5 Reasons Muscovy Ducks May Not be Right for You

Muscovy ducks are often a top choice for many first-time duck owners as they are a well-known breed. They were among the first ducks that we kept here on our homestead. It is true there are some benefits to having muscovies on the farm (see 10 Real Benefits of Keeping Muscovy Ducks), but I wouldn’t keep these ducks again for meat or eggs. In fact, some would argue that they are not ducks at all! Their behaviour, egg incubation time, and feeding patterns are closer to most geese.

5 Reasons Muscovy Ducks May Not be Right for You. Why we no longer keep muscovies on the homestead. Pros and cons.

Some Muscovy owners might not know the true numbers of raising these birds, or how to utilize them to the fullest advantage. Always look for the numbers and take everyone’s anecdotal experiences with a grain of salt. The internet is a wonderful resource. It is easy to get attached to a particular bird or breed of animal in the homesteading world because we all love our animals. So what is the good, the bad, and the ugly? Let’s take a look at the cons of keeping Muscovies.

Cons of keeping Muscovy ducks

5 Reasons Muscovy Ducks May Not Be Right for You.

1. They are not good for egg production

Compared to other laying duck breeds, Muscovies lay so few eggs they’re not even worth mentioning as a laying option. They lay a dismally low 100-180 eggs per year under ideal laying conditions (which includes proper lighting, facilities, routine, and happy ducks). Khaki campbell, buff, white layers, and many other layer breeds will lay well over 250 eggs each year. The only good thing about Muscovies as layers is that their eggs are larger than the average duck eggspossibly because the Muscovy itself can be quite a bit larger than the size of the average laying duck. Regardless, when you take into consideration how much feed it takes to get each egg it is impossible to call these birds good layers.

2. Muscovies are not effective as meat birds

Muscovies grow really, really slowly when compared to the average meat or even laying duck, although some prefer the distinct quality of their meat. Most meat ducks, such as Peking, will grow to a harvestable weight in 7 Weeks. Harvestable weight for a Muscovy is usually around 20 weeks. And that’s not taking into consideration the voracious appetites of Muscovies, which brings me to the next point.

3. Muscovy ducks have ridiculous appetites

To put it simply, Muscovies eat too much. They seem to eat constantly and vastly out eat any other duck breed I have owned. This makes the few eggs they lay even more food intensive. It also means having to spend much more on food while growing ducklings to butcher weight.

One of a Muscovies favourite meals is actually mosquitoes and their larva. Full grown Muscovies have also been known to eat mice they catch. Now eating mice and mosquitoes sounds like the best thing ever, which I agree with! (See 10 Real Benefits of Muscovy Ducks for more on this.) But they still eat far too much grain feed to qualify them as practical for meat or eggs. Plus, they are much more destructive on the garden if they get out.

4. Muscovies can fly

Muscovies are very close to being a wild bird breed. As a result, they have many natural instincts and survivable traits, including being able to fly. Most domestic ducks have been bred to be unable to sustain flight for any period of time, but many Muscovies still have the ability to do so. I have read stories of Muscovies flying off during migration season when they see other ducks flying away for the winter (I mean, who can blame them?). There are now feral populations in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. Flying may also cause a problem when trying to pen your poultry in fenced areas. You can prevent their ability to fly effectively by trimming one wing (this discourages them from flying by throwing off the balance of feathers).

5. These birds have an extra claw

Muscovy ducks have one wicked claw on the hind of their foot, and it can get super sharp. Muscovies are actually perching birds and prefer to roost on a stick or log as they sleep at night. This extra big claw helps them grip a roosting site that most ducks would normally not consider. Their claws on the tips of their fore feet are also larger than the average duck. When an unsuspecting homesteader is attempting to pick up a Muscovy for transport, wing maintenance, or any other reason, they are likely to sustain some minor damage from scratching. This makes duck interactions less fun. Dealing with Muscovies is definitely not a task I would send my kids to do.  

Also, Muscovies are HUGE

An adult male Muscovy can Weight 7kg (15lbs)! The females are half that size fully grown. The average size of my white layers are 2-2.7kg (4-6lbs).  The popular laying breed khaki campbell weighs 0.9-2.2kg (3-5lbs). Having such a large breed makes keeping a drake on the farm a real commitment. They take more space, are tougher on the ladies, and eat a lot more food. More information here.

