What breed of birds are quiet?

Hi Allison!
I got my chicken video the other day, thanks for sending it so quickly (and yes, the recyclable packing envelope worked just fine). Very useful and straightforward, it answered tons of initial questions for me. I’m looking forward to installing a few backyard girls to help out with garden chores and the occasional omelet (and/or maybe Sunday dinner). I also appreciate the thoughtful and precise section on butchering. No point in being coy about that sort of thing, and not something I care to explore through trial-and-error.

In the interest of friendly neighbor relations, we were considering bantams instead of full-size hens, hopefully brahmas, rocks, wyandottes or the like (no more thoughts of aracaunas, thanks for the heads-up on looney-tune inbred birds). Before we go making assumptions that may not be accurate, can I assume that bantams will be quieter than their full-sized counterparts? And are less likely to go hopping the 6 ‘ concrete block wall into the neighbor’s yard?

Also, the hatchery only offers bantams as straight run chicks. I was planning on maybe a dozen or so hens in the flock, so ordering the minimum 25 chicks will be fine---but, will the boys be worthwhile to butcher within a reasonable period of time before they start crowing and causing a ruckus? If I find somewhere else for the boys to go, at what age am I likely to be able to determine sex (aside from any sex-linked breeds)?

Hope your girls got through the recent heat wave last week okay. We’re out in Upland (in the Inland Empire) and it was 111 here last Saturday. Ick.

Thanks again.

Susan G., DVM


So glad to hear you liked the video. 8-)

If you do not plan to show chickens, I’d go with a mixed brown egg layer batch from a hatchery. There is no difference in noise level between bantam chickens and full size in my opinion, the loudest rooster I ever had was a gray cochin bantam that couldn’t have weighed much more than a pound.

Within that batch you will find some birds are quieter than others. My most recent order of full sized brown egg layers from Stromberg’s look like a cross between astrolarps (black) and rhode island reds (dark red) and they are the quietest birds I’ve ever had. They were handled a lot when being raised, the noisiest time is when one lays an egg, which they do almost every day. Their size is good, too, enough for a roasted chicken dinner. Bantys are so small it’s almost not worth the work — if you think of a “cornish game hen” they are about that size when dressed out but percentage wise they are more bone and less meat.

The roosters will be full-sized at about four months, about the same time they start to crow.

Bantys are actually more likely to fly, bigger hens can’t fly very high because of the way they’re built. They need stair steps to get more than about four feet off the ground. Mediterranean breeds (leghorns, sicilian buttercups, etc.) fly better than dual-purpose birds. Americanas fly really well and will escape first chance they get.

On second thought, silkies can't fly well at all, the ones I had for twelve years were great. They were calm and quiet but they don't lay a lot of eggs, so if that's your goal they may not be a good choice. Their skin and bones and meat are also black, which is a little weird until you cook them, when the meat turns to be normal cooked chicken color but the bones remain black.

I show how to determine sex in the video from looking at spurs and combs. Usually you can tell at about 4-5 weeks, though behavior is a tell and you can sometimes know earlier from how aggressive they are.

It's been hot here too, my girls were warm but with

  • Shade cloth
  • Misters in the hen yard
  • Big mulberry bush for more shade

They did ok. No losses this time.

On the percentage of roosters to hens in straight run...hatcheries tell me with chickens it is 60% roosters to 40% hens. Of course hens sell for more so who knows if that is really the percentage that comes out of the hatching crate.

Hope this answers all your questions, write back if not. Cheers for chickens!


Hi Allison, thanks for the reply and answers. We found a hatchery that will send small numbers of chicks (as few as three, with a "TLC" warmer to keep them happy), so we're able to avoid the potential issues with roosters, neighbors and too many chickens at once. As it turns out, www.mypetchicken.com also has sexed bantam chicks, but we took your advice and ordered standard chicks. I don't mind putting the occasional chicken on the table, but my husband prefers not (and we have a source for pasture-raised and humanely harvested chickens, so can still avoid the factory-farmed sources). We ordered a silver-laced wyandotte, a buff orpington, a barred plymouth rock and a blue cochin just because they're so flippin' cute. I was really wishing for a light or buff brahma, but they were sold out for the year. Four seemed a good starting number until we get the neighbor thoroughly hooked on fresh, free eggs <g>, then maybe add another one or two (maybe I can find my brahmas by then). They'll be coming in late August, which gives us some time to build the coop and run (they'll also get free-range time in the garden when they're older, and once I get the veggies fenced off). We're putting it next to some existing grapevines, so will install some shade cloth on the sunny side (it'll already have a solid roof) until the grapevines fill in.

You'll love this, I thought about where to raise the chicks the first month or so and decided the best climate control and supervision is at my animal hospital. I can't WAIT to tell the staff that their duties are now expanded to include chick janitorial duties and playtime.

Thanks again. I'll send you some photos of our outlaw chickens when they arrive.