Back yard chicken keeping is sweeping the nation, and Brentwood/Maplewood allow up to six chickens per household. Usually, however, roosters are banned, largely due to their crowing.
A dear turkey-keeping friend of mine in South Africa sent me a very interesting article yesterday about rooster crowing, debunking the myth that roosters crow only at day break. In fact, as any of you who have kept or live near roosters, they crow all day long. They crow in the middle of the night if they are disturbed by head lights from cars or street lights, and in the case of my miniature pet house rooster, if I would turn on a light in the dark.
They also crow at cars as they assume the noise of the engine is a verbal challenge to their authority. Crowing occurs during food presentation, and is also dictated by rank; the dominant rooster crows first followed in line by those in order of who falls below him.
During the day, however, a Japanese study found that roosters crow as a sign of territoriality, the crowing of other roosters, and defense and bravado. An interesting study was conducted showing that, when roosters were kept under controlled lighting situations where the arrival of dawn was manipulated in the lab, the roosters were not fooled. They crowed at the appropriate time of day break, no matter what the “fake” time of day was. The study determined that roosters have an internal circadian rhythm which governs their sense of the arrival of daybreak.
Roosters are a joy to keep, and many find their crowing a gentle reminder of peaceful country living, and find them less annoying than the sounds of lawn mowers, barking dogs, traffic sounds, etc. A flock of hens accompanied by a rooster is very different in social dynamics than a flock without a rooster.
My rooster and his harem went to live with a veterinarian here locally when I was forced to move and found myself in the city, where roosters are banned. The little group were rescues from Georgia, one was even named after me! I miss them fiercely.
There is a wonderful hatchery called Murray McMurray Hatchery that has a T-shirt saying: “Have you hugged your chicken today?” For those of you with chickens, run out and give one a hug!
Dorene Olson Training and Behavior, LLC
WyndSong Border Collies and Canada Goose Management