Raising Muscovy Ducks

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Raising Muscovy ducks is very easy. They are easy to care for, friendly and a great dual-purpose duck to have on the homestead. In this post, you’ll find all the information that you need about raising Muscovy ducks.

I’ve been raising Muscovy ducks for a few years now and I can tell you, hands down, it’s the easiest animal I have ever taken care of. Or in other words… They pretty much take care of themselves.

I started my Muscovy duck journey with two females (hens) and one male (drake) that my ex-husband picked up from friends and this trio multiplied very quickly and became a great source of food for us.

But there is so much more to Muscovy ducks than just food production! We are going to go over all the benefits of raising them and all the questions that you might have. Let’s jump in!

Raising Muscovy Ducks…

Raising Muscovy ducks is very easy. They are easy to care for, friendly and great dual-purpose duck to have on the homestead. In this post, you'll find all the information that you need about raising Muscovy ducks.

I am going to try to answer all the questions that you might have about Muscovy ducks. I hope that if you are considering this amazing breed of ducks this post will give you all the info that you need to make a decision.

If at the end of this post you have additional questions, feel free to post them in the comments.

Origin of Muscovy Ducks…

Muscovy ducks are native to South America and you can still find them roaming around wild in the jungles there.

Their original name was Musco ducks because they eat so many mosquitoes. The Russian Muscovites were the first to import them into their country and raise them domestically; this is where the name Muscovy came from.

They are the only duck that is not derived from the mallard duck. In fact, they are not considered a duck. They are a large waterfowl, something between a goose and a duck.

What do Muscovy Ducks Look Like?

An adult Muscovy male swimming in the pond.
an adult muscovy drake (male)

One of the most known characteristics of Muscovy ducks is their large red, warty caruncles on their head. They appear when the duck reaches maturity around 5-6 months of age. The male Muscovy has a larger mass of them while the female only has a red mask around her eyes.

Note that in this post, you’ll see a lot of pictures of my Muscovy ducks without the red, warty caruncles, this is because they are still young, probably around 4 months of age. 

Muscovy males are large. They can reach 15 lb while the females are smaller and can reach about 9 lb.

Muscovies have many different and beautiful colors. They can range from black to brown to grey or white or tan and one duck can have more than one color.

Do Muscovy Ducks Quack?

Muscovy ducks around the homestead.
four months old Muscovy ducks

No! Muscovy ducks don’t quack. They do make a hissing noise mainly when they talk to each other but it’s not a loud noise. For the most part, they are very quiet ducks.

This might be a pro or it might be a con to owning Muscovy ducks depending on what you like. I generally prefer quiet! I owned Guinea fowl before and just about lost my mind with the amount of noise they made.

What do Muscovy Ducks Eat?

Muscovy ducks eat chicken feed, bugs, flies, mosquitoes, greens and kitchen scraps, bread and pasta, and fish.

If your Muscovy ducks are free-range, they don’t need you to feed them a whole lot even when they are very young. They will clean your yard of ticks and other nasty bugs.

You’ll see them eat some grass and other greens (yes! They will eat your garden if they can access it) as well.

But maybe the best thing about Muscovy ducks is that they love eating flies and mosquitoes! You’ll literally see the ducks catch the flies in the air as they fly by. When it comes to mosquitoes, they’ll either eat adults or they’ll eat them at the larva stage.

Let me tell you a story… I moved to my house in the country in 2016. The house was abandoned for 7 years. There was trash everywhere, standing puddles of water, and an overgrown lawn.

Right next to the house there is a pond. But it’s not really a pond, more like a swamp. It’s shallow and fills and dries depending on the rain.

A perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and so on.

Even though we cleaned the place, it was still impossible to sit outside on the porch, the mosquitoes were just unbearable! This went on for a year. Then, we got our three Muscovies… Within 3 months, the place was cleaned up completely.

Since then, I have maybe 10% of the flies that I should have with all the livestock around me and not a single mosquito in sight! For me, this is a great reason for owning these amazing ducks!

Muscovy ducks on the lawn.
four months old Muscovy drake

Even though they can forage and take care of themselves, I still feed my free-ranging ducks a couple of cups of chicken feed in the morning, just to get them used to me and to a routine.

