To Crow or Not to Crow? That is the question.
By Anne-Marie Miller
A good place to start this story is in the spring. This spring was full of new beginnings for us with baby rabbits and fuzzy, yellow, sweetly chirping chicks. My daughter, her bestie and little brother picked an even dozen baby chicks from the feed store for our new flock. They gave them names like Frills, Ribbon and Bow. Well, we weren’t too far into the project when we found out that Bow was not a she at all. We quickly changed his name from the girlie hair bow name to the manly Bo version of the name. This way he could keep his name and retain his dignity. What he couldn’t retain however, was his crow.
We live smack dab in the middle of the big city. While there is not an ordinance against roosters, I am fairly sure my neighbors would REALLY have something negative to say about a loud crowing noise at 5:30 in the morning. If you know anything about roosters, you know that it doesn’t stop there. Roosters crow when the mailman delivers mail, a jogger runs by or the trash truck comes rumbling through.
As long as we are letting people know about how roosters behave, let’s just get the number one, most-asked chicken question out of the way: No, you do not need a rooster to have eggs. You farm-raised folks are rolling your eyes, but you wouldn’t believe how many people ask me that!
So, although we didn’t need a manly chicken presence to have plenty of farm fresh eggs, we found this feathered gentleman in our midst. I started calling around to my homesteading friends with the intention of finding a home for our odd man out. One of my friends surprised me when she asked, “Why don’t you put a no crow rooster collar on him and keep him? That way the kids can have the experience of raising baby chicks in the spring.”
To which I replied, “A no crow what!?! You have got to be kidding!”
No, she wasn’t kidding. Apparently, us urban dwellers can eat our eggs and have our chicks, too! Although you can make a collar for pennies out of Velcro, I decided to order one from an online company. If I was going to put something around an animal’s neck I wanted to get it right. The collar works, not by completely annihilating the crow, but rather diminishing it to manageable levels. With the collar on, the rooster is unable to get that forceful rush of air out all at once, therefore his crow comes out at about half the pitch and length of his normal crow.
I was intrigued. I was willing to bet I was not the only one that had questions like: Does it really work? Is the rooster able to live a normal life otherwise? Is it cruel to restrict an animal’s natural behavior in this way?
When I asked around about people’s experiences with a no crow collar I got many varying responses. A few people thought it was horribly cruel and would restrict the swallowing and even breathing of the rooster. These people did not have any actual hands-on experience with the device, so I took all that was said with a grain of salt. Others, with firsthand experience, swore to me that their rooster lived a healthy normal life with the collar on. I did find out something interesting in my investigation. Several people commented that a flock is healthier with a rooster at the helm. Some reasons they listed were:
- A less intense pecking order, meaning the girls got along better.
- Part of a rooster’s job is to protect a flock. I am told they will lay down their life protecting their harem.
- Lastly, he will seek out food for the hens and keep stray hens from running off into danger.
This clinched it for me. I already had lots of experience with a group of girls without a rooster. I wanted to see for myself how they acted with a man in the group.
So, I ordered a collar. When it came in we worked together as a family to catch our rapidly growing guy to put the collar on, being careful to leave it loose enough to slip a finger under it. Our brave rooster struggled all day with the collar. We felt so sorry for him. Just when we were about to give up and take the collar off, he seemed to settle in and forget all about it. He hasn’t messed with it or seemed bothered by it since.
Although he can still crow, it is not a noise level that would bother anyone. He does seem healthy and happy despite having the collar on. Bo is able to eat, drink and communicate with the flock with lots of chicken noises. He is definitely the leader of the flock and I can attest that the hens do act differently with him in their midst. If one hen escapes out of the chicken yard, all I have to do is open the gate. Out he goes to round up the escapee. Trust me when I say that he does a much better job of getting the hens rounded up than I do! Our rooster puts a stop to any chicken yard squabbles in short order. Most importantly, when I go to lock up the coop at the end of the night, they are all inside the coop! Before I got a rooster, there were a few girls who liked to perch on top instead of going inside to roost. He has earned his keep with that single perk. Any animal that makes my job easier is going to stay around for sure. Not to mention, he is beautiful and we are looking forward to trying to raise some chicks of our own in the spring.
Although I never would have purposely bought a rooster to add to our flock, having one end up in our midst gave us the perfect opportunity to try out this device. After observing it myself I would give it a thumbs up for use in an urban setting. If you have had experience with the no crow rooster collar, let us know in the comments what you thought of it. Also, let us know how the behavior of your flock changed with the addition of a rooster?
Here’s a video of our rooster with the collar:
Anne-Marie or Dash (for the hyphen in her name) is an urban farmer in Dallas, Texas. She raises chickens and rabbits on less than ¼ of an acre. Plus, she has turned her front yard into a large stand-out-in-the neighborhood vegetable garden. In addition to the farming she does on her homestead, she helped create a community garden literally from grassy field to thriving garden. What stands out about her little urban homestead is her determined out of the box approach to overcoming obstacles. You can follow her adventures on her little urban homestead by visiting her blog, BloomWhereYourPlanted.com.