I love to tell about the first time I met a Muscovy. I had an appointment with a poultry keeper to discuss his feed needs. I pulled into his driveway and walked to his door and rang the door bell. No one answered and decided to wait a few minutes. Suddenly I heard a loud hissing sound. I looked around but couldn’t see anything and the sound kept getting louder. I looked down the steps below me and there was the biggest, ugliest white and red duck I had ever seen bobbing his head and hissing!
I decided it was time to go home so I started walking towards the car. There he was right behind me – hiss, hiss, hiss. I stopped he stopped. I took a step, he took a step. I tried to shoo him away and he just bobbed his head and kept making that hissing noise. When I finally got to the car I watched him turn around and bob his way back. He looked more like an old fashioned push-pull toy than a real duck. I decided that Muscovy ducks were too ugly and freaky for me.
Fast forward ahead to two years later. One day while visiting a local farm and I saw beautifully colored exotic ducks. There were colors like blue, chocolate, cappuccino, silver, pewter and iridescent emerald green. These birds moved smoothly and majestically. These were very different than the push-pull toy duck I had seen a few years earlier. I fell in love. I told Steve I wanted to buy them. He asked how many I wanted to buy and I said all of them. He just shook his head and we rounded up and caught about 53 Muscovies.
I love our Muscovy ducks. Even after two years of having them I like them more and more each day. I like their calm, quiet demeanor and the way the females coo like a dove. I like how committed they are to everything they do from catching bugs to raising up their ducklings. I never get tired of admiring the array of unusual colors that our flock produces each year.
Muscovy ducks found on farms today trace their ancestry back to the wild Muscovy, a perching duck indigenous to the tropical regions of Mexico, Central and South America. All other domestic ducks are descended from wild mallards.
Domestic Muscovy drakes are large, well-muscled ducks that can reach 16 pounds. Hens are substantially smaller and can weigh up to 8 pounds. Extremely self-reliant, these birds forage to get their protein from ticks, flies, mosquitoes, slugs, snails, and even rodents or small snakes. The balance of their diet comes from tender grasses and weeds.
For folks accustomed to the noisy quacking of a flock of Pekins or Mallards, the soft calls of the Muscovy may come as a pleasant surprise. Drakes emit a soft hissing sound while the females normally make a soft cooing noise like a dove. When they’re frightened or angry they huff and puff like one of the three little pigs. Their almost silent nature is a trait you’ll come to appreciate if you have close neighbors who don’t like ducks as much as you do.
When considering whether to add Muscovies to your poultry menagerie, keep in mind that, like most waterfowl, they are messier than chickens. Ducks produce copious soft, watery droppings than sink quickly into the ground (which do a great job of fertilizing the grass or garden). They require water for cleaning their feathers and a cheap $10 kiddie pool provides the perfect water source.
Although Muscovies don’t produce as many eggs as most Mallard derivatives, they are capable of producing three or four nests a year with up to 20 ducklings per nest. They’re the best ducks for setting and they are first class mothers who patiently raise their ducklings into adulthood. They will sit and raise other species of poultry too.