If your Muscovy ducks live in a fence they will depend on you to feed them…

Ducklings – ducks grow very fast and so they need feed that is rich in protein. Non medicated chick starter feed with 20-22% protein is a good choice. Feed it free choice.

Young ducks and adults – I find that after the first three weeks Muscovy ducks can transition to adult feed with no problem. Feed 16% protein chicken layer feed either free choice or at least eight ounces per duck per day.

You can also feed your ducks corn, herbs, kitchen scraps, weeds, old bread, fish, old cheese, and so on.

Always make sure that your ducks have plenty of water! Muscovy ducks love washing themselves and they drink a whole lot. Like any other duck, they make a mess of the water so make sure to clean and change the water daily.

This is a great article on how to feed ducks if you want to dig even deeper.

Do Muscovy Ducks Need Shelter?

Muscovy ducks living around the pond.
Muscovy ducks living around the pond

Muscovy ducks only need shelter for their nests or if you live in a very cold climate. They don’t mind the rain, they don’t mind the cold, they don’t mind the snow, and they don’t need you to supply them with roosting bars because they prefer the ground.

They are very hardy ducks and easy to care for! My ducks do have shelter but I never see them use it. I’ll see them stand in the rain and enjoy it. Even when we get some snow, they still stay outside.

Now, I am in the South and it never gets below zero here. We also don’t have a whole lot of snow. Maybe if you live in Alaska it makes sense to make sure that they have a protected place to hang out in during the winter.

However, they do need a protected place for their nests. Something like a nest box or access to the floor of the chicken coop or maybe access to an old shed or some sort of outbuilding. My free-ranged ducks love making a nest in my dog’s house! You’ll learn more about their nests below.

Are Muscovy Ducks Friendly?

Muscovy ducks hanging out together.

The only time that Muscovy ducks are not friendly is when they have their young with them. A mother Muscovy duck will try to make sure that no one gets closer to her ducklings. Other than that, they are VERY friendly ducks!

They will eat from your hand and follow you everywhere like dogs. They are very slow (which makes them easy prey if they are free-rangers) and easy to catch.

They generally get along very well with other animals! I raise my ducks around my dog and cat and they live with the chickens and goats.

They get along very well with the other animals. Usually, it’s the chickens that are mean to them and I need to keep an eye on and deal with a mean hen.

Between them, they get along very well. The only time that I had an issue was when I had too many drakes in one fence. They kept fighting with each other and with the roosters and I had to get rid of a few. This is normal behavior for most animals.

If your Muscovy ducks are fenced, make sure that you don’t have more than one drake for four hens.

When do Muscovy Ducks Start to Lay Eggs?

Muscovy ducks start mating and laying eggs around 7 months old. The female chooses a location for her nest and keeps coming back to the same nest. If you have a few females, each one of them will have her own nest.

Muscovy duck eggs

They mostly make their nests on the ground in a protected area. They might choose to make their nest under the goat’s milk stand, in an empty bin, or under the wooden pallet that holds the hay bales.

Muscovy hen sitting on a nest of eggs.
Muscovy hen sitting on a nest of eggs

They pluck some of their breast feathers and use straw to make their nest.

They lay one egg a day in that nest and if you leave the eggs in the nest, the hen will start sitting on the nest when it has 6 or more eggs. Most of my hens go broody when the nest is 12 to 17 eggs large.

It takes 35 days for Muscovy duck eggs to hatch. During those days the hen doesn’t always stay on the nest. She might leave the nest for a little while and go to eat or wash.

This might be a little strange if you are used to chickens. Broody hens will not leave the eggs and chicken eggs have to keep a certain constant temperature in order to hatch.

At first, when I saw my broody Muscovy hen get up and leave her nest I thought that the eggs were ruined. But trust the duck and don’t touch the eggs! She will be back and all will be fine. She knows very well what she is doing!

You can watch a video of my first Muscovy ducks hatching on YouTube HERE.

Muscovies do not lay eggs year-round. They start when the weather starts to get warm in the spring and stop when the weather cools down. Here in the South, their season is between March to October. Then they will take a break for the winter.

During their season, they can sit and hatch two to three nests. If each nest has 10-15 eggs in it you can imagine how fast the Muscovy population in your homestead can take off.

I manage that by collecting some of the eggs and butchering some of the ducks.

