Chickens are known for their distinctive behavior of squawking loudly after laying an egg, a behavior commonly referred to as the “egg song.” This behavior has puzzled researchers, farmers, and enthusiasts for years, leading to various theories about its purpose and significance. In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of chicken behavior to explore the potential reasons behind this distinctive post-egg-laying vocalization.
Theories Behind the Egg Song
1. Announcing Accomplishment and Hierarchy
Chickens are social animals that live in flocks with established hierarchies. One theory proposes that the egg song serves as a means for a hen to announce her accomplishment to other hens in the flock. By vocalizing her achievement, she may assert her status and maintain the flock’s pecking order.
2. Distracting Predators and Thieves
Squawking loudly after laying an egg might serve as a clever distraction tactic. This behavior could potentially deter predators and egg thieves by drawing attention away from the nest. By focusing on the noisy hen, predators might be less likely to locate the vulnerable eggs.
3. Mating Ritual
When roosters are present within a flock, the egg song could have a unique purpose. This theory suggests that the vocalization is a way for hens to attract roosters for mating. By singing the egg song, hens might be signaling their readiness for reproductive activities.
4. General Communication
In the complex world of chicken communication, the egg song might simply be a way for hens to communicate with their flock members. This vocalization could signal the presence of a newly laid egg and keep the flock members informed about their environment.
5. Protecting the Nest
Chickens have a natural instinct to safeguard their nests from potential threats. The loud squawking could help draw predators away from the nest area, directing their attention towards the squawking hen instead. This strategy could enhance the chances of the nesting hen escaping unharmed.
6. Alerting the Flock
The egg song could function as an alarm call to the rest of the flock. By vocalizing her achievement, the hen might be signaling the presence of a new egg in the coop. This is crucial for preventing accidental consumption of the egg by other chickens and maintaining vigilance against predators.
7. Signaling the Rooster
For hens that are mating with a rooster, the egg song might be a way to communicate with him. This vocalization could indicate the hen’s readiness for mating, a significant factor since roosters are fertile only during specific times each day.
A Closer Look at Chicken Behavior
Dealing with the Egg Song
Steele acknowledges that the egg song can be quite disruptive, particularly when it occurs early in the morning. She advises novice chicken keepers to be prepared for this behavior and offers practical suggestions for managing its impact.
Beyond the egg song, chickens employ a variety of sounds to communicate with one another. Clucking, crowing, and hissing are among the repertoire of vocalizations that chickens use to convey their needs, emotions, and warnings.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q1: Why do chickens make noise after laying an egg?
A1: Chickens squawk after laying an egg for various reasons, including announcing their accomplishment to the flock, distracting predators, signaling the rooster for mating, and communicating general information to other hens.
Q2: Are all chicken breeds equally vocal with their egg songs?
A2: No, there are breed variations in egg song prevalence. Some breeds, such as Ameraucanas and Australorps, tend to be more vocal, while others like lavender orps and Olive Eggers are quieter.
Q3: How should new chicken keepers deal with the disruptive egg song?
A3: New chicken keepers should be prepared for the disruptive nature of the egg song, especially if it occurs early in the morning. Providing a supportive and stimulating environment for chickens can help manage this behavior.
Q4: Do chickens use other vocalizations besides the egg song?
A4: Yes, chickens use a range of vocalizations, including clucking, crowing, and hissing, to communicate various needs, emotions, and warnings to each other.
The egg song, a unique behavior displayed by chickens after laying an egg, continues to captivate the curiosity of enthusiasts and researchers alike. While several theories offer insights into its potential purposes, the true reason remains a mystery. As we observe and study these feathered creatures, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate ways they communicate and interact within their flocks.