The Muscovy duck is one of the few animals we have here that will not be found on the Livestock Conservancy web site. This is not because the Muscovy is not a heritage bird, but because - while many other species have struggled with changing times and industrial breeding - the Muscovy has thrived. These domesticated offspring of the wild Muscovy are, in fact, considered a nuisance bird in Florida due to their ability to adapt when released into the wild.
Muscovy are great foragers, and in our little duck pond they have done a beautiful job of cleaning out weeds, leeches and assorted other nastiness it originally contained! Unfortunately, they also seemed to have cleaned out most of the frogs, so next year they will be rotated into the new pasture with the goats in order to give the frogs a change to repopulate. They - together with the geese - have done a wonderful job with keeping the grass trimmed, which means less mowing for The Husband!
Their size also makes them able to stand up to the geese, even on the grumpiest of goose days. Their own nature is quite easy going. While descriptions often label them "skittish," ours were handled from an early age and will allow themselves to be picked up easily. Though, to be fair, if held too long they have been known to poo on me!
Muscovy are not the most prolific layers, but their size makes them an excellent bird for eating - or so I have heard. We haven't personally tried it yet! They are good parents and will often co-parent the young. I have even had a pair take turns sitting on the same eggs! They do like to hide their eggs though, so be on the lookout if you have one who doesn't seem to lay at all.
The most important thing to remember about housing Muscovy is that, unlike many domestic ducks, they can and will fly. In fact, they often prefer to sleep on the water, or on the top of the coop, rather than in it. They have an extra claw which allows them to perch in trees, on roosts or on the top of sturdy fencing. This can be a mixed blessing, since it gives them an extra layer of defense again predators, but also makes them difficult to contain.
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