Muscovies are not related to any other duck, in fact some believe they are descended from geese rather than ducks. They originate from
South America where their ! They also have a penchant for flies, small slugs, snails and even frogs & newts.
The most obvious difference between them and ‘other’ ducks are the carruncles (the red stuff) on their faces which is more predominant in the
males. Interestingly, in females the bright red dulls to a deep orange when they’re broody, right through to raising their ducklings. A blatant
visual warning to the males to stay away!
Another difference is they have long, sharp claws which are used to attach to tree branches at night when they roost. Due to these claws there’
s a right and wrong way
to pick up a muscovy and the wrong way will end in bloodshed – yours that is. Put your carrying arm over and around its body, pinning both
wings in place and taking hold of one or both legs (depending on the size of the bird and the size of you) gently but firmly. This needs to be
done pretty quickly and if they start to struggle with you they’ll lash out trying to find their feet, and you’ll have first hand experience of those
Muscovy Duck Eggs
Ducks eggs are the richest, creamiest, smoothest eggs going. Actually, I feel so passionate about them that I’ve written an entire post on why
duck eggs rock. However, as wonderful as the Muscovy duck is, this isn’t the breed to get if you after an egg laying machine. You may want to
consider a Khaki Campbell or an Indian Runner as they lay far more per year.
Muscovies as Meat Birds
This is where the Muscovy excels, the meat is dark and very lean. If you’ve ever bought a supermarket duck (in the UK Aylesbury’s are the
most common meat bird sold) to roast at home you can almost watch the bird shrink in the oven, as the inch or more of fat under the skin
melts. This is all very well if you want to roast a gazillion potatoes to accompany the meal, but if you are striving for a healthier diet then the
lean meat of the muscovy is definitely the duck of choice. If you do grow your own to eat, I can highly recommend this recipe for Happy Duck
It’s worth knowing that the boys weigh in much heavier than the girls, and if you’re not sure of the age of the bird I would recommend a very
slow roast to tenderise the meat as it can be tough on an older bird, and baste frequently as it is so lean.
Feeding a Muscovy Duck
In the summer months our birds will require very little extra food as they forage plenty, but in the colder months they’ll need feeding a duck or
unmedicated chicken feed twice a day. If you are growing them to eat, put them on a growers ration, but if they are just for laying or for looking
pretty a layers ration will be fine. Make sure they have plenty of clean water close at hand as the dry food alone will make them poorly.
Muscovies make fantastic mothers and the most eggs we’ve had hatch is 15, which is pretty amazing as the girls aren’t all that big. We have
had them hatch chicken eggs too, although that can lead to problems when the mamma duck wants to teach her chicks to swim!
The Quiet Breed
One of the many reasons I am so smitten with my flock, is that they are very quiet. They don’t ‘quack’ which if you’ve had the misfortune to
meet a Call duck or an Aylesbury duck you’ll appreciate (I’m sorry for offending all you Call & Aylsebury fans but seriously – HOW do you live
that noise???!) Instead these guys nod their heads and have a gentle kind of hiss as a greeting. Oh, and they wag their tails. Seriously they
are really cute to watch.
Left to their own devices, they would be far happier sleeping on a tree branch safely out of harms way than on a pond or in a hut, and they are
the one duck breed not so in need of a large area of water. We’ve raised birds here with just a 4 inch deep tray of water, a cat litter tray is
good and pretty hard wearing. So long as the water is deep enough to get their nostrils and eyes under then it’s fine. It will need changing
twice daily as they will drink, clean, and probably poop in it, and everything around this area will get very, very muddy.