Muscovy Ducks can be found all over the world as domesticated waterfowl, and we’re ready to talk about what these birds are really good at. There are many great reasons for keeping Muscovy Ducks on the homestead, or as small backyard pets—although these reasons do not include maximizing on meat and egg production.
If you missed it check out my previous post on the shortcomings of Muscovy ducks where I talk about this more. But let’s now discuss the benefits of having these birds around and how to maximize on their potential.
Pros of Keeping Muscovy Ducks
1. They are Quack-less
Muscovy ducks have no voice. Compared to other ducks and geese, these birds are extremely quiet. In fact they don’t quack at all, they mostly hisssss. Yes, like a snake. This can be highly advantageous if you have neighbours who aren’t fond of loud quacking, don’t like the quacking yourself, or are trying to find a bird that can exist undetected in your backyard…
2. Muscovy ducks are great mothers
Muscovies are expert mothers. You can almost guarantee that the female you have will be broody when the right time comes. These ducks can clutch out upwards of 30 eggs at a time 2-3 times a year, with a high success rate. Their increased size helps them to be able to keep so many warm at a time. Muscovy mothers will also gladly parent other poultry birds if hatched out in the same clutch. These birds are also tougher than the average domesticated bird, which gives them confidence to guard such large clutches. Muscovies have been known to scare off larger mammals such as raccoons, skunks, and, in rare occasions, a coyote. Muscovies don’t disappoint when it comes to motherhood. Maybe time to put that cumbersome incubator away?
3. These ducks are super hardy
Muscovies are like the ironmen of domestic ducks. They are kept successfully from high up in Alaska to Central America, which is where they are native to. I will again contribute some of this to their larger size, but I also think their higher appetite contributes to being able to produce more heat when needed. In general, most domestic ducks are pretty good with colder winter spells. However, they may slow down their laying rate at temperatures below -7c. Being from a warmer tropical climates, these birds can handle upwards of high 30s for daytime temperatures as long as there is ample access to drinking water. This makes them extremely useful for cleaning up finished greenhouses and hoop gardens.
4. Muscovy ducks are great foragers
Sometimes it feels like Muscovy ducks will eat anything. They have an insatiable appetite for slugs, bugs and plants. I have even seen them hunt flying mosquitoes, sticking their heads down in the hunting position as they flick their neck back and forth at anything flying by. They are great for cleaning up creeks, keeping grass down, and even reducing the mice population…
5. Muscovies eat mice
Yes this deserves it own point. Muscovies eat mice. They have instincts to chase down small critters because their native diet consists of the usual duck food as well as small rodents, lizards, snakes and other small terrestrial critters. This makes them great hunters. Don’t like cats on the farm? Get some of these birds to clean up your mice problem. You can see a Muscovy eating a mouse here.
6. They make excellent guard birds
A full grown male Muscovy can weigh up to 15kg and with a large back claw (used for perching), which can be used as an effective eyeball clawer. This bird is a force to be reckoned with. A mother Muscovy might make some animals think twice about attacking, but a full grown angry male Muscovy coming in at twice the size is usually not worth the hassle when it comes to an easy meal for wildlife. Having at least one large male as a guard duck can help with flock safety.
7. Muscovies have lean meat
These birds have very little fat when it comes to meat… which makes me wonder how they do so well in the winter… maybe this is why they eat so much. This bird generally isn’t as practical for meat if you look at feed per weight but if you are looking for a super lean meat these birds are the birds for you. The breast meat on these can be up to 99% lean meat. The skin also has half as much fat as other typical farmyard ducks. Check out here for more detailed information on Muscovy meat.
8. Muscovy ducks can utilize vertical space in a coop, instead of ground space
Muscovy ducks prefer to perch! They have a back claw that is used to grip onto branches, which can sometimes get in the way when trying to pick up one of these birds. But! This means you can use vertical space and that old chicken coop that’s been sitting out in the field can get re-purposed. Everyone seems to be looking at ways to utilize vertical space and Muscovies know how it’s done.
9. Can be crossed with domestic ducks to make sterile offspring
Muscovies can be crossed with most domestic ducks, which are usually mallard derived, to produce mostly sterile offspring. This is usually done to create meat birds with better growth rates and leaner meat than normal domesticated ducks. There is also the advantage of not having to worry about cross breeding or inbreeding when kept with parent ducks.
10. So many different colour varieties
If you’re a homesteader who likes to play with different breeds for aesthetics, keeping muscovy ducks is a lot of fun. They come in a number of different colours including solid white, black, chocolate, blue, and the pied variety, which means mixed with white. There’s lots to choose from and to play with. Take a look here at some of the varieties of muscovies at Ugly Duck Farm.
If any or many of these reasons resonate with you maybe Muscovies are the duck for you. Such unique birds deserve a unique place on a farm and can be quite practical. If you are looking at a bird for meat or eggs primarily, I would recommend you look into other breeds. Check out my other post, 5 Reasons Muscovy Ducks May Not be Right for You, to see the down sides of these birds. Regardless, it pays to do your research before buying livestock.
Thanks to GP Photography for letting me use photos of her Muscovy ducks as we no longer have our own.