Muscovies are excellent livestock for urban farming purposes.
While they are often referred to as a duck, they aren’t derived of the Mallard like other domestic duck breeds and scientists regard them as more of a goose than a duck.
Muscovies are much quieter than either ducks or geese – they hiss rather than quack or honk – so they’re less likely to annoy your neighbours.
Muscovies, like geese, are grazers and a large part of their diet can come from good forage. Like ducks, they’ll happily clean up food wasted by other animals and they love live food – like worms, slaters, earwigs, flies and mosquitoes. Ducklings will hunt flies almost as soon as they are hatched.
While they’re generally classified as waterfowl, Muscovies do not require water in which to swim. They do, however, need plenty of fresh water to drink. Ducks often mix food and water together when eating so their waterers need daily scrubbing. The waterers also need to be deep enough to enable them to immerse their eyes to keep them clean.
They have powerful claws that enable them to roost in trees. While they don’t fly far, they can still manage to soar over a fence into the neighbour’s garden. This can be prevented by removing the flight feathers from one wing.
Housing can be fairly basic but it should offer adequate protection from predators and it must be easy to clean if problems with odours (and neighbours) are to be avoided.
Muscovy drakes weigh up to 7kg and ducks weigh 3-4kg. They have a distinctive red caruncle around their face and bill. While they come in a variety of colours, white Muscovies make for a cleaner carcase if you’re keeping them for meat.
Muscovies should be about 7 months of age before commencing breeding. To ensure optimum fertility and hatchability, provide a suitable breeder ration at least a month prior to the commencement of egg production.
Muscovies set clutches of between 8 and 20 eggs and they can do it three or four times per year. Egg production can be extended if an electric incubator is used for hatching. The eggs take 35 days to hatch.
If a duck hatches its own eggs, she’ll also provide the warmth that the ducklings need during the first few weeks. Alternatively, this supplementary warmth can be provided by a small gas or electric brooder.
Small groups of duck eggs can also be hatched and brooded by chicken hens or bantams – assuming you have broody birds available and assuming that they will accept the ‘ring ins.’
Muscovies are usually better mothers than other ducks but it’s best to keep the drakes separate from the ducklings. Their sheer size presents a hazard and they will sometimes trample ducklings. Keeping them confined will also stop cats and crows from getting the ducklings and will prevent the duck from leading her young through wet grass which can chill them.
The ducklings take about 14 – 16 weeks to reach eating size. Day olds can be fed a chick starter ration if duck rations are not available. After 3 weeks, the ducklings can be switched to a chicken grower ration.
Preparing your own inexpensive duck rations is easy and will enable you to impart a unique tastes to the meat.
The Muscovy is highly regarded as a premium table bird by members of our Asian communities. The breast on a Muscovy is large and almost fat-free. Even the skin is less fatty than that of a regular duck.
I have 2 females and 2 males. And I have a slight problem with my 2 females!
The older Female keeps attacking the younger femal bypecking her and sitting on her, it’s only just started happening. .
This is distressing the younger one a bit to the point she is scared..
I have separated them. Is this normal ? What should I do?
Kathy…..Muscovies can be very aggressive in their establishment of the pecking order. While I know it’s disturbing to see these birds work each other over, try to let them settle down and only intervene if it looks like one of them is being injured badly. You may have one male too many, too.
Can you help! My muscovy is scratching around his neck and has lost his feathers from this area. Can you tell me why and what I can do about it.
Maria Morrow……It sounds very much like your duck has an external parasite problem…..like poultry mites. Get a dusting powder from your feed store and dust around the affected areas and also under the wings, in the breast feathers and around the vent.
Hi it’s Sean here those 2 ducklings that the mothers attacked are doing good they hatched 3 ducklings that are bigger than the mothers. The father is a drake that i got from a man named Ray Matherson and the drake is 13 kilos. My other best duck and drake hatched 9 ducklings and the mother took all of her ducklings plus the mother3 from the the ducks plus the 10 call duck ducklings i had. Is that normal?
Sean Nordling…..I’m pleased that things have settled down for you. It’s not uncommon for ducklings to desert their mothers and to join up with another clutch of ducklings.
I am the lucky owner of two female and 1 male coloured Muscovy.At the moment the girls are sitting on 8 eggs…I have found for extra warmth for the eggs , I use shredded paper and sugar cane mulch…this my 1st breeding attempt..I am concerned with what the young ducklings should be given to eat..I am able to get chick mash..is this suitable? I feed my ducks lettuce,mixed grain in the morning..table scraps,lettuce and pet mince of an evening as well as what they forage through the day…the mash mix I give to them dry and it contains mollasses..mix without it remains untouched..the pet mince has crushed chicken carcasses,a few vegies ,red meat and offal..they absolutely love it.
Can the young ducklings eat this and at what age should I introduce it into their diet?
I keep my Muscovies at breeding seperated from a Saxony drake and a Rouen Claire duck as breeding with thse will only produce mules suitable only for the table.
One thing I ahve noticed is that the Muscovy Drake becomes aggresive when I wear red..he considres me a threat and will chase and peck me..if you want a happy peaceful drake DONT wear red near him nor have a red bucket..you maybe sorry and damaged if you do!!!!Happy breeding
I would like to know if a Muscovie can mate with a goose.
Hi All, I have two mucsovy drakes, and wanting to give them away, They need ducks. are any muscovy lovers willing to take them on. I live in victoria Australia
I am new here and have 15 muscovy ducklings arriving in a couple weeks. I am interested in the mash ‘homemade’ that Gary mentioned and would love the recipe. I am beginning worm farming for compost and duck feed, and being near farms I have an intolerable amount of large black flies….so looking forward to seeing this problem decrease while knowing they are now supplemental feed for my ducks. Yeah! .
