Muscovy Duck

The Muscovy duck is a popular and large domestic duck native to Mexico, Central and South America. But it is also available throughout the world. Muscovy duck is the only domesticated duck that is not derived from the Mallard duck.

It is a wild Central/South American species that has been domesticated. It is a very unique breed of duck. Actually, it’s not even a true duck, it’s simply called a duck. But it is a close cousin to the ducks. And it is a completely different species of waterfowl, the cairina moschata.

All the true domestic or non-domestic ducks originate from the Mallard duck, but the Muscovy duck doesn’t. However, the Muscovy ducks were domesticated by the people where it is native, long before the Europeans arrived in the new World.

They have a gamey aroma and are also called by some other names such as Musk duck, Musky Duck or Barbary duck. They are also called Musco ducks because they eat lots of mosquitoes. There are many other names of the Muscovy duck in different parts of the world.

But the exact origin of the name of Muscovy duck is unknown. The term ‘Muscovy’ means “from the Moscow region”. But these ducks are not native there, and not even were introduced there before they become known in the Western Europe. It is thought that the Muscovy duck got it’s name from Muscovite Company which traded this duck during the 1500s.

The breed was standardized in the British Waterfowl Standards in 1954 and there are 9 different color varieties standardized. And they first entered into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874 and were standardized in Black, Blue, Chocolate and White color varieties.

Today the Muscovy duck is a popular meat bird and it is increasingly being kept as backyard pets and even exhibition birds. They are available throughout the World, and feral Muscovy ducks are found in Australia, New Zealand and in parts of Europe.

Muscovy Duck Breed Information

Here we are trying to include full breed information of this popular duck breed.

Characteristics

Some of the top characteristics of these ducks are:

Appearance

Muscovy duck is classed as a heavyweight duck. All the Muscovy ducks have a wide flat tail and long claws on their feet. The domestic drakes are almost twice the size of ducks. In general, the length of the drakes is about 34 inches (86 cm), while the ducks are much smaller and their average length is 25 inches (64 cm).

The true wild Muscovy duck is blackish in color with large white wing patches. And all the domesticated Muscovy ducks originated from these wild ducks.

Length of these wild Muscovy ducks can vary from 26 to 33 inches (66 to 84 cm), wingspan can vary from 54 to 60 inches (137 to 152 cm), and on average weight is about 1.1 to 4.1 kg.

Wild Muscovy drakes have short crest on the nape on their head. Their bill is black with speckling of pale pink. A blackish or dark red knob can also be seen at the bill base. And the bare skin of the face is also blackish.

The legs and webbed feet of the wild drakes are blackish, and their eyes are yellowish-brown. While the wild ducks/females are similar in plumage, but are much smaller. They lack the prominent knob and have feathered face. The wild juvenile is duller overall, with little or no white on the upper wing.

The domesticated Muscovy duck may look similar to the wild duck. Most of them are black or dark brown in color mixed with white, particularly on the head. Other colors are also seen such as lavender or all-white.

Both drakes and ducks of domesticated Muscovy have a nude black and red or all red face. And the drakes also have a low erectile crest of feathers and pronounced caruncles at the base of the bill.

Domesticated Muscovy ducklings are mostly yellow with buff-brown markings on the tail and wings. Some also have a dark head and blue eyes, others have dark markings on their nape and have a light brown crown.

The ducks have a quiet trilling coo and the drakes have a low breathy call. There are many color varieties of the domesticated Muscovy duck. Such as Black, Blue, Bronze, Chocolate, Lavender, Pied (white with any color mixed), Ripple, White and many more pastel colors (but these are very rare).

The Black, Blue, Chocolate and White color varieties are standardized by the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection. On average the domestic Muscovy duck weights about 2.7 to 3.6 kg.

And average body weight of the drakes is about 4.6 to 6.8 kg. Sometimes the large domesticated drakes weight up to 8 kg, and ducks weight up to 5 kg.

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Behavior

Muscovy ducks are known for their docile and friendly nature. They are quieter than other duck breeds and tend to make less noise.

