Creature Feature: Muscovy “Ducks”

Superb homesteading animal

  • Benefits
    • Eggs 50-125 per year, during their season. Birds will lay more if eggs are collected daily and they are not allowed to complete and sit a nest.
    • More muscovies
      • Consider even half of that number being offspring per year per laying Muscovy. They’re the flock champions of mothering and can pull off 1-3 large clutches (of up to 20 eggs!) per year.
        • Mulards & Hinnies
    • Meat
      • When not raised to obesity, Muscovy ducks are notable for meat significantly leaner and stronger-tasting than that of their mallard cousins.
      • Hefty carcass and unique meat flavor offset long, 12-20 week, grow-out period. Reviewers compare the flavor of Muscovy duck to roast beef, ham, and veal, varying by preparation method.
    • Feathers
      • The down structure of the Muscovy is the closest of domestic birds to that of the Eider duck, producer of the renowned eiderdown.
    • Fertilizer
    • Pest Control
      • Muscovies, possibly hence the name, can boast the ability and drive to snatch flying insects, most notably flies, out of the air.
    • Entertainment & yard company
      • I’ve always loved watching chickens, but these guys are on a different level. Intelligent and interested, without the raptor-like bloodlust thirst for flesh that chickens have. My drakes come up to me, tails wagging, arching and bowing their necks, and huffing up a storm, and will greedily eat from my hands. The females are more reserved, but Ankka will accept a nibble from me.
  • They are also said to be ‘silent’ ducks but, while quackless, Muscovies have a variety of vocalizations and are usually talking to me or to one another. My male, Oli, huffs with varying urgency as a response to most situations, and Utie and Anka chirp and trill. I also recently attended some sort of duck meeting, where they were all bobbing their heads, puffing their wings, and making a sound like geese whispering and croaking. Once in a while, one makes a single honk if startled or pecked by a chicken.
    • They are a good choice for a low-profile backyard flock
    • Draws fewer predators? Find citation of the noisy call ducks attracting predators in support
  • Strong foragers
  • All ducks resistant to disease/parasites compared to chickens
  • Lower water motivation
    • Runner ducks also not super into water
    • Less contaminated water better for multi-species situations and setups with smaller waterers
  • Good free rangers
    • Strong foragers
    • Competent fliers -ADDRESS FLYING YO. Trimming vs. pinioning.

Muscovies, along with turkeys, are one of two domestic fowl originating in the Americas and are, in fact, a distinct species from, Cairina moschata; often written CITATIONto be more closely related to geese than to the mallard-derived domestic ducks.

  • Producing less oil than true ducks (inside and out; the meat is also less greasy), CITATIONmuscovies are only slightly more water-resistant than the chickens, and are mercifully not compelled to bathe in any bit of water they see.

Background, Feral, Domestic

  • Used to hatch conservation species
  • American natives
    • Rio Grande Valley
  • Legislative Status
  • Kosher status
  • shared nesting, called dump nesting

Physical 

David W. and Mildred M. Holderread. Raising the Home Duck Flock. Storey Publishing, LLC, 1978.

Drowns, Glenn. Storey’s Guide to Raising Poultry. 4th ed., Storey Pub., 2012.