Muscovy Ducks


  Muscovy are the only domestic ducks that do not come from Mallard stock. They are a South American species, originating from Brazil. The original (wild type) coloration is black and white, but domestication has produced many more colors. These colors include; blue, blue and white, chocolate, chocolate and white, white, black, black and white, lavender, and calical. Day old ducklings colors range from a solid pale yellow to yellow and black, the feet are yellow and black. Muscovy tend to hiss rather than quack.


The males can grow to be quite large, weighing 10-15 lbs. Most of the females are 5-7 pounds but can reach up to 9 and sometimes 10 lbs. Their feet have strong sharp claws and are built to grasp, so that they can perch on branches. Muscovy are unique because of their bright red crest around their eyes and above the beak. Although, often considered ugly because of these large red warty caruncles. They are, however, very personable, interesting birds. They are quite intelligent and entertaining. 

Unlike most  domestic waterfowl, Muscovy will often fly up and roost. They are very good flyers, especially the smaller females, but are known more for flying around than flying away. We have a hen that tours the neighborhood. Never landing anywhere but home. They do not swim much because their oil glands are under developed compared to most ducks. Muscovy hens can set three times a year, and the egg clutches can vary from 8 to 21 eggs. The egg are incubated for 35 days.

Muscovy when crossed with other breeds, produce sterile offspring. For instance, if you cross a Muscovy male with a Pekin female you will hatch mules; if you cross a Pekin male with a Muscovy female the progeny are called hinnies. Whereas a Pekin takes 28 days to hatch and a Muscovy takes 35 days, a mule or hinny takes 32 days to hatch.

Approximately 60% of mule ducks are males. Some of their characteristics are like the Muscovy as they are large, quiet, slow moving and have long claws but are also like Pekin as they swim well, the males and females are much the same size and they do not fly. Hinnies are not grown commercially. Males hinnies are much larger than female hinnies, like the Muscovy, yet the females look Pekin but fly quite well.

Mules and hinnies cannot reproduce. Both males are sterile and only the hinny females lay eggs (though they cannot hatch). If you have Muscovy and Pekin together, the chances are poor that they will cross but if they do, a hinny will probably be the result as Pekin males can catch Muscovy females easier than Muscovy males can catch Pekin females.

By the age of about three months, the males are nearly twice as large as the females. I don't know if this is always the case. But, I've found that in younger Muscovies, the feet of the males are often larger. It is quiet, a good forager and is naturally broody. Muscovy are good mothers and hatch and brood their ducklings efficiently.

Muscovy are my personal favorite. We had a hen that was sitting on a clutch of eggs. During the day from time to time she would leave the nest for food and or water. Before leaving she would cover her eggs. As she would start to leave one of our barn cats would come and lay on the eggs. If she was gone for awhile, that cat would leave the nest as a second cat would arrive to take over. When the hen returned, whichever cat was tending the nest would vacate for her. The cats never did bother the ducklings or the turkey chicks, as we sometimes use Muscovy hens to hatch turkeys eggs along with duck eggs.

Later in the year, this same Muscovy hen was attacked by a chicken. Causing a lost of sight in one eye. That winter her feet froze, and she lost both feet at the ankles. She became a pet carrier house pet for awhile. Early in the summer we put her back outside. By then both her feet scabbed over and healed. It took her awhile to figure out how to walk. She decided to walked backwards. She now has recovered, and is not picked on by any of the ducks, geese or chickens. She doesn't lay eggs anymore however.

She does hit the pond with all her buddies. And she is flying again. Jumping into the air with a wing flap lift. To land, she hovers just off the ground then lightly sets down. It was nice to watch her fly again. Prior to the attack, she would tour (flying) the neighborhood. Upon returning from her tour. If you were outside she would find you and fly just inches above your head before landing. All this never really handicapped her. What it did do is make her special. Not to mention the center of everyone's attention.

When raising Muscovy ducklings, keep in mind that they are very good climbers. Make sure that they will not burn themselves in the heat source should they climb the sides. Or, escape over the top if using an open brooder.

 

Duckling Incubation, Hatching, & Brooding

General Information          Raising Ducks and Geese

 


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