Are Muscovy Ducks Good Mothers?

Three weeks old Muscovies with mother.
three weeks old Muscovy ducks with mama

Muscovy ducks are the best mothers. They take very good care of their young and they are very protective of them. In fact, Muscovy mothers are pretty aggressive and won’t let anyone close to their babies!

Once all the eggs hatch the mother will spend two more days in the nest with the babies. She will clean her babies and won’t leave them for a moment. She doesn’t show up for feeding those days and I don’t feed her or bring her water. I just let them be.

After a couple of days, they will leave the nest and just walk around. Sometimes they come back to the nest for the night and sometimes they find another spot.

Muscovy ducklings follow mom and dad

The young ducklings will always stay behind their mother. If your ducks free-range they’ll walk around and hang out by a water source like a pond if one is available.

Take into consideration that the little ducklings are very easy prey. Many times I had mothers go into the woods with 10 ducklings and come back with 6.

You can choose to grab them after they hatch and move them to a brooder for a few weeks for their protection. Make sure to relocate the mother as well so she knows where her ducks are.

Muscovy duckings in a brooder.
five day old Muscovy ducklings

I sometimes move them to a brooder that has an open top. This way the mother can fly in and out. She can go wash and eat and come back.

If your ducklings don’t free-range, you’ll have to make sure that they have water and feed. Make sure that the water dish is not deep. They will most likely play in the water and if it’s deep and there is no easy way for them to get out they will drown.

Three weeks old Muscovy ducks.
three weeks old Muscovy ducks

Ducklings grow very fast and somewhere between four to six weeks they no longer need their mother. She will take a little break and then she’ll start mating and laying eggs for the next nest.

How to Tell the Sex of Muscovy Ducks…

When Muscovy ducks reach maturity it’s easy to see which one is a hen and which is a drake. The drakes are considerably larger than the hens and they have a larger mass of red caruncles on their head.

When they are young ducklings, sexing is a bit more difficult. I look at their tail. The drakes will have a much fatter tail than the hens. Still, it’s not easy to sex them when they are young.

This video will show you how to sex day old ducklings. I’ve never tried it but this might be a reliable method.

Do Muscovy Ducks Fly?

The drakes can fly but not very well since they are pretty heavy-bodied. I see my male ducks fly very low, just a few feet off the ground and not very far or often. The Muscovy hens fly very well.

The hens fly all over and around the homestead and often land on the roof of the house and just hang out there for a while, walking from here to there.

It’s very cute to see them up there on the roof but not always a great thing… I have a friend that is now dealing with a leaking roof because the ducks messed with the seal around the vents.

If you don’t want to have your ducks free-range and fly and prefer for them to be fenced and not fly around, you can clip one of their wings just as you would do with chickens. I show how to do this in my post about clipping chicken wings

Will Muscovy Ducks Fly Away in the Winter?

Muscovy ducks don’t care much about the cold and even though they are a wild kind of duck, they are also very domesticated and love having a home. They don’t fly away in the winter.

I have never had my ducks take off even though they were free. They love staying around the house. They come back every morning to eat the feed that I throw on the ground for them. They make their nests around the homestead even though they can go and find a hollow log or a bush nearby.

I do get emails and comments from people who walked out of their house one day and found a Muscovy duck by their pond (check the comment section of this post). So I guess that sometimes they do fly around but for the most part, if you provide them with a good home they will stay around the homestead.

Raising Muscovy Ducks For Egg Production…

Muscovy ducks are not an egg-laying machine. Not at all and I don’t recommend choosing them if egg production is your main goal. A hen might lay 80-120 eggs a year.

Don’t get me wrong, their eggs are amazing. They are the size of a very large chicken egg, the shell is creamy white and very strong, and the yolk takes most of the space in the egg. Their eggs are rich and very tasty.

We eat their eggs just as we eat chicken eggs and I also use them for baking (they make the best baked goods! I use them in my pumpkin bread, sweet potato bread, apple cake, challah bread, or any other bread or cake that calls for eggs).

They just don’t lay a ton of eggs which is the reason that I won’t keep them mainly for egg production.

Raising Muscovy Ducks For Meat Production…

Muscovy duck ready to store in the freezer.

