Early morning (hen) honking - any way to train her?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by precipice, Jul 26, 2008.

  1. precipice

    precipice In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2008
    San Francisco Bay Area
    We have three lovely hens in our backyard coop -- a Barred Rock (Over Izzy), an Americauna (Lala), and a Rhode Island Red (Minnie the Mooch). They're about 19 weeks old.

    The RIR, Minnie, took to "honking" a couple of months ago -- loudly enough that at first I wondered if she might be a he. She didn't do it often, but now and again she'd get a good "BAWK-BAWWK-BAWWWWK" going. This week, though, she's taken to bawking *very* loudly in the mornings, I assume because they're still in their coop and she wants to get out into the pen. She's been starting a bit after sunup, and it's loud enough that she woke me up through double-paned windows the other day. I don't mind that much for myself, but my neighbors are all seriously annoyed.

    I realize that in a few weeks, the appearance of fresh eggs might placate the neighbors. But, I don't like being a bad neighbor, and I'm wondering if there's anything I can do short of trading Minnie for another hen.

    Is there any way to train her not to bawk like crazy in the mornings? I've been making a point of coming out and calming her down but *not* letting them out of the coop based on her honking -- I don't want to reward the honking. Any suggestions?

    Thanks much,
    Bawking by the Bay
  2. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    My banty cochin does that when a neighbor's cat comes into our yard. Is it possible there's a predator around somewhere?
  3. CoopedUpInAZ

    CoopedUpInAZ In the Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    Tonto Basin
    One of my girls was getting really loud too. I was also a little worried until she got a few months older and started to lay eggs that she was a he just because she looked so much different too.

    My husband started to call her the dinosaur chicken which stuck and then we would laugh when she started in.

    But there is a sad ending we found her dead in the coop on Friday and we were both heartbroke. We love our girls and to loose one at only 8 months old just made us so sad. We will miss her loud noises and her personality. [​IMG]
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    You could try window shades on the coop to block the light, so they'll sleep later. You could also get an automatic door that will let them out in the morning, when you're sleeping later. You could beef up the run so that it's so predator proof that the coop door can be left open at night. I can't think of anything else, other than rehoming.

    I guess you could also try making the coop more interesting for them, but I don't know if that would help. I don't know how much space they have. Do you keep food and water in the coop at night?

    Mine enjoy looking out the windows and spend a lot of time doing that in the morning, even when the pop hole door is open. Their "breakfast nook" is even with a pair of windows. They watch to see if I am at the window tending to my orchids or if the dogs are out.

    You could try putting some interesting things/foods in the coop for them to mess around with in the mornings. There are a lot of ideas on the enrichment threads that come up from time to time. Even a small pot of grass or greens put in at bedtime, would be there for them to mess around with in the morning. Or a hanging carrot with the greens still attached. An apple. A few leafy greens. Maybe a small tray of gravel with some sunflower seeds buried in it.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Chickens, puppies and kids don't always want to keep the same hours we do, that's for sure!
  5. precipice

    precipice In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2008
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Thanks so much for the thoughts and suggestions. CoopedUpInAZ, I'm sorry for your loss -- definitely a good reminder of what matters. [​IMG]

    I'm leaning towards WoodlandWoman's suggestion of securing the run area and keeping an open-coop policy. I tried leaving their coop door open last night and there was somewhat less honking this morning. (They do have food and water in the coop, which isn't as large as I'd like. Adding some toys or treat food is a great idea.)

    I did figure something else out about their honking, though. A couple of months ago I woke up to a rooster's crow and ran downstairs thinking that one of our hens might not be a hen. When I got down there, our hens were looking all confused and alert, and while I tried to figure out who had been crowing, I heard the crow again -- from a neighbor's yard, somewhere else on our block. I was very relieved, and felt a sympathetic twinge when I never heard the rooster crow again. (Roosters are illegal where we live.) This morning, I heard the honking start up again, and realized that it was coming from some distance -- I suspect from the same neighbor's yard. After the neighbor's hens started honking, our girls joined in, not as emphatically as when they were cooped up, but they honked away in concert for a while.

    I had been thinking, on previous mornings, that they started honking quietly and then really got going, but I wonder if what was happening was that the other chickens got ours going, or vice versa, and that they were honking to say hi to their neighbors. Who knows!

    Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions.
  6. precipice

    precipice In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2008
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Oh, man, I'm so dumb. The day after that last post I went outside and Minnie had laid her first egg. Maybe that's why she was bawking away! Serves me right for not thinking of it. [​IMG]

    No eggs today, though. Hope she starts bawking again soon. [​IMG]

    Thanks again for the help and ideas.

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