Something to Crow About

We don’t have roosters on our farm anymore. Carl and Rasputin had to go to new homes because they kept raking Mom and Dad with their spurs.

We don’t have roosters on our farm anymore. Carl and Rasputin had to go to new homes because they kept raking Mom and Dad with their spurs. Yes, spurs! Spurs are long, pointy growths on the back of roosters’ legs that they use as weapons. Ouch!

When a cockerel (that’s a rooster chick) hatches, he has little bumps called papillae where his spurs will be. As he matures, his papillae grow larger, harden and start to curve. Because spurs are an outgrowth of leg bones, they can’t be removed from grownup roosters, but a veterinarian can remove papillae before they harden from tiny chicks. If you don’t have the spurs removed as chicks, you can file the tips of spurs on big guys like Carl and Rasputin, but even then, spurring hurts.

Our roosters joined two much larger flocks where they don’t have to be so aggressive about “protecting” their few hens. Our hens don’t seem to miss them, but Mom misses hearing them crow.

Most people think that roosters crow at daybreak, but the truth is they crow all the time, even in the dead of night if something arouses them, like a dog barking or a goat walking past their coop.

Some roosters crow louder than others and each rooster’s call is unique. Dominant roosters have higher pitched crows than those farther down in the pecking order. Roosters inherit their style of crowing, so family members sound somewhat alike.

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Hens sometimes crow, too. In olden days a crowing hen was considered an unfortunate omen. In fact, a crowing hen might be ill or taking on leadership of an all-hen flock.

In the English-speaking world, humans say a rooster’s crow sounds like “cock-a-doodle-do.” However, in most languages rooster crows are onomatopoetic, that means they’re spelled the way a crowing rooster sounds. Here is what roosters say in other lands:

Bulgarian: kukurigu
Czech: kykyryký
Dutch: kúkelekúú
Estonia: kikerikii
Finnish: kukkokiekuu
French: cocorico
German: kikeriki
Greek: kikiriki
Hebrew: kukuriku
Hungarian: kukurikúú
Indonesia: kukuruyuk
Japanese: kokekokko
Lithuanian: kakariekuuuu
Montenegrin: kukuriku
Norwegian: kykkelikiii
Polish: kukuryku
Portuguese: cócórócócó
Romanian: cucurigu
Russian: kukuryku
Spanish: kikirikí
Swedish: kuckeliku
Turkish: üü ürüüü ürüüü
Ukrainian: kukuriku
Vietnamese: cuc-cuc-cu

The most remarkable crowers of all don’t call “cock-a-doodle-do” like everyday roosters. Roosters of the longcrower breeds begin crowing like normal roosters, but their final note is long, creepy-sounding call that goes on and on until the rooster runs out of breath. Drenica longcrower chickens of Kosovo crow for as long as 60 seconds! Chicken fanciers in Japan, the Balkans, Turkey and Germany developed long crowers hundreds of years ago, but they’re just now arriving in the United States. American longcrowers crow for seven to 15 seconds. If you think you’d like to raise longcrowers, watch the YouTube video above and listen up. That’s a Turkish Denizili rooster. After hearing him crow I bet you change your mind!

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