide an extra sound barrier. If one of the roosters happened to crow early in the morning, none of my neighbors could hear it. In fact, our master bedroom backs up to our garage. If we were sound asleep the crowing would not even wake us up, but if we were already awake then we could hear the rooster crow, but it was faint and hardly noticeable.

Overall, I think roosters get a bad rap, but I understand that they are not for everyone. They are very beautiful birds and have a couple of specific purposes that they do very well. I still hate to see cities completely ban roosters, but it’s a compromise that many urban chicken keepers are willing to make.

Thank you,

Chicken Whisperer

Andy Schneider, better known as the Chicken Whisperer, is the host of the Backyard Poultry with the Chicken Whisperer radio show, contributor for Mother Earth News Magazine, Grit Magazine, Farmers Almanac, and national spokesperson for the USDA-APHIS Bio-Security for Birds Program.

Andy Schneider is a Guest Author; ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author and are not those of McMurray Hatchery. If you would like to express a different point of view or add additional information please post a comment.

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6 Responses to Keeping Roosters Quietly and Responsibly

  1. Susan Sanocki says:

    I do agree that roosters can be noisy (luckily some of my neighbors have chickens), but they have a purpose other than protecting and fertilizing (hens also fertilize), but they also keep the hens “in-line”. I had hens that cannibalized each other without a rooster. He prevented that just by being the focus of attention, as he matriculated into the flock of hens. Eggs that are fertilized have been considered to be more nutritious. Wonder if that’s really true (that’s what some suppliers say)?

    I find chickens are really funny (better than fish). I’ve seen them jump up to get flowers (any flower, including roses). They are hilarious when taking dust baths together. They often are so enthusiastic that they kick up dust all over their fellow dustees. Not to forget that they chase any other fellow chicken with a choice morsel. Roosters will spot a likely hen way across the yard and run helter skelter to get to her before she knows what’s happening.

    By the way, roosters can crow all day, especially if you have more than one. It’s a competition between roosters you know. They are funny when they come into close proximity to each other. They’ll fight, jumping up and down until a hen comes by. They forget that they were fighting and go after the hapless hen. So funny!

    All in all, chickens, in addition to being great layers, are very entertaining. That’s worth a lot due to our very depressing economic environment.

  2. jeanne says:

    Roosters do crow any time of the day so I’m not understanding how you made “rooster in the garage” work either. I have looked into “decrowing” a rooster and it’s not biologically possible.
    I wish it were; I would love to have a rooster.

    Very ingenious Jenny.

  3. errol stewart says:

    I suggest that vets after research, find a surgical method to make a rooster quiet if the SPCA would allow it and if the method would not cause the rooster too much discomfort.

  4. seedstoseeds says:

    At what time would it be appropriate to take the rooster back outdoors? I have heard that some roosters crow all throughout the day. Your thoughts on this? The Florida heat is too much so we would have to bring the encaged rooster indoors at night.

    • Christy says:

      Ack! My fears were confirmed when I heard my beautiful Buff Cochin “hen” crow this morning. :(

  5. Jenny says:

    I had a system that I used long ago when I kept city chickens to keep my roosters quiet. I put them under a box at night, short enough that they could not stand up to crow. I had to be gone by 6 Am in those days, so the box had a rope that went up and was tied to a gallon jug of water perched on a ledge. An alarm clock would go off at an appropriate time, the type with a key on the back, the key would move a notched stick towards the jug, knock it off the ledge, pull the box up and free the boys for the day! Nowadays I just have hens.

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