Muscovy ducks are a great source of meat especially for those of us who are looking to become more self-sufficient. They might take a little longer than other breeds of ducks to mature but they lay, hatch, and care for their own young.

Here is the thing… Meat breeds can’t reproduce. So, if you raise Cornish Cross chickens, for example, you butcher them at 8-9 weeks and you have to turn to the hatchery to purchase your next batch of meat chickens. You are depending on the store.

If you don’t want to do that and you decide to raise a heritage breed that moves around, behaves like a normal chicken, and can reproduce (I chose Black Australorps), you are probably looking at 6-8 months for those chickens to reach their full size.

Muscovy ducks are not engineered, they can reproduce very well (one hen can hatch 30 to 50 eggs in a season), they are great mothers (saving you all the work of raising babies), AND they reach butchering size in 3-4 months old. Half of the time that it takes a heritage chicken.

Add to that the fact that their meat is great… Mostly dark meat and very lean (98% fat-free) making it a very healthy kind of meat and you have a great duck for self-sustained meat production.

Also, you should know that Muscovy duck meat is Kosher. So if you are Jewish and follow a Kosher diet, these ducks are a great source of meat. If you’d like to learn more about why Muscovy ducks are Kosher, this is a great article.

Butchering these ducks is exactly the same as butchering chickens or butchering turkeys. Here is a step by step tutorial on how to butcher a duck.

Muscovy Ducks: Pros and Cons…

Black Muscovy duck with green shine.

I know that this was a lot of information! Let’s make a quick list of pros and cons of owning Muscovy ducks so you can decide if they are for you…

Muscovy ducks pros –

  1. Friendly birds – they are friendly (apart from when they care for their babies) toward humans and other farm animals.
  2. They can help you control the fly and mosquito population – if you raise cows or other livestock you should consider adding a few Muscovies to the farm. They will reduce the fly population dramatically. Also, it might be a good idea to raise Muscovies in the bee yard if you keep bees. They’ll protect the hives from crawlers, wasps, and so on.
  3. They eat ticks and other parasites – they can help clean your yard.
  4. They don’t scratch or dig – as opposed to chickens, Muscovy ducks don’t scratch, dig, and make a mess.
  5. Great eggs – their eggs are the size of a large chicken egg. Large yolk, rich, and very tasty.
  6. Great meat – their meat is 98% fat-free, dark, and delicious. It is also Kosher.
  7. Great mothers – Muscovies will take care of their babies, saving you the need to hatch or purchase and raise ducklings.
  8. Quiet – they don’t quack. This may be a pro or a con for you.

Muscovy ducks cons

  1. Slow, easy prey – if your ducks free-range you might lose some to predators.
  2. Don’t lay many eggs – around 80-100 a year.
  3. They fly – this might not be an issue for you but take into consideration that they can land on roofs and poop and such.
  4. They poop a lot – oh well, this is true for any duck… They just poop a whole lot!

I hope that this post gave you enough information to decide whether you want to raise Muscovy ducks or not. They are a great breed of duck to add to any homestead in my opinion.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments. If you are raising Muscovy ducks please share your experience with us in the comments below.

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93 thoughts on “Raising Muscovy Ducks”

  1. I have used Muscovy hens to hatch & raise Pekin duklings as well as chickens. They will hatch & raise most domestic fowls, best brooders bar none! I have replaced & mixed eggs under them with great success.

    1. I don’t have any other kind of ducks. I tried with my chicken eggs but the sitting time for duck eggs and chicken eggs is different. I didn’t really put too much effort into it because I choose to raise black australorp chickens which are just as amazing mothers as the Muscovies! They hatch their own eggs too and raise their babies. I choose my farm animal breeds very carefully, you are so right about them being the best mothers! It saves the farmer sooooo much work.

  2. Fascinating site! More so because I read from others about their aggressive Muscovy ducks. I’d like to get some and feed them from my garden corn. Thanks for all great info.going to mark this. I wonder…your last name Lee? One of my ancestors was Robert E. Lee. Any relation? Thanks again. Oh, I see you were born in Israel. Shalom.

