The Muscovy Duck has proven to be one of the best small farm
poultry breeds. Not only do they provide eggs and a delicious
meat, they are the most entertaining critters to watch. We were
originally attracted to the breed because they are quiet. Not just a
quiet quack, but no quack at all! They will occasionally hiss when
upset with each other. At Trinity Ridge we value the beauty and
peace of our natural surroundings and these birds fit perfectly.
Our little farm is riddled with springs and ponds of which these
ducks love to splash in and preen themselves, not to mention
cleaning up waste grain, eating bugs and weeds in the garden, and
free ranging throughout the homestead.
Breeding, Eggs, and Ducklings!
Domesticated Muscovy's can breed up to three times each year. The hen lays a clutch
of 8-20 white eggs, usually in a tree hole or hollow (we have nest boxes), which are
incubated for 35 days. The sitting hen will leave the nest once a day for about an
hour to drink, eat and bathe. Once the eggs begin to hatch it may take 24 hours for all
the chicks to break through their shells.
Muscovy's can raise their own ducklings, however, because we live in a forested
area we prefer to raise them ourselves due to predator issues. The ducklings are
separated from the hen on the day they are born and kept in the horse barn under a
heat lamp. They have free access to food and water at all times. When they are about
6 weeks old and have grown in their flight feathers we reintroduce them to the flock.
They settle in very fast with the rest of the ducks.
The Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck which is native to Mexico, Central and South America. A small wild
population reaches into the US in the lower Rio Grande River basin in Texas. There also are feral breeding populations in North
America in and around public parks in nearly every state of the US and in the Canadian provinces; feral populations also exist in
Europe. Although the Muscovy is a tropical bird, it adapts to icy and snowy conditions down to 10°F and below without ill effects.
In the wild this non-migratory species normally inhabits forested swamps, lakes, streams and nearby grassland, and often roosts in
trees at night. The Muscovy Duck's diet consists of plant material obtained by grazing or dabbling in shallow water, with some
small vertebrates such and mice and rats, and insects.
The Muscovy Duck has been domesticated for centuries but is the only domestic duck that is not derived from mallard stock.
Muscovy breeds are popular because they have stronger-tasting meat - sometimes compared to roasted beef - than the usual
domestic ducks which are descendants of the Mallard. The meat is lean when compared to the fatty meat of mallard-derived ducks,
its leanness and tenderness being often compared to veal. Muscovy's are also much heavier than most other domestic ducks, which
makes it ideal for the dinner table. (Wikipedia)
Wild Muscovy's coloration is black and white, but domestication has produced many different colors. They come in most colors
and have a variable eye color with the lighter shades having blue eyes and the predominantly black having brown. A blue-eyed
black and white bird will throw a variety of colors from white to blues and lavenders. Their feet are equipped with strong sharp
claws for grabbing tree branches and roosting. Muscovy's are unique because of their bright red crest around their eyes and above
the beak. They do not swim as much as others as their oil glands are under developed compared to most ducks.
Our ducks share their barn with the chickens, quail, Guinea hogs, and Nigerian goat
bucks. They free range the property and are never locked up. They always have fresh
clean water and food available to them that they share with the chickens. We also
throw corn to them as a special treat when we visit the barn. They have nest boxes
lined with straw where they lay their eggs, but they prefer to roost with the chickens
up high at night.