They are also more intelligent than other ducks, and many owners report that they can be trained to come when called and even perform simple tricks. Muscovy ducks are not migratory birds and are content to remain in a particular area as long as they have sufficient food, water, and shelter.

Meat quality

Muscovy ducks are bred for their meat, which is known for being lean and flavorful. Unlike other duck breeds, Muscovy ducks do not have a layer of fat under their skin, which makes their meat less greasy and healthier to consume.

They are often described as having a taste and texture similar to beef, and their meat is in high demand in many parts of the world.

Egg Production

Muscovy ducks are not prolific egg layers, with females laying an average of 80-120 eggs per year. However, their eggs are larger than those of other duck breeds, and they have a higher protein content.

Muscovy duck eggs are also more flavorful and richer than chicken eggs, making them a popular choice for culinary purposes.

Shelter and Care

Muscovy ducks are relatively easy to care for and can adapt to a range of environments. They require a shelter that provides protection from predators and the elements, with adequate ventilation and space to move around.

A diet of commercial duck feed, supplemented with fresh greens and insects, is ideal for their health and growth. They also need access to clean water for swimming and drinking.

Housing

In order to provide them with a comfortable living environment, it is essential to set up appropriate housing. In this article, we will discuss the various aspects of Muscovy duck housing.

Shelter

Muscovy ducks require a shelter that provides protection from predators and the elements. The shelter should be spacious enough to allow the ducks to move around freely and should have adequate ventilation to prevent respiratory problems.

The shelter can be made of wood, metal, or other durable materials. It should have a raised floor to prevent flooding during heavy rains.

Bedding

A clean and comfortable bedding material is essential for the ducks’ health and well-being. The bedding should be soft and absorbent, and it should be changed regularly to prevent the build-up of waste and bacteria. Common bedding materials include straw, hay, or wood shavings.

Perches

Muscovy ducks like to perch and roost, so it is important to provide them with perches inside their shelter. The perches should be made of sturdy materials, such as wood or metal, and should be placed at different heights to allow the ducks to choose their preferred roosting spot.

Nest Boxes

Female Muscovy ducks require nesting boxes to lay their eggs. The nesting boxes should be placed in a quiet and secluded area of the shelter, away from the perches and feeding areas.

The boxes should be lined with soft bedding material and should be cleaned regularly to prevent the build-up of bacteria.

Water

Muscovy ducks require access to clean water for swimming and drinking. A shallow pool or pond can be built for the ducks to swim in, or a large water dish can be provided. The water dish should be cleaned and refilled regularly to prevent contamination.

Balanced Diet

Muscovy ducks require a balanced diet of commercial duck feed, supplemented with fresh greens and insects. The feed should be provided in feeders that are designed to prevent wastage and contamination. The feeders should be placed in a dry and protected area of the shelter, away from the water sources.

Feeding

Proper feeding is essential for the health and well-being of Muscovy ducks, as well as for their growth and development. Now we will discuss the various aspects of Muscovy duck feeding.

Commercial Feed

Commercial duck feed is readily available and is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of ducks. The feed is available in different forms, such as pellets, crumbles, or mash.

The feed should be provided in a clean and dry feeder, and it should be changed regularly to prevent spoilage and contamination.

Supplements

Supplementing the duck’s diet with fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables is essential for their health and well-being. Fresh greens such as spinach, lettuce, and kale can be given in small amounts daily, along with small quantities of fruits such as apples, berries, and bananas.

Additionally, Muscovy ducks enjoy insects such as earthworms and snails, which can be given as a treat.

Protein

Protein is essential for the growth and development of Muscovy ducks. Commercial duck feed contains adequate levels of protein, but additional protein sources can be provided in the form of mealworms, crickets, and other insects. Cooked eggs and canned dog food can also be provided as a source of protein.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for egg production and the development of strong bones in Muscovy ducks. Oyster shells or crushed eggshells can be provided as a source of calcium. The shells should be cleaned and crushed into small pieces and provided in a separate feeder.

Water

Clean and fresh water is essential for the health and well-being of Muscovy ducks. A constant supply of fresh water should be provided in a shallow water dish or trough. The water should be changed regularly to prevent contamination.