    1. Thank you! My name is actually Liron, it’s an Israeli name. I was born and raised there. I go by Lee here in the states because I got tired of telling people how to pronounce Liron. Everyone kept asking me how to say it 15 years ago when I moved here that at some point I started saying “you can just call me Lee”. It stuck and now even people in Israel call me Lee 🙂
      Muscovies are amazing! They are very easy to grow. And they LOVE corn. I buy mine whole corn all the time.

  3. Claudia McBride

    Thank you for some good information. I’ve lived most of my 69 years on a farm and raised many different animals but have never raised ducks. I’m getting 6 Muscovy duckling tomorrow and was looking for some information to be sure I would have what they needed. You’re blog gave me exactly the information I needed. I look forward to some good duck dinners.

    1. Once you figure out how to contain them, you are going to love them! They are easy to care for. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I agree with all the observations reported here. I have my own brood of 18 musco babies that are 5 weeks old right now. They are absolutely captivating creatures who don’t fuss if I am late in delivering their feed or changing their water on a twice daily basis at dawn and again at dusk. They just stand back and let me get on with doing them service then quietly get on with their feeding routine when I’m done. I love them to bits. So much so that I burn the midnight oil for them so they can enjoy supper snacks in the middle of the night!! I have mine cooped up because of feral cats, stray dogs, mongooses and hawks, but I love it because it keeps me busy and vigilant.

    1. Hi Henry! I love to find another muscovy fan! They are amazing ducks. I feel no need to raise any other kind of duck. Wait until yours are old enough to lay eggs and hatch babies. It’s amazing to watch and so much fun!
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  5. Our female Muscovy has a nest of 12 so far but we got a lot of rain last night and still raining today. Our are also free range on 2 acres and she choose the hollowed bottom of a tree on a low spot. I checked on them this morning and the entire nest and around the tree is flooded. I did my best to get the water to drain out of the nest hole and put a submersible pump near the tree to drain the water away from the tree. Do you think the eggs be ok or will she abandon the nest? She is still in there with them.

    1. I had this same thing happen with my chickens last week! I ended up throwing away the eggs but I am not sure that it was the right thing to do. I say if the duck is still sitting on the nest than let it be and see what happens.

  6. Great article. I would love to have some free range muscovy’s. I have a nice pond surrounded by woods on about 5 acres near St. Louis Mo. My pond aerator keeps the water open all winter. I wouldn’t want to use them for meat but just for fun. Sounds like over population may be a problem. One other problem is I’m away from home for 2 to 4 weeks at most in the winter which may be a deal breaker. We have mallards and wood ducks that hang out at times. With all that being said should I give up on keeping some muscovy’s for entertainment? Any thoughts would be appreciated

    1. Definitely, don’t give up! It actually sounds like you have the perfect place for them. As long as they free-range you can leave for three months and it won’t matter. They will take care of themselves and they won’t have a problem finding food if you have an ecosystem that includes a pond.
      Overpopulation… Yes, that may happen. I had females hatching nests of 18 babies! And they will hatch a few nests during the season. However, when they free-range sometimes ducklings disappear and don’t make it to adulthood. Also, I never counted my ducks but I had a feeling that some of them just flew away. Most of them stayed but some didn’t stick around (or so I felt…).
      If you do find yourself with overpopulation take into consideration that it’s going to be hard to catch them. The best thing is to get them used to certain feeding time. They all come to eat and since they are a bit slow you can catch them then.
      Or, if you can find where they lay their eggs you can always collect the eggs. They are delicious!

      1. Thank you for your help. Looking for a small coop for nesting. Then I think we’ll get a male and two females and go from there. You’ve been a big help!

  7. We live on a small lake which has 3 mescovy ducks roaming around on. About 6 years ago, my wife and I were floating around in the lake and noticed one of the ducks, we had named Clyde, was laying sideways on some rocks on the shore line. We picked him up and floated him over to our dock. We made a little nest and layed him in it. He could not move any of his feet, neck period. We went out to him 3 and 4 times of the day feeding him chicken noodle soup. We had to raise his head, and feed and water him that way. After many days he was getting his strength and we worked on lifting and lowering his head and neck and soon he was able to lift it on his own. Later, we carried him into the water and began teaching him to start using his feet. Back and forth, for many days. Then one evening we took him out, and he took off swimming around us. He would no longer let us put him back in the nest we had made. He is fully recovered, and Clyde comes and visits usnearly every day to eat some Milo we leave out for him. It was such an enjoyable experience for my wife and I and just wanted to share it.

