After you’ve been keeping backyard chickens for a while and enjoyed finding eggs in their nesting boxes each day you’ll start to notice something …
Chickens often squawk after laying an egg.
Or it might sound more like clucking and yapping. Whatever it sounds like, it’s called the “egg song”.
This is great for you. Once you’re familiar with the sounds your chickens make after laying, you’ll know there’s going to be an egg in their nesting box.
But why do chickens squawk after laying an egg? For the most part, it’s believed to be because the hen is distracting predators, letting her flock mates know, and attracting a rooster.
There are some things we do know, and some things we don’t. It’s an interesting question though, let’s take a more detailed look at why chickens sing the egg song:
What Is the Egg Song?
The egg song is whatever noises a chicken makes after laying an egg.
Typically, it consists of a series of squawks, bwaks and cackling noises. Or, more accurately, if this makes sense - “buck-buck-buck-baduuuck!”
The best way I describe it to people is that it’s those stereotypical chicken noises you always hear chickens making in movies.
It can last for several minutes at a time. Other hens or the resident rooster will often join in, too, forming quite the chorus.
I like how there is still so much mystery shrouding such a common and well-known activity. Maybe you have your own thoughts on why hens do this?
Here’s a video of a proud hen announcing she’s just laid an egg if you want to see and hear exactly what it sounds like:
Why Do Chickens Sing the Egg Song After Laying?
They’re Announcing It to Other Hens
Lying an egg is a big deal, and it never gets old to hens. One school of thought is that a hen wants to announce their new addition to the world and let the other hens know they’re laying.
It’s not known exactly why. Maybe to let other hens know they’re on form, or has something to do with the hierarchy without the flock.
It’s Distraction Tactics
I’ve observed some chickens sound their egg song away from where they laid their egg. They will literally take a walk to the far side of the yard away from the coop to announce it.
Looking at this from a common-sense perspective, this would be to distract potential predators and egg thieves. Obviously, we know exactly what’s up. But chickens have been able to survive in the wild just fine, so it works.
It Is A Mating Ritual
If you have a rooster in your flock and you’ve been fortunate enough to witness the egg song - you may have seen a rooster do a mating dance in response.
There’s one thing we know for sure, the egg song has a strange effect on roosters. They will often communicate back to the hen, do a little dance as I said, and might even mount and mate with the hen.
Related content - How long does a rooster live?
Any vocalization from a hen is a form of communication. Again, I’ve not read a study that has been able to pinpoint exactly what they’re communicating by singing their egg song, but we can take a guess.
I think one reason is that the hen is letting their flock members know there’s a new egg so they’ll be aware it’s there. It might even be a security thing, so other flock members can let her know if there are any threats.
Do All Chickens Cluck or Squawk Loudly After Laying an Egg?
The answer to this is no, for a couple of reasons.
First, it comes down to the individual hen. Now, almost all hens will cluck loudly after laying, and I’m pretty sure I’ve not seen one in person that didn’t.
I’ve read in forums that other owners have said they’ve had hens that didn’t sing the egg song, however, so it’s perfectly possible.
It also depends on the breed of chicken. Some breeds are noisier than others in general, and these are more likely to cluck up a storm after laying.
To name a few; Polish hens, easter eggers and Cornish hens are known to be very noisy. Steer clear of those if you’re looking for a quiet breed.
Look at a Bantam, Buff Orpington, or a Rhode Island Red. All three of these are known to be quieter chickens, and they’re great egg layers. Remember, this doesn’t mean you won’t cluck up a loud egg song, only time will tell.
There you have it, several reasons why we think chickens squawk, cluck, and bwark loudly after laying an egg.
You are now familiar with egg song. Somewhat a rite of passage of all backyard chicken keepers, and a pretty good alarm clock letting you know you’ll find an egg in your chook’s nesting box.