I want Quiet Chickens. What breed should I choose?
It is very hard to officially state that a particular breed of chicken will be the most quiet. This is mainly because quietness, or lack there of, tends to be more of an individual trait than a breed-wide trait. So particular chickens tend to be much more chatty than others, just like humans.
So when do chickens make noise?
Mine make a gentle talking or clucking noise when they are busy doing something in the lawn. This is a pleasant noise and isn’t disturbing in any way.
Many of my hens also make a loud cackling noise right after they leave the nest box after laying an egg. This is a natural instinct that many bird species share. Basically, the hen is drawing the attention of any predator in the area away from the egg and to herself by making a lot of racket.
Sometimes my hens make the same kind of cackling noise which can get very loud when they need to lay an egg and another hen is taking too long in the nest box. This noise can actually become contagious among the hens with others who are not even involved in the nest box traffic jam, and they just start cackling along as well!
The hens also make a lot of noise when they are alarmed. If they see something flying overhead, they can make a low rumble warning sound to a total hysterical cacophony.
But do certain breeds make louder noises? I don’t think so. The loudest hen I have ever had is a Black Australorp named Lukerya. She makes a cackle that is half a rooster-crow! She makes that crazy noise whenever she comes up the front steps. It is like she is announcing herself. But I have many other Black Australorps Chickens that are quiet and never seem to feel a need to announce themselves. In general, no one breed seems to have less volume.
That being said, I’d say that the calmer breeds may end up being quieter. Although the loudness of the voices of the chickens themselves may be the same as a more flighty breed, the calmer breeds would be less apt to do a lot of complaining and exclaiming and freaking out. Flighty breeds, who suspect the sky is falling a couple times a day and most voice their opinion on it, would include most white egg layers like Leghorns and other Mediterranean breeds. Calmer breeds would be the heavier, brown egg layers like Orpingtons, Sussex, and Rocks.
But you never know if you’ll get a Lukerya in your batch of pullets who is simply a loud individual…
And of course, roosters are loud when they crow – so having only hens would make a quieter flock. As far as the noise levels of various roosters, I’d say that despite their smaller size, bantam roosters seem to somehow produce a very reverberating and traveling crow. It seems to pierce through the air much more effectively than a big standard size rooster’s crow. However, a rooster crow is no louder than a dog barking, which is around 90 decibels.
Another option might be to consider quail – they are very quiet birds. Great for raising in urban areas both because they are quiet and very small in size. You won’t have crowing or cackling at all with quail, just pleasant, sweet clucking noises. Quail are great for both meat and eggs.