    1. Oh my god! You gave me goosebumps! What an amazing story. I can’t believe you kept at it, what an amazing job you guys did. I love that he is staying around, mine always do too even when they free range. You need to find him a girlfriend!!
      Thanks for sharing this!

  8. I love this article…and I love Muscovy ducks too! We live on a small pond with some Pekins which we feed with cracked or whole corn. One day a male and a female Muscovy just showed up and eventually we had 11 precious little yellow chicks! You are so right about them being great mothers. Mama duck brought all 11 chicks into our yard just to show them to me and to show them where they could always get fed. She and the chicks completely disappeared for months and one day we had 10 young males and females waiting in our backyard for supper…and they never left. The females will actually eat out of a cup in my hand, furiously wagging their tails and making the most adorable sounds the whole time. Thank you so much for offering such great info on my favorite ducks!

  9. I’ve started raising Muscovy’s for the first time this year in sub-tropical Taiwan with 6 ducks at the moment. When starting out with a small batch of ducks from the same source (not sure if from the same parents or not) I’m curious whether or not to be concerned about in-breeding if I let them procreate naturally (which I’m planning to do).

    Unfortunately, despite raising them primarily for eggs (and to dispose of snail pests), I’ve wound up with what looks like 4 males and 2 females, so I’ve also just read your detailed post about duck slaughtering. However, they are about six months old already, so I’m also wondering if you have experience of slaughtering and eating ducks older than 4 months? Does the meat get extremely tough?

    Thanks for all the information! Muscovy’s are really fun!

    1. No concern about inbreeding! They will be just fine if you let them be. They know what to do.
      Most of my chickens and ducks are butchered when they are older… I prefer it because it saves me room in the freezer. I’ll just butcher four at a time whenever I need meat. Both my duck meat and chicken meat are processed in a pressure cooker for about 40 minutes. I just stick the whole bird in there and process it. Then the meat is falling off the bones and I get an amazing chicken/duck stock that I use to cook with. Once I have the meat processed I can do whatever I want with it. Our favorite is chicken/duck chili or chicken pot pie.
      I hope this helps!

  10. I love them too,but I live in a preserve and our development is right in the middle,I have a moma duck that has bin coming to see me for a hand out,I feed her what you do.For 5 years she would leave her babies with me for about an hour each day,First I thought she trusted me,but I guess not,I have water behind my home and they love it.I am breaking the rules of the homeowner’s, they sent out letters not to feed them,I have them trained feed them before the sun comes up and after it goes down.I noticed the babies dont have a very good chance to make it to adulthood,Well my moms duck who I call Brownie had 9 5 months ago They are all still hanging out,I’ve bin doing this for 30 years,I think this is the first bunch that I haven’t lost one.I enjoyed and learned a few things from your post ,thank you very much.

    1. This is true! I also found that many of the babies disappear if I let them free-range. I had to take muy garden fence down so now my ducks are fenced. I have more control over the ducklings now that the mothers are fenced.

  11. You only feed 5 cups twice a day for 70 birds? I feed way to much then! I have about the same amount of free range birds. Thank you!

    1. If they free range, yes. Let them work! They love searching for food (actually, they don’t have much else to do…). If you have a good habitate for them they shouldn’t have any problem finding food. I do feed a bit more in the winter, but not much more.

    1. Oh, good to know! My herbs are in containers on my front porch. They never come that close to the house so they never mess with those plants.

  12. I just got 2 Muscovy ducks 3 days ago. Had no clue about them at all the breeder said ” here! I am going to sell you 2 Muscovy ducklings, they are easy to raise!” Hmmmmm. So I am keeping them in a plastic tub, for now and letting them out when I think they can manage on their own. I don’t have a Male.
    I live in the upper desert in Southern Calif. (190 miles from Los Vegas) it is cold ( no snow, but close) and very windy and rainy in the winter. Do I need to make a shelter for them? I was going to put them in a larger area. I am thinking of getting 2 small breed pigs, too, can they all be together? If all were the perfect scenario; I’d have my pigs, geese(2), Muscovy and the 4 Swedish blue ducks together……. I don’t know and I am new to this. I just love ducks and pigs. No butchering, they are pets. Sorry, I am a bit wordy….

