Adding Muscovy Ducks to the Homestead

Nothing worse than opening the mailbox and being greeted by a bunch of bills.

Nothing better than opening the garage’s brooder and being greeted by a bunch of bills.

Bills1

That’s right.  We are now are the proud caretakers of six baby ducklings.

Muscovy Ducklings.

Gentlemanly Muscovy Ducklings.

Group

I’d been considering adding ducks to the Homestead for some time, so when our good friends at Shady Coop Farm mentioned they had a broody ducky mama, I quickly called “Dibs” while making a mental note to ask for spousal permission later.

Here are a few reasons why I sought out Muscovy (Cairina moschata) for our specific situation and goals.  I will write a follow-up post all about where these guys will call home and how I’m integrating them into my overall Permaculture design… and you’ll see then why some of these are very important to me.

  • Muscovies generally require less water (read: pond depth and surface area) to be happy and healthy when compared to other breeds.  They do very well with just some large water tubs.  At minimum, they need the ability to fully submerge their head to clear food particles out of their nostrils and eyes.
  • Muscovies generally are egg hatching machines.  They are very instinctive mothers and will set  basically any clutch of eggs you put in front of them – no matter if it’s chicken, guinea, quail, whatever.  They live to hatch.
  • Muscovies are an excellent and delicious source for healthy meat.  Since they are such great mamas, and we already have a decently large size chicken laying flock, I don’t care that Muscovy are not the most prolific of egg layers.  They will grow up living happily before graduating respectfully to our freezer as a sustainable protein source for our family and extended community.
  • Muscovies are known as the “quackless” duck as their vocals are usually more like a soft goose hiss, rather than the loud “quack” my two year old has perfected after much practice.  Since we don’t have neighbors right on top of us, this isn’t a huge deal, but I mention it because the primary duck yard will be somewhat close to our house.
  • They’re excellent foragers.  This is really where they shine once you read (later) what their Homestead chores will consist of.

Besides all that, can you really NOT have a few of these little guys around your place each year?

Duckling

Yeah, me neither.

So one evening after the kids went to bed and Joanna was tucked in after a long day of chasing and/or nursing said kiddos… I was off to Shady Coop.

Ducks always seem to look smiley and amused, but don’t let this pic fool you… Mama was not happy about our mission.

Mom

 SCFPickup

We safely snuggled all six in for my trip home.  Then we humans sat around into the night swapping tips and stories.

You want to hear one more thing about how great Nancy and Paul are?  They refused to take any money for the little guys.  After much cajoling, I did get out of them that Rain Barrels are on their To-Do list, so I showed up with a bag full of all the parts they’d need to make one from scratch, and made sure they accepted it.

Wonderfully kind people.

Anyway, I returned home…  put the Muscovies in their temporary brooder… flicked on the heat lamp…  and headed to bed.

Waterer

Closeup

The next morning the Wife awoke to meet her new fuzzy friends.

JoannaChristmas

The Boy was (is) overjoyed.

Parker

And I guess that “Asking Permission” thing worked out OK, as I haven’t had to sleep in the garage with them yet. Joanna even picked out a favorite, which she nerdily named “One of Six”.

I have very specific instructions she emailed me one morning.

Favorite

Message received.

We can’t wait to watch the little guys grow up and get to work.

–Mike

Question of the Day: Do you keep ducks?  Have them in your plan?  Have any tips?

Posted in Ducks Tagged with: , , ,
10 comments on “Adding Muscovy Ducks to the Homestead
  1. I still say you should eat duck before you raise them for dinner . . .
    Joanna @ Midwestern Bite recently posted…Random Picture of the Day – Gramps DeskMy Profile

  2. This is a wonderfully fun post. I absolutely love the last picture and caption. We have certain chickens at our place that I feel the same way about.

    I hope you are all doing well!!
    Simplicity for Julia recently posted…A Benefit of Chemical Free GardeningMy Profile

  3. We have muscovy, by the time they’re a few months old you can easily tell males from females. We currently have 15 ducklings, possibly another batch in a week too. I love them, they are the most hands off animals we own.

