Though there are only 3 primary reasons a duck might quack, there are plenty of ways to help solve all of these issues. Over the years, I’ve found that sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. The simple act of adding a large fallen branch to the duck pen can be all it takes to keep the ducks occupied for up to a week. No matter when or why your ducks are quacking, there is a potential solution below.
Primary Causes of Ducks Being Overly Loud/Quacking All the Time
Ducks are very smart, versatile animals. As sweet as they can be most of the time, they can be equally as infuriating if they just won’t behave. The good news is that because they are smart and well-behaved when calm and happy (excepting the usual mild chatter), there are only a few reasons why they might be quacking when they’re not supposed to. These reasons can all be placed under one of the following 3 labels.
- Insecurity – Ducks quack to ward off predators as well as other ducks, and to warn other ducks of potential danger.
- Loneliness – Ducks quack when they want attention from other ducks. The quacks can serve as a beacon to call other ducks over. Ideally, you have a flock of 3 or more. 1 to 2 ducks can result in quacks due to loneliness. If a duck has been ostracized from its flock (due to a health condition or injury), it may also quack due to loneliness.
- Boredom – Ducks get bored just like most other intelligent animals. When they have the same scenery and food every single day, they can get bored and will start making noise just to “shake things up.”
How to Keep Ducks Quiet (12 Things That Have Worked for Me)
So you want to know how to keep ducks quiet? First, you’ll need to know why your ducks are quacking. Once you have a general idea about that, you can go down the following list and find a solution or two that should solve your problem.
Get Into a Routine
Ducks like a routine that helps them predict what comes next, when they will be able to bathe, and when the next meal is. Ducks should be let out of their pen and fed every morning and shut back in about an hour before the sun goes down each evening. Ducks should not be enclosed for more than 10 hours in a day unless there is very poor weather.
Separate Ducks from Your Drakes
Drakes can get aggressive, even if you only have 2 drakes to 10 or more ducks. Even a single drake of bad temperament can chase ducks all night with no rest. This is one of the most common reasons ducks will quack at night. Keeping your drakes partitioned away from your ducks is an easy solution, especially if there are ducklings around.
Only Keep Ducks (No Drakes)
For egg production, you don’t need a drake most of the time. While it can be useful to keep a drake in a separate pen with your best ducks if and when you want to increase the size of your flock, you can often go 3 years or so at a time with no drake on the farm.
Choose a Quieter Breed of Duck
Some duck breeds are louder than others. Muscovies, for example, aren’t necessarily a true duck but they are very similar and extremely quiet. Their “quack” is more of a hiss. Other ducks, like the Welsh Harlequin, also have a higher stress tolerance and softer quack than, say, a call duck or Pekin duck. Runner ducks and Khaki Campbells also tend to be less likely to quack loudly, even when stressed.
Add More Water to the Duck Enclosure
Ducks will quack to help clear out their nares (or nostrils) if the water they have access to is not deep enough to take care of this problem. Insufficient clean, deep water will lead to respiratory issues in ducks.
Give Your Ducks a New Place to Nest
While most chickens prefer to use a nesting box to lay eggs and will use that same box every single time without a fuss, ducks are different. Most ducks like to try and hide their eggs. The easiest solution to this problem is to provide nesting boxes in each corner or an enclosure filled with straw. This allows your ducks to have several nesting spots to choose from as well as an easy way to cover up their eggs.
Introduce a Guardian Dog, Goose, or Guinea
While geese and guardian dogs can help improve the sense of security your flock has, provided they were brought up with the dog, these can be noisy solutions. Guinea fowl are an oft-overlooked choice for a guardian animal. These shy birds are fierce fighters and extremely loyal to the flocks they look after.
Give Your Ducks Variety to Reduce Boredom
Ducks can get bored, just like dogs or pigs, and that boredom can lead to unwanted behaviors. Boredom can be reduced by increasing plant and forage variety, having enough ducks, adding swimming and splash zones to a pen, or using branches, stumps, and rocks to increase the terrain variety of the duck enclosure.
Get More Ducks
Sometimes you just don’t have enough ducks for your flock to feel secure. While 3 ducks can work well to curb loneliness, a flock of 8 or more provides a better overall sense of well-being.
Check Your Ducks for Parasites (and Treat Them)
While it’s not what anyone wants to do, if you’ve gotten this far down the list and haven’t found a solution, you may have to start ruling out health conditions. There are 3 primary health conditions to check for. These include feather lice and mites, as well as intestinal worms and muscle parasites.
Feed Your Ducks More Calcium
Ducks need a consistent supply of calcium to replenish stores lost throughout the year, just like most other living animals. Egg-laying ducks need calcium in their feed and will both use and consume significantly more calcium than chickens. If you are feeding a chicken layer feed or a feed designed for a mixed flock, really anything other than a feed designed for laying ducks, you should set out a pan of a calcium supplement like crushed oyster shells.
Ensure Your Ducks Have Enough Grit
Like with the calcium solution above, your ducks may not have enough grit available to choose from. Grit is necessary to fill the duck’s gizzards and help digest food. Most feed and farm stores will have grit available. Clean, fine gravel can also work. Chunks of oyster shells count as both grit and a source of calcium.
How to Keep Ducks Quiet at Night
While most of the above solutions solve for quacking at any time of the day or night, there are 3 additional solutions that focus on stopping quacks that only happen or that intensify at night.
Remove Food and Water at Night
While this might seem simple after the fact, I staunchly believed that my ducks should have full access to water at all times. This can be done with a water bottle in hot weather, but deep pans of water should be removed from the coop or shelter at night to prevent grooming, fighting, and other mischiefs that ducks tend to get into when given a pool of any kind at night.
Allow Your Ducks to Sleep Outside
While not the safest solution, this can be done without too much risk by taking advantage of a covered pen or guardian animal. The open door to the shelter can help the ducks feel less “cooped up” and reduces stress. However, most domestic ducks shouldn’t mind being kept in an enclosed shelter at night if they are kept inside no longer than 10 hours a day, have plenty of room for each duck inside, and are kept engaged when they roam or forage outside.
Clear Rats and Mice Out of the Coop
Ducks will catch and eat mice, keeping their populations in a barn or coop low. Rats, on the other hand, are just large enough to be a real threat to ducks. To keep your ducks both wound and parasite-free, trap rats that happen to get inside of the coop and seal the coop as well as you can against these potential threats.