Why the rooster crows | Living the Country Life

Why the rooster crows

With a rooster in the barnyard, you don't need an alarm clock

It may seem crazy, but I love the sound of roosters crowing. At one time, we had three roosters sounding off each morning. That was a bit much, especially when they started at 4 a.m.

Poultry Specialist Phillip Clauer at Penn State University says both male and female chickens have the same vocal parts, but hormones make the rooster sound off.

"And if you have a female that you would inject with male hormones, you could actually get the female to start crowing. So it's totally related to the hormone level within the bird," says Clauer.

That robust crow is the rooster's way of letting everyone know, "Hey, I'm in charge here, and these hens are my girls". And if there is more than one male in the bunch, there will probably be a chain reaction of crowing.

So why is it that a rooster has to let the entire countryside know he's the boss in such wee hours of the morning? Clauer says it's because of light stimulation more than anything else.

"A bird sees a different light spectrum than you and I. So, what happens, it's the beginning of the day for them,"  he says. "As soon as they go from a darkened condition to a condition in which they have even minimal light, chickens seem to start crowing when it's dark to us but to them it's already dawn."

Some roosters are so noisy and disruptive with their crowing, their owners want them to stop. Clauer says he knows of only two ways to do it, and they're both drastic. One is to surgically remove the vocal cords, and the other is to keep the bird in complete darkness all the time.  

Like many animals with strong personalities, some roosters are so cocky that they'll even crow when challenged by humans.

"I've seen roosters where if you shoo them away with a bucket or boot, and they come hit you in the back of the leg, they'll nail you and then they'll stand there and crow," says Clauer. "It's like, "ha ha, look at me!"

Learn more about the rooster crow

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