Breeding

Breeding Muscovy ducks is relatively easy, and they are known for their high fertility rates and ability to raise their young independently. Here, we will discuss the various aspects of Muscovy duck breeding.

Age of Breeding

Muscovy ducks reach sexual maturity at around 5-6 months of age. However, it is best to wait until they are at least 8 months old before breeding them. Older ducks have a better chance of producing healthy and viable eggs.

Selecting Breeding Pairs

Selecting the right breeding pair is crucial for successful breeding. Breeding pairs should be selected based on their health, size, and temperament. Ideally, the male should be larger than the female, as this can increase the chances of successful breeding.

Muscovy ducks have a unique breeding behavior, and they will often choose their own mates. It is best to let them choose their own mates, as this can increase the chances of successful breeding.

Breeding Season

Muscovy ducks are seasonal breeders, and breeding typically occurs during the spring and summer months. It is important to provide the breeding pair with a quiet and private nesting area, as this can help ensure their privacy and increase their chances of successful breeding.

Incubation

Muscovy ducks are known for their ability to hatch and raise their young independently. However, if you want to hatch the eggs artificially, you can use an incubator. The incubation period for Muscovy duck eggs is around 35 days.

The temperature and humidity levels in the incubator should be maintained at the recommended levels to ensure the healthy development of the embryos.

Raising the Young

Muscovy ducklings are hardy and require little assistance from humans. However, it is important to provide them with a clean and warm environment, and a balanced diet. Ducklings should be fed a diet consisting of commercial chick feed and supplemented with fresh greens and protein supplements.

Caring

Muscovy ducks are a unique breed of domesticated duck that requires special care and attention. Proper care is essential to ensure their health, well-being, and productivity. In this article, we will discuss the various aspects of caring for Muscovy ducks.

Shelter

Muscovy ducks require a clean and dry housing area that provides protection from predators, extreme weather conditions, and direct sunlight.

A well-ventilated coop with clean bedding is essential to keep the ducks healthy and free from disease. The coop should also have a separate nesting area where the ducks can lay their eggs and hatch their young.

Feeding

Muscovy ducks require a balanced diet that provides the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Their diet should consist of commercial duck feed, fresh greens, and protein supplements like mealworms or earthworms. Clean and fresh water should be provided at all times.

Grooming

Muscovy ducks require regular grooming to keep their feathers clean and free from parasites. Regular brushing and trimming of feathers can also help prevent feather pecking and aggressive behavior among the ducks. Grooming also involves checking for any signs of illness or injury and providing appropriate treatment if needed.

Healthcare

Muscovy ducks require regular health check-ups and vaccination against common diseases like avian influenza and duck viral enteritis. Regular deworming and parasite control are also essential to keep the ducks healthy and free from diseases.

Breeding and Hatching

Breeding and hatching of Muscovy ducks require special care and attention. The ducks should be provided with a private and quiet nesting area where they can lay their eggs and hatch their young. Proper incubation conditions and regular monitoring of the eggs are essential for successful hatching.

Uses

Muscovy ducks are a versatile bird that has a wide range of uses in agriculture, food production, and as pets. They are primarily raised for their meat and eggs but can also be used for pest control, composting, and as pets.

With their unique characteristics and adaptability, they are a valuable addition to any farm or backyard. Here are the top uses of these beautiful ducks.

Meat Production

Muscovy ducks are primarily raised for their meat. Their meat is lean, tender, and has a unique flavor that is different from other meat duck breeds. Muscovy ducks have higher yields of meat compared to other duck breeds and are often used for commercial meat production.

Egg Production

Muscovy ducks are also used for egg production. They lay large, white eggs that are similar in size to chicken eggs. Their eggs are rich in protein and essential nutrients and are often used for baking and cooking.

Pest Control

Muscovy ducks are natural pest control agents. They feed on insects, snails, slugs, and other pests that can damage crops and gardens. They are an effective alternative to chemical pesticides and can help reduce the use of harmful chemicals in agriculture.