Why would you keep Muscovies? Read more at 10 Real Benefits of Keeping Muscovies.

Pin: Muscovy Ducks are popular, but there are a number of reasons that they are not an great option for many homesteads.Thanks to GP Photography for letting me use photos of her Muscovy ducks as we no longer have our own.

41 thoughts on “5 Reasons Muscovy Ducks May Not be Right for You

  1. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I rescued five Muscovy ducklings a couple weeks ago because their mom and two siblings were run over by a car in our neighborhood. I rescued them at five weeks old and of course I’ve become attached and have considered keeping them. My family and friends have advised me against it because they feel it’s cruel to keep them enclosed. I plan to keep them in a 200 sf enclosure with a pool and fans because I live in Florida. I just worry since they have been hand fed lately that they won’t be able to survive in the wild. Any suggestions or advise would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I have a male and female muscovy duck. I actually raised the first six months of their lives separately (one year) on my bed with a shower curtain under them…lots of poop! But, they are my babies and they now stay outside for the last year. I have a duck condo with a pool for the male and he is let out everyday except at night. The female stays out because she gets attacked by him otherwise and keeps her distance in a special hideaway! They eat chicken scratch and fresh scrambled eggs everyday! They are very spoiled and they are very lucky ducks!

  3. This is so not true well it kind of is but i think they are to amazing animals to be used as meat. They make great pets my drake is amazing also i pick him up all the time he never claws or anything so if you have a drake and create a bond with them then they wont claw. Muscovy ducks in my opinion are the best the are so friendly and nice.

    1. Thanks for your input! We’ve actually just obtained two new muscovies, so perhaps we will take your advice on the drake. Be sure to check out our post on the “10 Real Benefits of Keeping Muscovy Ducks.” There are certainly a great number of positives to the breed as well.

    1. Yes consistent/avid egg laying is a healthy and inherent trait. Muscovy breeds specifically need to be on an oyster shell supplement to ensure proper and consistent egg production. This is also important to note for the health of the hen so she doesn’t become egg-bound. Stress can affect egg laying significantly! Muscovy species are Peruvian born to the Amazon, they interact with all migratory avian species bio-field (intrinsic migratory telepathy) with that being said they are biologically/physiologically dialed to their migrating counterparts. As an ethologist, I highly recommend taking a course in quantum biology before adopting it helps to understand their behaviors and needs based off their daily experiences. ✨?✨

  4. our brooding female was killed in an accident she had a good nest of 18 eggs will the other femsle or males brood her eggs or should we incubate?

    1. If there are other breeding age females around that are broody they may have laid some of their eggs in the same nest. If so one might incubate those eggs. If no other female has assumed those eggs and is sitting on them by now I would incubate artificially ASAP.

  5. what the hell man, my DUCKS died last month { from a fox attack} and they were the best ducks in the world. ducklings are smart and cute cute a my two duckies where amazing, i hope you can some day see the magic of these amazing animals to. i hope in that time will become a vegetarian a stop eating ducks.

    1. We love keeping ducks, generally. I’m sorry to hear about yours. There are, of course, lots of advantages to keeping muscovies, as we point out in our sister post.

      1. Hi , I just adopted 4 muscovy’s. They are so cute ! 1 male and 3 females. 3 can fly but one cannot appears her wings were clipped. I live on a big pond with an island. I plan on keeping them in my barn till late spring…then letting them out onto pond for warmer months. I have many wild ducks here also that come for food. Do you think I will have trouble getting them back in come fall?

  6. Our neighbor has two huge domesticated ducks that keep coming over to our yard. They are very aggressive and we’ve asked her at least six times to confine them but she hasn’t. How do we get these dang ducks out of our yard? They attack all the wild birds that visit.

