They are undeniably cute, but it won’t be long at all before you notice that they are also quite noisy.
It seems like baby chicks chirp pretty much non-stop, day and night, so long as they are awake. Just why do baby chicks chirp so much?
Chicks chirp to communicate and typically chirp loudly and insistently when something is wrong. They might be thirsty, hungry, cold, in pain, or aware of nearby danger.
One thing that brand new chicken keepers get wrong regularly is its failure to differentiate the soft chirp of contentment and activity against a louder and more insistent chirp that tells you or their mom that something is wrong.
It isn’t hard to do with a little bit of know-how, and in the rest of this article, we will tell you all the many reasons that chicks chirp to communicate.
Your Chicks are Chirping to Communicate
No matter why chicks are chirping, whether it is loud or soft, know that they are doing it to communicate.
It’s important to be able to read their chirps and know when they are trying to tell you something so that you can address whatever issue they might have.
Now, they might be chirping as they move around the brooder or coop, or when snuggled up next to their siblings. They could do it when they are happy, or unhappy.
All you need to know is that there is a reason for their sounding off, even if it isn’t something immediately apparent to you.
This is another thing to keep in mind, is that chicks are rarely, if ever, silent unless they are sleeping.
Loud, Insistent Chirping is a Sign of Distress
Acquaint yourself with the idea that chicks will cry out for much the same reasons as a human baby will: it is the only way they have to communicate!
And much like a human baby and other infant animals a distress cry sounds different from a simple cry for attention or to locate mom.
You might not think there would be much difference, but there definitely is. A distressed chick will hold chirp loudly, clearly, and insistently. It has an almost piercing or ringing tone to it, and will definitely get your attention.
Contrast this with the softer and almost muted peep they emit when content. Even when you’re standing near the brooder the latter can be tough to hear; not so with the former!
You must be alert to this difference…
If you detect it among the other chirps you should investigate as a single chick is having issues. If you hear a chorus of insistent chirping something has definitely gone wrong!
In any case, always investigate, troubleshoot, and find out what the problem is.
The following sections cover the most common reasons why a chick or group of chicks could be chirping loudly and non-stop.
Chicks Chirp When Thirsty
Chicks chirp when basic needs are not met, and a lack of water will quickly set them to chirp loudly.
If you find that your chicks are chirping for attention, always check their water first to rule this out as a possibility.
A chick can only go without water for a very short time before it starts becoming distressed, so make sure that you keep an eye on its water levels and top it up whenever necessary.
It is also important to make sure that the water is clean and fresh, as chicks are very susceptible to contamination.
To avoid any potential problems, it is best to use a chicken waterer specifically designed for chicks.
These have smaller drinking areas that prevent them from getting wet and cold, which can lead to other problems such as chilling or respiratory infections.
They Will Chirp When Hungry
Another fundamental need that your chicks will be more than happy to alert you over. Chicks need to eat often, so if they are chirping it could be because they are hungry.
As with water, you should always make sure that your chicks have food available to them whenever they need it.
A good quality chick starter feed is essential, as this will give them all the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.
When feeding your chicks, it is important to use a chick feeder or other solution specifically designed for their needs.
These have smaller compartments that prevent the chicks from getting their heads stuck. This can lead to injury or even death if not addressed quickly enough.
Chicks Chirp Loudly When Cold
Chicks are very vulnerable to cold and must have temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 37 Celsius) for the first weeks of their lives depending on their stage of development.
If they start to get cold, they will let you know about it with some very insistent chirping!
To make sure that your chicks stay warm, you should use a heat lamp placed over the brooder. This will provide them with the warmth they need to stay comfortable.
Make sure that the lamp is not placed too close to the chicks, as this can lead to them getting too hot, and as always watch out for fire hazards.
You can also provide your chicks with a heating pad designed specifically for their needs. These are placed under the brooder, and help to keep the area warm without the risk of the chicks getting too hot.
As your chicks grow older, they will be able to regulate their own body temperature better and won’t need such high temps but, in the meantime, expect to hear that chorus the moment they get chilly.
If you check on your chicks and notice them all chirping while huddled together, this is almost certainly why.
Chicks May Chirp When in Pain
As sad as it is to consider a cute little chick suffering in pain, they may be chirping for exactly that reason.
Chicks are very susceptible to injury and disease, so if you notice that one or more of your chicks are chirping loudly it could be a sign that something is wrong, and maybe something you cannot see.
If you suspect an injured or sick chick, the best thing to do is to isolate it from the others. This will help to prevent the spread of any infection, if present, and will also give you a chance to assess the presence and extent of any injury.
If it seems serious, then you should seek professional advice from a vet as soon as possible if you want to save the little thing.
There are many diseases that can affect chicks, some of which are fatal if not treated quickly enough.
Chirping can be a symptom of many different illnesses or pains, so if you are able to rule out water, food and temperature concerns it is time to start digging deeper.
Chirping is a Response to Danger
As well as letting you know when they need something, chicks will also chirp to let you know when they are afraid or in danger.
This is a natural response that helps them stay safe, as the noise will hopefully alert adult chickens to their presence and then give them a chance to escape.
If your chicks are chirping loudly and continuously, it could be because they feel threatened in some way. The first thing you should do is check the area around the brooder for any potential hazards.
Chicks can also become scared if there is a sudden loud noise, such as a door slamming, or if someone enters the room quickly and unexpectedly.
Sudden, explosive noises from above will greatly distress chicks, so always make it a point to keep your movements slow and measured when around them.
Assuming you have cleared the area of any potential threat, real or imagined, the best thing you can do is to try and reassure them by speaking calmly and gently.
Place your hand in the brooder so that they can become used to your presence, and after a short while they should start to settle down.
Softer, Less Frequent Chirping is Normal
Baby chicks chirp loudly for a variety of reasons, the most common being thirst, hunger, or cold, but they also chirp when they are happy or content, though they are thankfully not as loud or insistent.
If your chicks are chirping softly and not too often, this is perfectly normal behavior and nothing to worry about.
By understanding what might be causing your chicks to chirp, you can take steps to address the problem and ensure that they stay healthy and happy.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.