Ducks are a wonderful addition to a farm. Not only are they efficient at eating up scraps and turning them into eggs, but they can also help control unwanted pests and weeds. They’re a bit like the goat of the bird world. That said, like goats, they can come with a few unwanted behaviors that need specific interventions to curb. If your ducks are quacking at night, interrupting your sleep, or disturbing other animals, the following information can help you figure out why and what you can do to stop it.
8 Reasons Why Your Ducks Might Quack at Night
While ducks will almost always chatter a bit at night, this contented chatter should hardly be audible outside of a well-insulated coop. This chatter is different from the loud quacks and squawks emitted by a distressed bird. The chatter is simply your ducks’ way of communicating with each other. Actual quacks are rebukes, warnings, and sounds of alarm. The simplest answer to “Why do ducks quack at night?” Stress.
Lack of Routine
Implementing a strict routine is the first thing you should do if your ducks are quacking at night. This can help your birds know what to expect each morning and night. These expectations encourage sleep during the night and forage during the day. Ducks should be kept in a coop for no more than 10 hours each day unless there is heavy snow, ice, or danger of lightning.
Hunger, Thirst, or Bathing
Second, it’s important to ensure that all of your ducks have equal access to food and water. Is everyone getting enough food? Do you need to separate a few ducks during feeding time to ensure everyone has fair access? Some ducks and even drakes can be bullies when it comes to food and water. Having several bowls is good, especially if you have a larger flock.
Ducks also need regular access to deep water. They should be able to stick their head in and swish it around. This is how they clean out their nostrils or nares. This behavior helps prevent respiratory infections and allows them to breathe more easily.
Too Many (or Too Few) Ducks in One Spot
In small hobby farm conditions, you should have about 20 ducks in a flock with 3 to 4 ducks for every drake. This helps prevent fighting, bullying, and loneliness. At the smallest, a flock should be 3 ducks, all one sex or 2 females to 1 male.
Flocks of only drakes can be kept, though they may become aggressive toward each other. Having too few ducks, too many ducks, or the wrong ratio of ducks to drakes can lead to excessive stress and, from that, quacking. Flocks of all-female ducks for egg production do well in large groups. 30 to 50 ducks, in this scenario, is appropriate as long as each duck has plenty of space in a secure shelter or coop at night.
One of the most common reasons as to why ducks might quack loudly at night relates to drakes. If you have too few ducks for each drake, an overly aggressive drake, or too small a coop or shelter for your ducks, the drakes may pursue the ducks all night. The ducks will quack to get them to back off or as a general sign of distress. If a drake is too aggressive or tries to drown your ducks, it should be separated or culled.
Egg Laying or Nest Building
If a duck doesn’t have a way to feel protected while laying an egg, it will often quack loudly to have the other ducks make room. Even with nesting boxes or areas, some ducks will still quack when they lay but should only do so briefly.
Insecurity: Rodents and Predators
Rodents, including mice, rats, and rabbits can all cause high levels of stress in ducks, followed by quacking. Hearing predators, including unfamiliar dogs, patrol outside of the coop or test doors and fences can also cause high-stress levels.
Ducks can also quack when they are bored. This often happens if the pen they are kept in is too small or they have grown bored with the variety it offers. Changing up the scenery or landscape occasionally can help keep them occupied and encourage more exercise while they explore. Keeping your ducks cooped up for more than 10 hours a day can also lead to boredom.
Ducks will often chatter more in bad weather, but they will quack if they feel threatened. This could mean a thunderstorm is coming, heavy rains, or high winds. There’s not much you can do in this case, but the quacking would not be happening every night.
What You Can Do to Try to Stop Ducks Quacking at Night
Now that you can likely figure out why your ducks quack at night, you may be wondering how you can solve this issue. Below, you can see a list of basic options and tactics to try. If you would like more in-depth answers and strategies, check out my other article on how to keep ducks quiet.
- Get Into a Routine – Ducks thrive on routine. They should be let out at a certain time, fed at a certain time, and sent back into the coop or covered pen at a certain time. This reduces overall stress.
- Remove Food at Night – While it’s important to keep your ducks well fed and hydrated, feeding once a day, in the morning, can help establish a routine that encourages sleep at night rather than chatter. Always feed your ducks early enough in the day that the food is gone at night.
- Remove Water at Night – Ducks can groom, splash, and bath in most water dishes well into the night. Water dishes can also be deadly in close quarters if you mix your ducks and drakes at night.
- Ensure Your Ducks Can Clean Their Beaks and Faces – Water bottles and other watering systems designed for use with rodents or chickens should only be used supplementally with ducks. Ducks have trouble getting adequate water from these systems and they cannot use them to clear out their nostrils (called nares). This can lead to difficulty breathing and increased chatter.
- Separate Your Ducks from Your Drakes – Drakes can be aggressive at all times of the year. It’s not unusual for this to extend into the night. Ducks can even be so stressed and worn out by the pursuit of the drakes that they can die.
- Allow Your Ducks to Sleep Outside in a Secure Pen or Cage – Sleeping outside or with the door of their coop open can help ducks feel less “cooped up”.
- Give Your Ducks a “Separated” Area for Nesting or “Hiding” Eggs – Ducks can be vocal when they feel like they have nowhere secure to lay eggs. Giving them a few tall nesting boxes can help alleviate this stress.
- Introduce a Guardian – Ducks can defend themselves somewhat, especially in a group setting, but many predators will find them easy prey. Introducing a guardian dog to patrol your farm deters most of these. If the ducks are raised with the dog, they should not see it as a threat. Alternatively, guinea fowl are very effective when it comes to defending and reassuring a flock of ducks.
- Ensure There Are No Mice or Rats in the Coop – Though ducks have been known to capture and eat mice, rats can be a real danger to ducks. A rat can kill an adult duck under the right circumstances and rats will prey on ducklings regularly if given the chance. This danger will cause stress and “warning” quacks from ducks.
- Introduce Variety Into the Yard – Adding variety to the area where your ducks live will help reduce digging, aggression, stress that can interrupt egg-laying, and more unwanted behaviors in addition to excessive vocalizing. Variety can be added in the form of treats or additional forage foods (including access to a compost pile), swimming or splash areas, and duck-friendly toys such as mirrors, rope, or small obstacles and cover like tall grass or downed tree branches.