Muscovy ducks are a weird bird. They are the only domestic duck that is not from the mallard family, they are more closely related to geese than ducks. They are larger than a duck, yet not nearly as large as a goose. The males are almost twice the size as the females. Drakes can get up to 15 pounds.
They have strange red bumpy skin around their eyes and beak, which is more prominent on the males. They have extremely sharp claws on their feet which they can and will use as a defense. When I first saw pictures of them I thought they were ugly, but when I saw one in person, I thought they were quite beautiful. They come in a variety of colors.
Muscovy mother with day old ducklings. First Swim
My ducks are black and white though some of their offspring are completely white. (If you are interested in Muscovy genetics click here)
They are a quiet bird. They do not quack like a duck. The females make a chirpy-like quack and the drakes don’t say anything at all, but hiss… Sort of, it’s like a breathy quack. Like I said, weird bird.
They are said to taste like roast beef, I have no idea if that is true or not. I have also heard that they are 98% fat-free meat and make a great substitute for ground beef. Again this is what I have heard. Haven’t tried it yet since we have had ample predator loss and can’t afford to eat one yet, but when we get our numbers up, we are going to give it a try.
Some people say that they are called “Muscovy” because they eat mosquitoes, others say something completely different, but they do eat mosquitoes, and any other insects, or tadpoles or anything they can fit in their mouths really. They are impressive to watch catch flies, and very effective. They can eat three times the flies you can catch in a fly trap. In Africa, they use them in their crops to control the insect destruction to crops. They also eat weeds.
If you plan to incubate Muscovy eggs, don’t do like I did the first and throw them out after 28 days. Ducks sit on their eggs for 28 days, but the Muscovy is different. They sit on their eggs for 35 days. So yeah, I did that. I didn’t know, I learned, it will never happen again.
The best incubator is the mother. I don’t incubate eggs unless something happens to the mother because they just do such a great job. Their hatch rate is like 98%, whereas mine is 84%. They aren’t just good incubators though they are also exceptional mothers. They can be very protective, and they will use those claws to come at you, which is very scary when it’s coming at your face. I know this because one little duckling got stuck between the coop door and the fence and I was only trying to help him get out, but alas mommy didn’t care… she nearly took out my eye O_o
All-in-all they are a great addition to a small backyard farm. They don’t require a huge pond or anything particularly fancy. If you like to eat duck eggs, I don’t but if you do, they lay almost year round. They are quiet and friendly, as long as they are not protecting their young.