A crowing rooster in the morning can be part of some people’s idea of a bucolic idyll, but to others – often the neighbors – it’s a grating noise that just makes you want to strangle the bird responsible.
As a result, many – if not most – chicken keepers with a rooster in their flock will try almost anything to get the loud gentleman to shut up. And if you’re looking for the best ways to do it, in this post, we discuss how to stop a rooster from crowing.
Learn why roosters crow
In popular imagination, roosters crow when the sun comes up, but in reality, they can crow throughout the day, often as many as 15 to 20 times, something that’s sure to aggravate even the most understanding of neighbors.
However, despite what some people might think, roosters don’t crow for the sole purpose of annoying humans, and there are several specific things that set them off.
This means the first thing you need to do if you want to stop your rooster crowing – or at least reduce the amount he crows – is understand the stimuli that cause him to start.
Here are some of the most common reasons.
To protect his flock
One reason a rooster crows is to protect his flock. He is in charge of looking after his hens, and he will crow to alert them of any dangers like an approaching predator.
To assert dominance over other roosters
A top rooster rules over a hareem of hens, and he crows to show his position and assert his dominance. Furthermore, if he feels his position is threatened by another rooster, this will increase his crowing.
To mark their territory
The ancestors of domesticated chickens lived in the jungles of Southeast Asia, and the males crowed to let others know where their territory was – and domesticated roosters still display similar behavior.
To indicate they have no food or water
If you forget to feed your rooster or his hens, he won’t hesitate to let you know.
Because they’re bored
Although we often view chickens as not being particularly intelligent, just like us, they can get bored if they have nothing to do. In hens, boredom behaviors include things like pecking at cages or pulling up floors – and in roosters, it means excessive crowing too.
How to Stop a Rooster from Crowing
Now we know the main reasons roosters crow, it’s easy to see that the best way to shut one up is to remove or reduce these stimuli. Here are some things you might try.
1. Increase the size of your flock
A rooster in charge of a small flock may be driven to excessive crowing due to dissatisfaction with the number of hens he has, so you can try to get him to keep quiet by providing a few more.
A flock of ten hens per rooster is just about right, so if he has significantly fewer, this may cause him to crow more as he tries to attract more birds to his entourage.
2. Decrease the size of your flock
On the other hand, a rooster with too many hens may also crow a lot. This is because he is aware that he’s under pressure from other (perhaps imagined) rivals, so he needs to work harder and crow more to keep hold of his ladies.
This means a solution you could try if you have a high hen-to-rooster ratio is taking some of the hens away from him.
3. Remove the rooster from his hens
A single rooster with no hens doesn’t have the same kind of impetus to crow as one looking after a flock, so if you remove him completely from the hens, this may remove the urge he has to crow to assert his dominance.
Then, when you want him to breed, you can simply reintroduce him to the hens until he does his duty – and then take him away again.
4. Add another rooster – and keep them separate
Another possibility, if you have a large number of hens, is to add a second rooster.
If each rooster has enough hens to keep him happy, they should stay out of each other’s way and will crow less.
For this to work, they need to have plenty of space, or they will come into territorial conflict and crow even more.
5. Only keep one rooster
6. Meet all your rooster’s food and water needs
As we mentioned above, roosters crow when you forget to give them food or water – so making sure they always have something to eat and drink will help keep them quiet.
This is especially important at night because otherwise, they will start crowing early in the morning when they wake up ready for breakfast.
7. Alleviate boredom
Giving roosters something to occupy their days will give them less reason to crow. Add things like chicken swings to their run and move things about from time to time. The more time they spend exploring and investigating new things, the less time they will spend crowing.
8. Find out what’s wrong
One big reason for roosters to crow is when they perceive some kind of danger, so finding out what’s troubling them will make them stop.
Usually, you’ll be able to find something the rooster thinks is a predator, and removing it will do the trick.
However, they may also be worried by something like a domestic dog – or even a real predator lurking in the bushes – in which case, you’ll have to do something to remove the threat.
9. Build a stress-free blackout box
By building a stress-free blackout box for your rooster to sleep in, you will remove all the reasons he has to crow.
Once he’s inside, he won’t feel threatened by predators, he won’t have a flock to worry about and in short, all the other stimuli that cause him to crow will be removed.
This means all you then have to do is put him in there each night and then bring him out in the morning – but don’t forget about him, or he’ll soon let you know when he’s ready to come out again!
10. Trick him with light
Something that some people try is tricking their rooster with an automatic light system. Lights that come on and off automatically can fool the rooster – and his body clock – into thinking it’s still light outside.
However, this won’t necessarily help with crowing first thing in the morning, which is, after all, the type of crowing most people want to stop.
11. Divert him with food
Another idea to discourage a rooster from crowing during the day is to give him the kind of food that requires a bit of effort to eat.
For example, if the rooster is busy working at a cob of corn, he will be too occupied with his meal to worry about crowing, which may help reduce the number of times he crows throughout the day.
12. Use a rooster collar
A rooster collar is a simple device that you place around a rooster’s neck to reduce the airflow. This won’t stop him crowing entirely, but it can significantly reduce the volume, making it much more bearable.
You can buy specialist rooster collars, but they’re also easy to make from a piece of Velcro. Simply fix the collar around his neck and fix it so it’s tight enough to stop him crowing but loose enough to allow him to breathe.
You may need to start off with it being loose and then gradually tighten it over the following days so he becomes accustomed to it. If you use one on a young rooster, make sure you loosen it as he grows.
An alternative is to use a small dog collar, which can also work well.
The most extreme option is to go to the vet for surgical intervention.
The first possibility is for the vet to make an incision in the rooster’s vocal organ known as the syrinx. This will physically prevent him from crowing, but it’s a distasteful procedure for many people, and it can be hard to find a vet willing to do it.
Our view is that crowing is natural for roosters, so we prefer to use the methods mentioned above and avoid this kind of surgery.
Alternatively, you can have your rooster castrated, but if you do this, he will no longer be able to breed, in which case there’s not really much point in having a rooster in the first place.
It can also be hard to find a vet willing to castrate a rooster, so again, this is not one of the best or most practical methods.
Understand why – and remove the stimuli
There are many reasons why roosters crow, and the best way to get them to stop is first to understand the stimuli that are causing them to crow and then to remove them.
It’s natural for roosters to crow, and it’s impossible to get them to stop completely, but by reducing the rooster’s reasons to crow, you can give yourself – and your neighbors – a lot more peace and quiet than he was previously allowing you.