  7. Hi, I have a drake about a year old but I didnt see him mating with my ducks. My ducks are about 11 months old and ready for breeding. Can you please give me any advice how to make my drake active in mating.
    Thanks

  8. I had over 100 ducks : Khaki Campbell, Swedish blue and saxony and a few mixed harlequin/mallards . Do you know how loud that is? You cannot her the person standing next to you. My duck egg people have slowly disappeared so I’m down to 10 loud ducks 2 to 4 of some breads, and 20 Muscovy. Going to add Peking next spring. So nice to hear yourself think. Oh and we have a lake on 5 acres. Only problem is they sometimes bug the neighbors. They lay bigger eggs the the khaki or Swedish. To me that’s a better deal then 100s more a year. They do not lay august – October gets to hot in August 85 degrees or hotter

  9. We found a muscovy male duck when he was just a little tiny baby in a parking lot. We have had him for over a year. Being raised around people he wraps his neck around us to hugs us, loves to be petted. Well we bought a Pekin female from California. Shes been with us for about 8 months. But before we got her every once in a while he would fly off and even though he is wild would freak out but a couple of hours later he would be back. Well last week is the first time he took off in a long time. He came right back, 2 days later again but last night he actually flew off at night time before he could be put in his coop. He usually never flies off that late and he is still not back but in the coop this morning we found that the pekin female laid 3 eggs. So im wondering… Is it common for male muscovy ducks to fly off when the female lays eggs? If so do they come back? And because they are different birds will the eggs be alive or none make it? Im just curious about the male muscovys behavior once the female lays eggs. I hope he comes back but i never see a muscovy female and her babies with a male afterwards. Is this normal?

    1. The eggs may be viable, but I wouldn’t trust your duck to hatch them out. Put them in an incubator.
      If they were fertilized by your muscovy (which they likely were) the ducklings will be a hybrid called a moullard or “mule duck.” In France, they deliberately produce these cross-breeds for their superior flavor. As the name “mule duck” suggests, though, you can’t breed them. They’re sterile. The only way to get them is by crossing a duck with a muscovy.

      1. I don’t really understand what you mean with the necessity to cross-breed. We’ve been breeding muscovies for years and they are always fertile. We never cross-breed. Muscovies aren’t real ducks anyway, they have goose-like DNA too.

      2. Hello! I just read your answer to a question on this blog. I have a Muscovy duck who laid about 23 eggs behind my front door hedge. She laid eggs since Feb 21 and has been sitting on them for it seems the entire month of March. It is now April and no ducklings. Do you think they are not good?

        1. Hi. Thanks for the comment! I’m not sure what you mean by “good.” My guess is that they will not hatch if they haven’t yet. Sometimes you have to take eggs from a broody duck if you want her to continue laying. If by “good” you mean can you eat them, the answer is definitely no, haha. If she is starting to abandon them, or if you are ready for her to give up, you can take an egg and break it (outdoors). If she has been around a drake I would think it’s likely that they are partially developed.

        2. First time my Muscovy hen’s ( I say hen’s b c all 3 sat in same nest and would take turns getting off and eating & bathing!
          I didn’t think the eggs would ever hatch, but they finally did but took about 6-7 weeks! I read that was normal for Muscovy’s! Hope this helps ! Hang in there !

  10. We have been raising muscovites for 8 years now! We absolutely live them! We have ten acres of of pastureland and a year round round creek. We raise mini nubian dairy goats, chickens, and our “muskies”… they are the sweetest birds ever! They are super quiet as they don’t quack at all, but instead make purring and hissing noises and pant and wag their tails like a puppy. They are trainable. We give a bucket of wild game feed and toss it out and long with kelp granules for all 29+ ducks and they free range forage all over the fields. So we feed them very little. We also throw out extra pumpkins and zucchini and squashes chopped up for ducks and our goats. I have a large family of 12 children, plus 6 grandchildren so far and they are out with the goats and ducks everyday.they handle them and feed them yummy weeds, etc and have we have never had injuries. The only exception to this is when my adult sons come over and trim their flight feathers for me. They have learned to wear long sleeves over their shirts to protect arms but the ducks are not aggressive at all! We started with two ducks. A Male and a female and they have made a huge family all on their own without any intervention from us. They get broody and have strong maternal instincts. Several mamas now hatch and raise their own ducklings and train them up, it’s such a blessing watching them waddle about teaching their babies and the babies follow mama all in a row everywhere she goes. My muscovites also raised our huge African grey and Toulouse cross geese from Eggs and I believe raising them has made them much friendlier. They have also adopted chicken eggs and hatch them too, but you gotta remove babies from them so they don’t accidentally drown them, thinking they are their same as their water fowl babies.
    They get big and heavy , so they are a great meat bird, but they don’t get crazy big crazy fast causing personal injury disease as in hyper-bred meat chickens.