    The males get very big and fight each other so I advise keeping one for breeding and eating the others. A trio can provide 20+ ducklings a year for the freezer
    Alecia @ Chicken Scratch NY recently posted…Last Minute Garden CropsMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Is harvesting Muscovy as time-consuming as I’ve heard? Do you find them to be that much more difficult than plucking a chicken? Just curious about your experience as I’ve never processed a duck before.

      Our six little guys are now eight weeks old and I’m 99% sure one is a drake and 99% sure one is a hen. I waffle back and forth on the other four as they all seem pretty close in size. Hopefully they’re not all dudes.

      • They have a lot more feathers than a chicken, if you catch them during a molt it’s nearly impossible to get all the pins out. I think that’s why people used to dip them in wax and pull the feathers out.

        We used to process them ourselves but we found a local Mennonite family that does it for pretty cheap. It’s a good skill to have but for us with a baby to chase 99% of the time it’s a better use of our “grandma time” to spend it in the garden or barn.
        Alecia @ Chicken Scratch NY recently posted…DIY Raspberry Leaf TeaMy Profile

  4. Dillon says:

    We have 10 Muscovy. They will always have a place in our homestead! We were given 2 mamas and 11 babies this summer (we lost 1 to our dog and 1 to an owl) and now they are full grown. We’re keeping the mamas (because we named them), 2 females and 1 male and processing the other 5. We’re hoping to trade our male for another to bring new genes into the mix. I love when they follow me around the yard, tails wagging. 🙂

  5. Judi says:

    Just responded to your cat post. Hoping you kept some of your ducks for pets/breeding because these are some of the best pest control animals around. They will eat mice, snakes, frogs, pretty well anything that moves in front of them. Some like mice we want them to eat, I was a bit disappointed when one gobbled up a pretty leopard frog this summer, how dare she!

  6. Seb says:

    We’ll be adding ducks to the mix sometime this summer.

    As for plucking – I built a Whizz Bang plucker (http://whizbangplucker.blogspot.co.uk/) a year or two ago and it works great for chickens (even the huge Buff Orpingtons that we have).

  7. Candie Heiser says:

    Hey! So we are coming to your talk tomorrow and actually know Nancy! We are looking for some ducks and she does not have any right now are yours laying yet? We will try and say hi tomorrow. Thanks!

    • Mike says:

      Hey! Great to “meet” you. Our muscovy girls are laying like crazy. After a long story, we’re down to two. Part of that story included giving our extra drake to a friend, and then our drake getting hit by a car. We’re actually drake-sitting Nanncy and Paul’s dude for a few weeks to fertilize our eggs and see if anyone wants to set a clutch.

      Sorry, but no fuzzy babies around at the moment. If you want to try incubating, I could probably hook you up with fertile eggs.

      See you tomorrow.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Adding Muscovy Ducks to the Homestead"
  1. […] of a large(ish) pond to bring in a lot more diversity to this part of the property.  Right now the Muscovy ducks spend most of their time in a paddock in another zone, for reasons I’ll explain later, but […]

  2. […] My husband is currently awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse, or something of that nature, so I hear a lot about planning for the end of civilization as we know it. Maybe that’s why he goes along with my never ending desire to plant more fruit trees, grow a bigger garden and raise all the livestock! Or maybe he just loves me and wants me to he happy. Either way, we’ve got a lot going on between the baby, the house pets, the alpacas, the chickens and the rest of the flock so we try to keep simple routines. The easiest keepers we have are the Muscovy ducks, hands down. I’m not the only one who thinks that way either, when I put together my post about Favorite Chicken Breeds Mike from Gentleman Homesteader shared that Muscovy are his his favorties too, you can read why on his post about Adding Muscovy Ducks to the Homestead.  […]

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We are located in the Dayton, OH area. Our goal for this space is an informative companion to our primary passions - the Workshops we facilitate on various topics and the Private Consultation given to clients as Homestead and Regenerative Agriculture Design Consultants.

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