Experiment in classical conditioning to make quieter chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by matimeo, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    I already know I'm going to get some comments from people who disagree with my methods, but here goes:

    My chickens are too loud. I spent over $100 to make them a new automatic door thinking that would solve the problem, but they are still making a racket in the morning. This is a big deal because I don't want to upset my neighbors that like to sleep in and whose open windows are only about 30 feet from the coop. My experiment is to try to pair a negative stimulus with their loud bawking to see if I can cause the behavior to become extinct. Since, in my experience, chickens are very hard-wired to act the way that they do, I am assuming that I will have to apply the negative consequences over long periods of time to get the desired result and probably have to repeat in the future. I'm also thinking about pairing a distinct sound or color with the stimulus so that in the future that sound or color can elicit the same automatic response. Ideally someone would make a shock collar or something for chickens so it could be applied immediately and with minimal effort on my part, but alas, they have not.

    So this morning I started by shooting the offending chicken in the butt with my bb gun. Mind you it was just with one pump, so it won't break the skin or anything. It initially had the desired effect and the offending chicken was quiet after two rounds. My wife was supposed to keep it up when I went to work, but she didn't know how to turn off the safety so she used a super-soaker instead which also had the desired effect. On a side note, initially I tried putting a kids's sprinkler that shoots water in all directions in the middle of the run and thought I could just turn it on when they got noisy. They just ran to the other side of the run and kept on being noisy. I also figured that I would want the stimulus to be paired with the right chicken and not with all of them.

    I shall keep you updated on whether or not this has any noticeable effect over the course of time.

    Anybody else ever tried anything like this? I'd rather use positive reinforcement, but I don't think feeding a quiet chicken will make the connection I'm looking for. Anything I can do to make the experiment more scientific?
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    South Georgia
    I don't believe negative reinforcement works well with kids or dogs.
     
  3. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oregon
    Quote:I agree. I just don't know that positively reinforcing quiteness in chickens will do any good. I wouldn't do this if it wasn't my last ditched effort to be able to keep chickens in my backyard without violating the noise ordinance.
     
  4. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    In the chicken's mind, they are being harassed for being themselves.

    Good luck with this. [​IMG]
     
  5. PamB

    PamB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2010
    Dayville, CT
    I have to agree with everyone else. Chickens are not quiet animals. If that doesn't fit your lifestyle, please rehome them
     
  6. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:It suits me just fine. It's my neighbors I'm worried about. And mind that I'm not talking about the normal noises that chickens make. I'm talking about when they are screaming at the top of their lungs to be allowed where they're not supposed to go or because they want a treat. I'm ok with the day to day noises but not the over-the-top squawking.
    Sometimes people talk on here like their chickens are relatively quiet but I must have gotten the Amazonian screaming variety.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Quiet chickens? Some are a bit quiet-er than others, but none are quiet.
     
  8. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:If can be inferred that you've created this problem by allowing the chickens to have expectations and they voice their disapproval when they are not met. Yes?

    What legal recourse could your neighbors have? It's admirable that you want to keep the peace but chickens, birds in general, are noisy, vocal animals. I have to put up with my neighbors' kids screaming when they play in their yard. Should I have the right to shut them up? No they are kids, just like the chickens are birds. I'd start a sympathetic dialogue with your neighbor and keep the free fresh eggs coming, rather than try to alter the chickens' natural behavior.

    We can tell most of our chickens by voice alone, that's how naturally chatty they are.

    Let your neighbors know, if there is ever a fire in their house or a stranger crawling around the property, the chickens will be the first to make a racket and save their lives or property.
     
  9. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    If possible you can make blackout curtains for the coop and keep the chickens in it a little longer in the mornings. [​IMG] That way they may sleep in late also.... otherwise playing classical music or giving them more challenging things to do in the morning to keep those beaks busy.... like hiding goodies under or around stuff. Hanging a cabbage at just beak level for them to munch on. hide meal worms or treats on high perches etc.... keep them busy and only give these in the morning to keep them from getting spoiled.

    I would not shoot them with a BB, you could easily hit an eye with it or hurt them, and if they don't trust you they will get worse. If it is one hen that is the ring leader, try taking her in the garage at night and letting her out when your neighbors are up. If not them rehoming would be the best option.
     
  10. Wise Woman

    Wise Woman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You got chickens, you expect them to be quiet and if they don't you shoot them with a BB gun? I am sorry, but this is just wrong on so many levels. Chickens aren't quiet. While mine don't yell unless they are laying an egg or a coyote is around, noise is to be expected. Dogs bark, cats meow, cows moo and chickens squawk. I think it is unrealistic to get an animal and expect it to be quiet. If the only place you have to keep them is 30 ft from your neighbors window, then perhaps you need to rethink your decision to be a chicken owner. I just cannot believe you are shooting them with BBs. My gosh, that seems really harsh. I have been raising chickens fro 10 years now and have never, ever raised a hand or a BB gun to any of them ever for any reason. They are chickens, they are going to do what they are going to do. You are a human. It is your job to keep and protect them and if they are behaving in a way you dislike, it is your job to out smart them, not shoot them. Wow, just wow. I am sorry, but I work with two different animal rescue groups and I am really disturbed by how some people treat their animals. I didn't need to read this.
     

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