Hey guys! I'm a first time chicken raiser, and I have two hens that are both under a year old and have been laying like clockwork for a few months now.
I'm going to give a ton of background here, just so maybe someone else will be able to see what is driving this chicken mad- it might be more info than you need, but I'm such a newbie at this I have NO idea what information is useful or not. :) So bear with me.
The chickens are living in a coop large enough for 5-8 chickens, and there are two young new chickens living in the henhouse right now, cordoned off from the big ones. The older hens can hardly see the baby chickens from inside the henhouse, but I'm sure they hear them (and unfortunately offed an escapee a few weeks ago- a bad chicken managing mistake on our part) and they can clearly see the nearly grown chicks popping their heads out of their "window" into the run.
They're free fed and watered and its very consistent (they never run out or anything), and they get kitchen scraps like lettuce and carrot peels once or twice a day, usually in the morning (around 10AM), plus I toss in grass clippings and things like that when I'm working in the yard. They're social with people and relatively gentle (as long as they don't mistake your toes for grubs).
We have four cats, but the cats tend to ignore the chickens, and they don't stand around staring at them or anything.
So here's the problem: the squawker, we call her Goldie, starts in at about 7AM every morning, with a loud and gravelly RAAAWK RAAAAWK RAAAAWK that goes on intermittently for most of the morning, and usually tapers off by 11AM or noon. These aren't cute bock-bock noises or little twitters, either, which our other chicken sometimes makes. Lately Goldie lays in the afternoon, around noon or so, and afterward she is pretty quiet.
That is, unless she hears us outside, then the squawking could start at any moment, and she usually gives it about 10-15 minutes of good effort before she gets tired of it.
I am concerned for a few reasons. Primarily, we are technically on too small a lot to be able to keep chickens, and if our neighbors report us we will have to get rid of them or maybe even be fined. We've spoken to all of our neighbors about the chickens, and although they didn't mind before, this is just a really unacceptable amount of noise. Secondly, we are driven crazy by it. It is the most irritating and loud sound, it wakes us up in the morning and KEEPS us up, and we can't enjoy our yard or leaving our windows open in the morning and even sometimes throughout the whole day. And the important third concern is that there is something wrong with her environment, and that she's stressed for a good reason.
We had thought that perhaps the squawking was at flies on the patio, and sometimes it is, but yesterday we gave her flight feathers a clip and decided to let them roam out of the chicken run (to get the flies if they were so obsessed) and she'll still just stand in the coop and squawk. I'm sure she'll get used to leaving the coop more, but still she seems to not care as much about the flies as I thought.
Ugh, sorry this is so long, but we've given this a lot of thought, and we'll have to get rid of her if this problem doesn't stop. She's a reliable layer and our nieces and nephews really love her, so it would be difficult to give her up. Hopefully we can soothe her crazy squawking before she goes up to that big freezer in the sky...