The rooster’s loud, proud crow is one of the most widely recognized animal noises and is widely associated with daybreak. Whether or not you’ve heard a rooster crowing, you’ve likely heard their loud voices around dawn. It raises questions about why roosters always crow ‘cock-a-doodle-do?’ In fact, you may even wonder what sound does a rooster make besides just this one.
What is Crowing?
Crowing is the “cock-a-doodle-do” sound roosters make, separate from the sound of clucking associated with chickens. It’s on par with the sound of a barking dog in terms of loudness (approximately 90 decibels – compared with the 70-decibel sound of hens cackling and laying). It’s a way for him to communicate with an audience and greet the daybreak.
At What Age do Rooster’s Crowing
If you own a flock of adorable chickens and roosters, you’ve likely wondered when cockerels crow?
The age your rooster starts crowing typically varies; however, it begins somewhere around four or five months of age. Fortunately, this also around the time it starts looking like a mature, grown-up rooster.
Keep in mind that the age your rooster starts crowing may vary from two months to nine months.
Why Do Roosters Crow?
Roosters crow for a variety of reasons – and contrary to popular belief, they don’t just crow at dawn. It’s a natural response to stimuli and the reasons for crowing include:
- Announcing his presence
- Marking territory
- To declare the pecking order
- Attracting a mate
- Reacting to a threat and alerting hens to danger
- In response to stimuli e.g. traffic/machinery sounds
- When being fed to assert that the food is his
- Communicate with other birds
- To gather his flock of hens
- Celebrate mating
- To celebrate “his” hens laying eggs
They also do actively crow in anticipation of the sunrise – and some birds will crow as many as two hours before dawn.
Here we discuss in depth some of the reasons why your rooster may be crowing:
Announcing their Territory
Did you know that the for bearers came from Far Eastern countries, including Thailand, Myanmar, India, China, and East Indies? Residents would find these feathery, soft birds in the jungle and dense vegetation where it was difficult to spot the chickens and roosters.
Thus, crowing is often used to alert neighboring fowl that a new rooster is in the area and that this is his territory and hens. It’s also likely that the roosters will crow back and forth to let other flocks know their whereabouts.
Chickens boast an excellent sense of hearing, so the frequent crowing will give roosters an idea of whether a rival flock is moving nearer or away. In fact, their acute hearing allows them to determine where a noise is coming from with spot-on accuracy.
By making other rivals aware of his presence, roosters help avoid fights among each other and decrease the chances of injury, defeat, and death.
Night Time Crowing
If you have a rooster, you’ve likely noticed that your rooster starts crowing at night as well.
Although there is no exact known reason, chances are, your rooster has heard something outside the coop and is alerting the rest of the flock of potential danger.
One other possible theory is that your rooster may be disturbed by a car’s headlight or some other intense beam of light. In turn, your rooster may want to alert the rest of the chickens about what has happened.
Lastly, a rooster may start crowing at certain noises like tractors or cars igniting up. The crow may be a warning to help ensure the rest of the flock stays away from the area.
Mating and Crowing
Several roosters like to crow after they mate. It means that the rooster may be crowing to say something along the lines of, ‘I’m the greatest.’
Several in-depth studies and theories show that morning rooster crowing rituals result from a morning surge of testosterone in the rooster. While this is no more than a theory right now, it has some merit because a rooster is most sexually potent during the early morning and early evening.
As a result, at both times, you’ll hear your cockerels crowing more frequently. Some roosters even crow after a hen lays an egg.
Competition between Roosters
One other reason your roosters may start crowing is that it’s a competition between them. If you have a group of roosters, they will begin crowing one after the other. However, the head rooster in the yard will be the last one to crow.
In addition, the head rooster may make rounds of the rooster pen to try and provoke other penned roosters to fight with him. But, since they can’t hurt him, the other roosters will typically respond with all the right moves to settle a score.
Research into Crowing
Japanese researchers have looked at crowing behavior and concluded that the most dominant, highly ranked rooster in a flock has the privilege of breaking the dawn first with his crowing, while subordinate roosters will wait until after this has occurred before they begin crowing in the morning – in order of precedence in the flock.
Furthermore, when roosters were kept in an experimental, dark environment 24 hours per day, they quickly demonstrated crowing behavior at the same pre-dawn time each day, even without being able to see that it was, in fact, sunrise. Artificial light sources did induce crowing, but it was significantly more prevalent at the time of daybreak.
What does this prove? That crowing is an intrinsic behavior very much based on the rooster’s natural circadian rhythms. Some animal researchers believe it may be linked to a surge in the male hormone testosterone – which is stronger in the morning. Interestingly, roosters are at their most sexually potent at dawn and dusk – and this is when crowing activity peaks.
Interesting Facts about Roosters–Did You Know?
- 1/ Roosters have their own voices and each crow is different, with very subtle variations. If you have a flock with more than one rooster, you’ll learn to identify who is having his say.
- 2/ Hens can (and occasionally do) crow – even though crowing is almost exclusively associated with roosters.
- 3/ Chicken ancestry lies in the Far East 5000 years ago – China, Thailand, India, Indonesia (East Indies), and Myanmar (Burma). Their natural habitat was dense jungle. Crowing likely developed as a way for the resident rooster to announce the presence of him and his hen harem, and that the territory was his and his alone.
- 4/ Wild roosters coexist quite well until they form flocks with hens, provided the pecking order is respected.
- 5/ Roosters crow in conversation with each other – alerting each other to the presence of rival flocks and their movements.
- 6/ Crowing is one way to potentially avoid the need for fighting. Roosters do not enjoy fighting – though they will if they feel compelled to do so and may fight to the death.
- 7/ Is your rooster crowing at night? This is a strong sign that there is possible danger nearby or outside the coop. The crowing is also a warning to predators or rivals to keep away.
- 8/ Amusingly, roosters tend to crow just after mating – think of it as a proud way of strutting his stuff!
- 9/ Roosters are competitive by nature. If the dominant one begins crowing, others will likely join in according to the established pecking order, trying to be the loudest and to have the proverbial last word. The dominant rooster, if he has access, may also try to provoke subordinate (and safely penned) roosters into a fight that he knows they can’t win.
Can you stop a rooster from crowing?
Should you? Crowing is natural behavior – it should not be actively or unnaturally stopped. It can be minimized by:
- Keeping only a single rooster
- Minimizing flock disturbance
- Insulating the coop
- Confining the rooster in an indoor, ventilated box
To Sum it Up
Often, roosters make a sound resembling ‘cock-a-doodle-do,’ however, a rooster crowing to alert his flock of potential danger utters a warning churr, which sounds a lot like a slurred ‘what.’
Keep in mind that roosters boast a crowing etiquette that defines their order of crowing. The head is always the first to crow, and depending on the pecking order, you’ll hear other roosters crowing as well.
Next time you hear a rooster crowing, pay attention to what he’s trying to say – and enjoy the song!