Composting

Muscovy ducks can also be used to produce compost. Their manure is rich in nitrogen and can be used to fertilize crops and gardens. Muscovy ducks can be raised in a composting system where they feed on kitchen scraps and yard waste, and their manure is collected for composting.

Pet

Muscovy ducks are also kept as pets. They are gentle and friendly birds that are easy to tame and train. They make great companions for children and adults alike and can provide hours of entertainment with their quirky behaviors.

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Special Notes

The Muscovy ducks are a rather unique bird. They are usually gentle birds, unless the duck is sitting or has a young brood. The drakes are not noisy and don’t quack, instead have a low hiss or breathy call. And the ducks have a quiet trilling coo.

These feature in both drakes and ducks make them the quietest of all the domesticated duck breeds. The Muscovy duck can fly well and is good escape artist, so they need to be wing-clipped. Especially the ducks are able to fly long distances. But the drakes are less flighty mainly because they are heavier than the ducks.

They have a goose like flight with a straight neck. And usually they can be seen flying at dawn and at dusk. You don’t need a large source of water for raising Muscovy ducks. As they usually do not swim as much as other breeds, because their oil glands are under developed.

The wild Muscovy duck is shy and usually silent. The domestic Muscovy duck is very intelligent, but sometimes can be aggressive. Some people appreciate the breed for their intelligence, distinctive appearance and friendly and trusting personality. While others dislike them for their messiness, aggression and different appearance.

The Muscovy ducks usually roost in small groups in trees as they are perching ducks. In most cases their diet includes insects, fishes, leaves, roots, seeds, stems, reptiles and small mammals.

The Muscovy ducks are not among the very fast growing ducks, and take about a year to be fully mature. But as a meat duck breed they reach slaughtering age pretty earlier. Drakes often fight with other drakes for social status and for the right to breed with a duck. And in this case the drakes can be very aggressive.

The ducks are fair egg layers but are excellent mothers. Ducks usually lay a clutch of 8-16 large white eggs and incubate their eggs for about 35 days. However, review full breed profile of the Muscovy duck in the following chart.

Breed NameMuscovy
Other NamesMusk duck, Musky Duck, Barbary duck or Musco ducks. There are many other names of the Muscovy duck in different parts of the world which are listed here.

 

Bulgarian: Мускусна патица
Catalan: Ànec mut
Danish: Moskusand
Dutch: Muskus eend
Estonian: muskuspart
French: Canard de Barbarie, Canard musqué
Finnish: Myskisorsa
German: Moschusente
Icelandic: Moskusönd
Italian: Anatra muschiata, Anatra muta
Japanese: nobariken
Lithuanian: Muskusinė antis
Norwegian: Knoppand
Portuguese: asa-branca, cairina, gamaleão, pato, pato-bravo, pato-bravo-verdadeiro, pato-crioulo, Pato-do-mato, pato-picaço, pato-selvagem
Spanish: Bragado, Pato criollo, Pato negro, Pato Real, Pato real o negro
Swedish: Myskand, Turkish: Amerikan Ördeği

Breed PurposeMeat, Exhibition
Special NotesActive, Calm, Docile, Excellent Foragers, Friendly, Excellent Mothers
Breed ClassHeavy
BroodinessExcellent

Drake

4.6 to 6.8 kg
Duck2.7 to 3.6kg
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Egg ColorWhite
Egg SizeLarge
Egg Weight65 to 85 grams
Egg ProductivityLow
Flying AbilityExcellent
RarityCommon
VarietiesBlack, Blue, Bronze, Chocolate, Lavender, Pied (white with any color mixed), Ripple, White and many more pastel colors (but these are very rare). The Black, Blue, Chocolate and White color varieties of the Muscovy duck are standardized by the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection.
Country of OriginUnited States

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Muscovy Ducks

Here are some interesting facts about Muscovy ducks:

They are Not Closely Related to Other Duck Breeds

Muscovy ducks are genetically distinct from other duck breeds and are actually closer in DNA to geese than they are to ducks.