    1. They are perfect for your situation and the breeder was right, super easy to raise!
      You don’t need a shelter for them but they would love to have a couple of nest boxes (each female will make her own nest).
      Don’t get a male! The females will lay eggs and you collect the eggs and eat them. If you get a male and you let your females sit on the eggs you might go from 3 ducks to 30 in one season. That is great only if you are going to butcher them or sell the ducklings. If you are not planning on doing any of those then just enjoy your two females and their eggs.
      You can keep them with any other animals you want. I had to fence soe of my ducks and I simply added them to my goat yard. I think that they will do just fine with pigs as well.
      You are going to love them!

  13. I love them too! I live in town and my neighbors don’t have a clue that I have ducks. No noise is the best part.i do disagree with a couple things. I have a, ATTACK MOSCOVY. NOT KIDDING! I have raised a few in the house because it was nessacery. This time I chose to do it. I took a 3 day old duck and raised it in the house. By the time he was 3 months old he was atacking all the cats and dogs. Then he started on me. I had scratched up and down my arms and legs. I finally put him in a pen. I got him a girlfriend. All was good till the babies were born. He tried to kill them. I put him in with 2 other males I have. He tried to kill them. I finally tossed him out in the yard. I put up a sign, ATTACK DUCK. He attacks people, dogs, cats,Chipmunks. He is evil. He sometimes still attacks me. He should be in the freezer but I just can’t. I raised him in the house.

    1. Oh wow. I guess that once in a while you can find a mean one. I currently have 6 males and they are all very nice. They are faat and they move so slow! They are super cute.

  14. We have 6 Muscovies. 3 are about 2 months old and the other 3 are about 3 weeks old. We let the older ones free-range most of the day, but at night they go into the bottom floor of our chicken house (the chickens go upstairs in the coop). We never planned it that way. They just seemed to really like it in there and were always chilling out in there. The 3 younger ones have been staying mostly in a 86″x40″x40″ pen. We just started letting then out for a few hours a day starting this week. After reading your wonderful post, I have a couple of questions for you. 1) We live in a suburban neighborhood and have neighbors to our side and back. Should I not be securing them in coops at night and just leave them to find their own place to sleep in the yard? It’s a rather large back yard (as far as suburban lots go), and there are lots of little hidey-holes for them. I was just afraid that a raccoon or possum might get to them. 2) For some reason, I thought that you were supposed to give them wild game food, so we’ve had them on the same wild game food as we have the quails on. However, I’ve read on the Internet that 28% protein may cause them to grow too quickly and cause problems. It sounds like yours mostly free-range, but I was wondering if you know what type of food I should have them on at their ages? Thank you so much for all the wonderful info!

    1. You can leave them to free-range in the yard but they might fly away. They might come back but they might not…
      If you don’t have a dog in the backyard, a raccoon might indeed get them…
      I feed mine chicken feed. The same feed you give laying hens. I also mix it with corn because they seem to really like it.

    1. The tail area of the male is larger than the tail area of the female when they are ducklings. They are also larger. So if you have a male and a female the same age, you can see that the female is smaller. It’s not always easy to tell.

  15. I had a young Muscovy duck show up one morning in my pond. After some research I found out she was a Muscovy and I bought 5 4 month old females and one 5 month old male. This was in the Fall and by the end of the next summer I had 60 ducks. Lol. I now pulled eggs and try to stay around 30 ducks. We haven’t seen any snakes since that first summer and the ticks haven’t been as bad. I enjoy having mine . I have photos of some of them in the trees around my place. They like to fly up there when they first learn to fly but after a while they stop. Enjoyed your article. Thank you.

    1. Funny you wrote this now! I just went from 10 ducks to 40 in a week! I’m gonna have a lot of butchering to do in a few months. They stop lying because they are getting heavy, especially the males. And I have the same experience as you have, since having them I went from seeing a snake in every corner (during the summer months) to only seeing a couple during the whole season. No ticks either. I love these guys!

  16. I too have raised Muscovies and like you I think that for a sustainable small livestock breed, there probably isn’t a better choice. I never had any luck letting my birds free range, though. They are just too many predators around, hawks being the worst (The only bird that I have been able to free range successfully is geese). But I never had a guard dog either. Other than that, my experiences with them have been just like yours.

