Muscovey Ducks – My Final Verdict

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I’ve done my share of learning about Muscovy ducks over the past two years, and have finally come to a point where I’m ready to make a qualified decision on them, at least as far as my personal circumstances are concerned.

 I originally wanted a low input, self reliant form of bird for eggs and meat. Muscovies fit that description perfectly. They free range my 1/4 acre, rarely beg for food, and are very prolific. I understand now why some communities are in such an uproar over them overpopulating an area. I’ve had 4 hatches, three of them each had about a dozen ducklings hatch out, and the forth would have as well, but something (I believe it was our dog) ate a bunch of the eggs.

Muscovy ducklings

So in about a year from the time I purchased 4 baby ducks, I’ve had four hatches, yielding 12, 13, 2, and 12 ducklings. That’s 39 birds produced in a year, and not counting the dozens of eggs we pulled for our own consumption. With less than 20 pounds of feed invested in them, I can’t argue that they are a low input bird.

 

But I don’t want to raise them anymore.

 

Why would I stop raising a bird that is prolific and requires very little input?

Harvesting ducks is a pain. Without a working plucking device, I opt to skin the birds instead. Plucking took me almost an hour, and skinning a bird take me 20 or more minutes. And while the meat tastes great, its simply not good enough to warrant the grief in dressing them out, when I can dress out a quail in a minute or two, and a rabbit in about 7 minutes.

I understand each animal that I’ve tried has its pros and cons. Muscovies are almost the perfect homestead animal – quiet, self reliant, prolific, and tasty. But the overwhelming con for me was the amount of time it takes for processing. When compared to other options I have, I’ll stick with the rabbits and quail.

Add in the fact that my gardens need to be fenced off to prevent the ducks from grazing on my veggies. Also, while my wife loves to watch them, the wandering birds have no sense of decorum, pooping wherever they feel the urge. My wife is not a country girl, and this offends her.

I’m also considering getting rid of the chickens for space, garden protection, and random poop pile reasons. I figure that if I streamline my rabbit and quail production, I can open up my garden beds, and regain some of my back yard. This will keep my wife happy, and one of my driving rules is “Happy Wife, Happy Life“.

Quail EggsKeeping my wife happy is far more important to my quality of life than fresh duck meat or chicken eggs. So I’ll make do with rabbits for meat and quail eggs for my breakfast fixins’.

We’ll see how that goes….

 

Peace,
db

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10 comments:

  1. To paraphrase and re-phrase a quote from Sepp Holzer, “you don’t have a duck problem you have a deficiency of leather back turtles”. baby ducks are excellent turtle feed.
    Totally get the happy wife bit though… wish I had a duck problem :)

    1. Its easy enough to start…get one of each gender. Feed them long enough to learn your place is “home”.

      Wait.

      And if you want to make the drive over, they are yours…TK said he’d take them, but I’m sure he’d give up a few, he’s getting to the point of a “leather back turtle deficiency” too…

      1. The Duck is very very good.

        I’ve got loads of Muscovies. In the same week I got DB’s ducks, my MIL gave me her ducks and geese she has an eagle problem, and would rather us see eat them than the eagle. And as far as “Poachers” go I won’t harm an Eagle.

  2. I’m not a fan of having poop all over the place either and that’s especially true of dog poop – the most offensive of all animal poop in my opinion.

    Did you have to clip your duck’s wings and do they need a source of water to swim/bath etc. I’m thinking they might work for me up in KY.

    1. I clipped their flight feathers once, and by the time the feathers grew out, they birds were too heavy for flight, and have stayed in the yard ever since.

      Being a tropical, tree perching bird (they have claws and roost at night, at least in the wild – mine are too fat to get into a tree!), these duck do not require water, but they will play in it from time to time. They do like to have lots of water for drinking available near their food though. particularly if you are feeding them a dry, crumbly feed, such as chicken layer mash.

    1. If I had a plucker, I’d probably entertain fencing off an area for duck to range that didn’t allow them to get to my gardens.

  3. When we buy the homestead I think I’m going to try to raise some meat birds. The ones that are ready in about 60days.

    Thought of doing maybe 20-30 and then using a plucker. I might try those ducks as well.

    I wonder if you can rent them? Prolly only need one one day a year if the plan works out.

    1. I’ve talked to a few folks around here, and it seems that there is a gap in services…a chicken plucker rental business would be a money maker, I’d think. Nobody around here has one :(

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