They Have an Unique Appearance

Muscovy ducks are easily recognized by their unique appearance. They have a bright red face, large caruncles (fleshy growths) around their eyes and bill, and a distinct crest of feathers on their head.

They are Excellent Fliers

Unlike other domesticated duck breeds, Muscovy ducks are excellent fliers and can fly up to 60 miles per hour.

They are a Quiet Breed

Muscovy ducks are known for being quieter than other domesticated duck breeds. They are also less likely to quack and instead make a hissing sound.

They Have Natural Pest Control Abilities

Muscovy ducks have a natural inclination to eat insects, slugs, snails, and other pests. This makes them an excellent addition to gardens and farms, as they can help control pest populations without the use of harmful chemicals.

They are Good Mothers

Female Muscovy ducks are excellent mothers and are very protective of their ducklings. They will defend their young against predators and will even carry their ducklings to safety in their beaks.

They are a Popular Food Source in Some Cultures

Muscovy ducks are a popular food source in some cultures and are considered a delicacy in countries such as Mexico and Peru.

They Have Been Domesticated for Thousands of Years

Muscovy ducks have been domesticated for thousands of years, with evidence of their domestication dating back to pre-Columbian times in South America.

They Have Been Used for Pest Control in Rice Fields

In some parts of Asia, Muscovy ducks are used to control pests in rice paddies. The ducks are released into the paddies where they eat insects and weeds, which helps to reduce the need for pesticides.

They are a Popular Pet

Muscovy ducks are also kept as pets by some people. They are friendly and intelligent birds that can be trained to do tricks and respond to commands,

Frequently Asked Questions

People ask many questions about Muscovy ducks. Here we are trying to list the most common questions about this beautiful duck breed. Hope you will find your answer. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.

Is Muscovy duck farming profitable?

Yes, commercial production of these brids is a profitable business. You can make good profits from this business, even if you are a beginner.

How much profit can I make from this business?

It’s not possible to tell the exact amount. You can consult with some existing farmers in your area for having some ideas.

What is a Muscovy duck?

Muscovy ducks are a breed of domesticated duck that is genetically distinct from other duck breeds. They are known for their unique appearance, which includes a bright red face, large caruncles around their eyes and bill, and a distinct crest of feathers on their head.

What do Muscovy ducks eat?

Muscovy ducks are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, including insects, slugs, snails, worms, and other small animals. They also eat vegetation such as grass, leaves, and aquatic plants. In captivity, they can be fed a diet of commercial duck feed supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.

How long do Muscovy ducks live?

Average lifespan of these ducks is around or up to 8-12 years in captivity with proper care.

Can Muscovy ducks fly?

Yes, these ducks are excellent fliers and can fly up to 60 miles per hour. However, they are less likely to fly if they have access to plenty of food and water and a safe place to roost.

Are Muscovy ducks good pets?

Yes, these ducks can make good pets for people who have the space and resources to care for them. They are friendly, intelligent birds that can be trained to do tricks and respond to commands.

Are Muscovy ducks noisy?

These ducks are quieter than other domesticated duck breeds and are less likely to quack. Instead, they make a hissing sound.

How do Muscovy ducks reproduce?

These ducks reproduce through sexual reproduction, with males and females mating to produce fertilized eggs. Female Muscovy ducks are excellent mothers and will care for their ducklings until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Can Muscovy ducks be used for pest control?

Yes, these ducks have a natural inclination to eat insects, slugs, snails, and other pests. They can be used to control pest populations in gardens and farms, as well as in rice paddies in some parts of Asia.

Are Muscovy ducks good for meat production?

Yes, these ducks are considered to be a good meat source and are often raised for meat production in some parts of the world.

Do Muscovy ducks need a pond?

While these ducks enjoy swimming and bathing in water, they do not necessarily require a pond to live a healthy life. They can be kept in a dry area as long as they have access to fresh water for drinking and bathing. However, providing a small pond or other water source will help keep them clean and healthy.

How to take care of Muscovy ducks?

Caring these ducks is very easy and simple. Their needs are simple, and the beginners can also take good care of them. Just feed them with good quality food, arrange a good shelter for them and they will be happy.

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