I want quiet hens. Which breed should I get?
Hens of most breeds are rather quiet except for right before and right after they have laid an egg. Then they may make a loud "announcement" about it for a few minutes, usually called a cackle. They seem to be very proud of their accomplishment! Some breeds like Brahmas, Australorps, Faverolles and Mille Fleur D'Uccles are often specifically described as being quiet, but frankly I've never seen too awful much difference between a "quiet" breed and a "normal" breed in my flock. Hens of most breeds are fairly unobtrusive.
Young pullets who have just begun to lay may be louder about it for longer--at least for a while until they get into the swing of things. I think the process of laying is surprising and uncomfortable to them, and it takes a while for them to properly interpret what their instincts are telling them to do. Hens are not loud once the sun has gone down, because they are sleeping, so that's good news. Chances are good that your hens will cease making any to-do once they get used to the process. It is always possible to get a loud individual (as individual personalities vary), but you can probably assure your neighbors that your girls just are gearing up for the season to be able to provide them with tasty eggs, and that after they've had time to adjust they will probably only speak loudly for a minute or two before or after laying. I do have a "loud" hen, but frankly she's still quieter than any dog.
To our knowledge, there is no way to ask a hen (or a rooster) to be quieter. Whenever I ask mine to shush, they act as if they can't understand me!