We started out with about a half dozen Muscovy ducklings three years ago and since then our numbers have fluctuated from between ten to thirty. We reached thirty when one of our hens hatched out fourteen eggs last year. They weren’t all hers but several nests were disturbed when we renovated the barn in the Spring. A mother will often leave the nest when it is disturbed so we combined eggs into one and she sat on all of them and eventually hatched them out. A good number of ducks for us is around ten so we’ve often had to find homes for the extras but so far we haven’t had any problems with that.
One thing about the Muscovies is that they don’t quack. The males tend to hiss especially as a show of dominance, and the females make more of a soft ‘cooing’ or ‘chirping’ noise. The other interesting thing is the variation in colours and the change in colours over the lifetime of each duck. Their adult colours range from white to patterns of grey, brown, and black with tinges of green and purple. They tend to start out solid yellow but some will have brown in their first set of feathers.
One distintive feature of the Muscovy is their bright red crest, or ‘carnunculated’ headgear, the gnarly feature above their beaks and around the eyes. The males tend to have more of it and at first glance not the prettiest feature but you see beyond it soon enough.
Muscovies tend to be docile and the females are usually good caregivers. Their eggs production is good and they are considered a dual purpose egg layer and meat producing choice for the farm. The eggs are primarily laid in the Spring and we offer one or two among a dozen of our laying hens. They tend to stand out as they are larger than most chicken eggs and the yolks are rich and great for baking.
They generally don’t fly but the females have been known to take a short flight around the barn yard. The males are larger and can’t really get of the ground. They don’t require a pond but will enjoy taking a bath in a basin or kid’s swimming pool to clean themselves off.
One interesting thing about the Muscovies is that they tend to stay awake longer in the evening than the chickens. They all share the same barnyard and sleeping quarters but chickens are generally gone in and roosting by dusk. The ducks will usually be out and about another half hour later but will go in as night approaches full darkness. It has meant an occasional search for stragglers by flashlight but they really seem to enjoy those last few minutes before retiring for the evening.