Muscovy Ducks for homesteading

Muscovy are the only domestic ducks that are not derived from Mallard stock. Originating from the Caribbean Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras where the native culture values them for their meat, Muscovy aren’t really ducks, but rather large perching waterfowl (Cairina moschata).

Muscovy ducks are great on the farm to control insects the natural way. They are particularly helpful controlling flies, grasshoppers, ticks and mosquitos. If you put them in a pen with cows or calves they will eat most of the flies. In one experiment where two year old Muscovy ducks were put in cow pens, the fly population was reduced by 80 to 90 percent.

A close up of the musk duck, drake.

The males are large, weighing up to fifteen pounds, with the smaller females reaching about nine.  The Muscovy Duck can be crossed with mallards to create a hybrid known as Mulard, but to be honest, the Muscovy aren’t very keen on breeding with Mallard-types.  Additionally, the offspring is a mule duck because Muscovy are a different species of waterfowl.  This outcross, Mulard, are mostly raised for their meat and they grow fast like mallard-type ducks but much larger like the Muscovy.  Interestingly, Muscovy are cross-bred in Israel with Mallards to produce kosher ducks. The kashrut status of the Muscovy Duck has been a matter of rabbinic discussion for over 150 years.

Muscovy females are excellent flyers. As a matter of fact, given their preference, they like to roost in trees; their feet have strong sharp claws and are built to grasp, so that they can perch on branches. They do best in a chicken house as opposed to a ground nesting duck house.  They like to nest high, like chickens and enjoy “perches” or “roosts,” they will get on these at night. Some people consider them ugly because of the large red warty caruncles above the beak and around the eyes. However, they are very personable and interesting birds, and quite intelligent.



Also a little bit from mother earth news about ducks in general.

Raising Ducks and Geese: A Homesteader’s Guide to Waterfowl

Ducks and geese are low-maintenance birds that provide fresh eggs, homegrown meat, pest and weed control, and even poultry manure for your garden.

What’s not to like? Getting your waterfowl to stay put can be an issue, as some breeds like to fly around — but you can control them by carefully clipping the feathers of one wing. While ducks are typically gentle, geese can get aggressive, a trait rendering them well-suited for guarding property. If you worry that incessant quacking and honking might be irritating to nearby neighbors, choose Muscovies, which are also known as “quackless ducks.”

Which Type and How Many?

Domestic ducks come in two species: Muscovy (Cairina moschata) and mallard-derived breeds (Anas platyrhynchos). Mallard breeds are often kept in pairs, although maintaining fewer drakes (males) will reduce the feed bill and offer hens relief from high-libido males. If you don’t want ducklings, you can keep just hens; experience has shown that peace will reign in a yard housing only sweet-tempered female Muscovies. Muscovy ducks don’t pair up; the two sexes lead separate lives. Drakes of all breeds have an insatiable sex drive, but they won’t pester hens as much if living in groups of at least five ducks. An offspring from the mating of a Muscovy duck and a mallard breed is normally incapable of reproduction. Geese bond in pairs or trios, although a gander (male) of a lightweight breed may take on up to six females, and a heavy-breed gander can handle up to four.

Some smaller breeds of duck, such as the Welsh Harlequin, may lay as many as 300 eggs per year. An Embden goose will supply only 15 to 35 large eggs per year, but she may reach a hanging weight of 14 pounds in only six months.

As weeders, two ducks per 500 square feet of garden will do more good than harm, but two mature geese could do a lot of damage. Goslings, on the other hand, are great springtime weeders.

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