    I let them in my vegetable gardens area at the end of the season and they eat the bugs and a little of the vegetation. But mostly weeds on outer edges of garden itself. I would never let them into my garden while I am actively growing my veggies, but before you plant and after you are toward end of harvest is a great time! Far less destructive than chickens!

    Muscovites grow the weird red crparuncles on their head and face and some can get quite odd looking, but they are so special, I don’t mind a bit!

    Mamas on eggs, I like to give nutritional yeast, and kelp granules as a supplement and they just love it!!

  11. muscovies are the best when left out to fend for themselves, the meat is just sweet no fat all red and lots of flavour.they are the best.

  12. I prefer scovies over mallard derivatives. I let mine free range w/o shelter. They’re great foragers..but they have to be raised to it. If you let them free range w/ mama, they’ll experiment. They’re great flycatchers at a young age too. You DO need to cage up anything you don’t want them to eat. They also help to keep the rodent population down, and clean the fence lines.

    1. We are thinking about getting a few muskovys, have a huge pond and five and a half acres. We live right across the river from St Louis and go away for a month in January. We have a duck house and a run. Will they be okay while we are away for a month as my husband now isn’t sure we should get them because of our being away?

  13. I recently gave away all my other ducks, (kakhi campbell and blue swedish) in favor of the Muscovy. I can see your points if you have to keep them confined on food consumption. Mine free range and have a pond so they are not any worse then my chickens. I like they can fly, helps keep them safe and I do not lock them up at night. They sleep on the pond or on the trees over the pond. They are smart and can learn things when done in a repetition. I like they are a big duck, we processed our males at 14weeks and that was a bit soon, but they were around 5-6lbs. I will grow them out longer next year. They know how to have lots of ducklings. If your not careful you can easily end up with 40+ babies in one summer with just a couple hens.

    1. This sounds like the ideal situation if you’re keeping muscovies. We don’t have meet ducks at the moment, and I sure miss their dark poultry meat in our freezer!

    2. All true! In a case like yours I can see how muscovies are a great choice. Have you seen our post on 10 real benefits of keeping muscovy ducks? We don’t keep them anymore, but we don’t have as good an option to free range them. We’re also not keeping for meat at the moment, and I sure do miss the rich meat they give!

    3. I agree w/ you. We still have one pekin left..but I’ll not get anymore mallard derivatives. They’re noisy, and seem stupid compared to muscovies. A mature muscovy male can fend off small predators like possums and raccoons. Mallard derivatives can’t. We use them primarily for meat, and use chickens for eggs. If you raise them strictly on commercial feed..it was costing me about $6/bird to raise them to eating size..but letting them free range makes them considerably cheaper. Mulberry leaves are a good high protein supplemental food..and they love the leaves and fruits. We use standard sized mulberry trees, and pollard them to keep them manageable.

    4. Recently adopted 4 Muscovies. We want to free range them on our pond once it’s spring and not frozen anymore. They are currently in my barn. Question is how do I get them back in and off pond when it’s time to go in for winter ?

      1. Train your birds to regularly recognize that you are feeding them when you have a bucket in your hand. Dump corn out at shore of pond regularly and they will come to you when they see you with the bucket. Over time draw them close to you with bucket and let them follow you as you lead them toward barn. Do this regularly in the summer. Finally when the time is right you can lead them right into the barn with bucket. I use this bucket training for cattle, pigs, chickens, goats to gather animals that go astray or to secure them indoors at night or in bad weather.

    1. You just have to cook them properly. Cooked w/ Sous Vide at 135 degrees then seared, makes the breast halves every bit as tender and tasty as filet mignon w/o the fat and “ducky” flavor, and considerably cheaper than beef if you raise them yourself.

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