I raised Mallards but Muscovies are new to me. I have a insulated electrified heated shed for winter nights, and brooding although I have heard these ‘adult’ ducks can weather quite cold temperatures. Anyone know what temps they can tolerate.
Also, I have electrified fencing for nigerian dwarf goats yet these ducks will fly right over. I am wondering if I need to actually pen the females at night when they are not brooding, or if the females perch at night resulting in better protection from predators. I am considering the Poultry guard dogs to protect them at night especially since I appreciate free range. I am fortunate to have wonderful retired farmers as neighbors who love the company of my dogs and chickens who cannot distinguish between property lines. The goats are on leads when they are walked over by me. Lots of old fields surround me without any roads. My only trye concern is predators.
Any information that can help me keep a happy and healthy flock is greatly appreciated. SO EXCITED!
Barbara…….Your Muscovies will certainly do their bit when it comes to reducing the fly population. Duckling hunt flies from the time they hatch.
Muscovies can handle cold weather (in an Australian context) but I don’t know how they’d go in a place that experiences permafrost, for example. Ducklings require supplementary heat for the first few weeks after hatching.
Your flying duck problem can be resolved by clipping the flight feathers on one wing. This stops them from being able to soar over fences and onto roof tops and the like.
Muscovies are hardy and, with some basic husbandry, rarely get sick.
As for your question about home made rations…….Muscovies will eat pretty much anything that chickens will.
For convenience sake, we currently feed a proprietary organic poultry ration…..to all of our chickens, ducks and quail. While it costs more than non-organic feed, we know what not in it, at least.
You can make an acceptable breakfast ration for poultry out of mill run (a combination of wheat bran and pollard) mixed with kitchen scraps and chopped up fruit and vegetable peelings. We pour boiling water onto the mash and mix it all up. The ensuing melee as we serve up the food attests to the way our birds feel about it.
You can bolster the protein level of this mash by adding a bit of soybean meal.
Muscovies will eat good pasture (and many weeds) quite happily, too.
For more information about what ducks will eat, do a Google search relevant to your area.
I have got 9 muscovies at my place and i love each and every one of them. I’m a breeder and i show my muscovies. 1 of my ducks is sitting on eggs. @ weeks ago i had 2 muscovies sitting on 13 eggs in the same nest is this common? When the duckings started to come out the mothers attacked the ducklings, out of 13, 2 survived. What could have cause the mothers to attack the ducklings? The 2 that survived are doing will they are two weeks old and they are starting to follow me around, this isn’t my first time raiseing a mascovy duckling. I raised one nearly two years ago and he is a happy father to 4 ducklings.
Thanks for listening
Sean Nordling…….While your experience with a duck that kills her young is rare, it does happen. It sometimes happens when the duck has been stressed……by a wandering dog or other would-be predator. The protective instinct that would usually kick in goes awry and dead or injured ducklings are the result.
Other times, it may be nothing more than a confused duck who actually sees the new arrivals as a threat.
This is one reason that I advocate taking the ducklings from a first-time mother…….and raising them under a brooder.
For what it’s worth, other animals (eg…..rabbits) will do the same thing.
Hi I have 3 muscovies 1 male 2 females and have just been given a mallard female the 2 females are all over the poor thing so Ive seperated them, will they eventually all get on or will it always be like this.
Cath……..the ducks should eventually get over it but the drake is the bigger (literally) problem. He will eventually try to mate withe your Mallard by which time he’ll be more than twice her size. I’d consider getting some more mallards and let her play with her own kind.
To all those Muscovy duck lovers out there. We have a farm of muscovy ducks, the idea is to bred them up for table meat. We currently have 20 ducklings and are all doing well. As it is winter here in qld the female who hatched all the ducklings is having diffculity in keeping all the duckings warm, unfortunatley I have already lost 2 to the cold, they were unable to get under the mother to keep warm. To remedy the problem I have now placed the mother and ducklings into a homemade pen that is insulated and has a spotlight installed, this keeps the tempeture up to around 30 degrees, so far no loses of ducklings. We are new at the duck thing, but are learning quickly. The muscovy duck is very good with catching flies, living on a farm in central queesland we have our fair share of flies, the ducks take care of the files and is down by 90%, what a difference the ducks have made. I feed our ducks some laying mash, turkey starter and I make up a mix of cabbage, lettuce, grated carrot, oats and cracked corn for them threee times a week, they really love this mix, and they look very healthy. My breding male weighs in at 9kg. I’m in the process of creating a webpage called Muscovy, when this is completed you are invited to visit this site.
I have heard Muscovies called “clowns in feathers”. 🙂 Been trying to locate some for a while now but will keep trying until I do. I am in South Africa. You mentioned that preparing your own duck rations is easy and allows for better meat. How would you do this Gary? I have designed a maggotry to feed my tilapia, chickens and muscovies-to-be! What else would you suggest? I am very interested in becoming self-sustaining. Really glad to have come upon your site. See you are into AP. I am building my first system. Going to enjoy reading all your posts! : ) Thank you for them.
Muscovies are fascinating birds in terms of possibiliities. I recently saw a couple of true wild ones in Venezuela and couldn’t believe how different they looked from the farmyard birds (perhaps no more different than aylesbury vs. wild mallard but it was really noticeable). In the UK they seem to be very much a hobbyists bird with very little bigger scale production which has always surprised me.
@ tai haku – Domesticated muscovies have been selected for their meat qualities for many generations so it’s not surprising that they would be different. I’d also like to see them in the wild.