    1. My dog is the heart of the operation, seriously! I have an Australian Sheperd and she is amazing. Right now I have 30 ducklings all over the lawn and I bet they would not have survived a day if the dog wasn’t here. My chickens too. Even though they are fenced raccoons and possums are so smart! They always find a way in and they learn that there is an easy dinner around and keep coming back. All those animals don’t even try to get close when they smell a dog. I had dogs all of my life but only after I started growing my own feed I really understood why they say that a dog is man’s best friend.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  17. what about hawks -owls -racoons and foxes and coyotes –if they free range will the moma fight of any hungry animal or bird

    1. Not really. Muscovies are heavy birds and they don’t stand much chance against those predators you listed. I will admit that I’ve lost many ducklings… Ten go in the woods after mama and eight come back.
      However, they always sleep at the homestead. So they might walk around the whole day and at night the mama with all her ducklings will go sleep by the hay in the feed room. They sleep under her at night. I keep my dog off the leash at night when I have ducklings and she is the one who keeps the ducks safe.
      I’ve never lost ducks at night (those predators are usually active at night), but I did lose some during the day (the dog is also off the leash during the day but they go in the woods and just walk around and she isn’t always with them).

  18. Hi! I just wanted to thank you for your time writing about the Muscoys! We live on a lake and have maybe 15 or so of them that come by daily. We just started paying attention about 6 months ago and had our first set of 6 babies come by about 4 months ago. They are here daily now because yes I feed them of course how could you not! I love them. It’s tough keeping them out of the pool and off the pool deck (hosing poop off the deck is a daily occurance in our home) but it’s worth it to have them around. Keep loving them up and we will too! Take care Jennifer

    1. I hear from so many people who live on a pond or a lake that one day Muscovies just showed up at their yard. It’s so awesome! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write this!

  19. awesome creatures. i thanks for the infor, i just started with five this year and i am looking forward to be enjoying a thousand of them in five years from now lol

    1. LOL! You are not far from reality. The only thing that might prebent that is if you have them free range. They are slow and don’t fly much which makes them a great snack for the animals in the woods!

  20. I really was wanting to find where I might buy Muscovies. I enjoyed your article so I read it all. I you know of a source for Muscovies please e-mail address below.

    1. I’ve never seen them sold online… I would say look on Craigslist, Facebook, or your local farm supply store.

  21. Hoping you can help me! We took in two Muscovies as a favor to my daughters best friend. Make and female. Female is great. Make is CRAZY PROTECTIVE AND VERY AGGRESSIVE!! Sometimes he just wants food, mostly he just likes to attack me because….?? I am the only one who interacts with them. We live in a farm. Daisy laid 21 eggs, 13 hatched a week ago. Cute as they can be!! But I put her eggs in an old chicken coop, and she can come and go as she pleases. I close her and her sucklings in at night, and put up a perimeter so they can get out and explore w/o getting hurt. We have a ton of snakes, hawks, etc.
    I noticed yesterday that she was nipping at one duckling in particular and constantly chasing it around the coop. It was probably the first one to “venture out…” I would find him outside of the coop all the time and have to put him back inside. I thought maybe she didn’t like me handling him, but I’ve handled most of the others over the week since they were born. He’s not hurt, eating and drinking just fine. Now she won’t even allow him in the coop. He tries to sneak in and settle on the other side away from her but as soon as she spots him she chases him away. I’m thankful I put that barrier up, so at least he will be protected from predators at night. Any thoughts as to what is causing her to shun him/her after a week? I know that if they are late hatchers, or sick, they will push them away, but this behavior just started yesterday?? I’m setting up a small box with hay, and his own food and water dish outside the coop. Thanks You for any advice!

    1. Animals do this sometimes… I just had a goat that rejected one of her perfectly healthy kids. All we can do is monitor and keep a close eye on the babies. In nature, they would not have survived, but with us around they have a chance. If you get a male from the little babies, keep it and get rid of the mean one!

      1. That is the plan. I was going to get rid of him months ago, but he seems to deter preying animals. He even looks ferocious. I think he was fed bread as a duckling. He has what I think is angel wing(?) but the family said he was attacked by their dog at a month old, bitten on both sides where his wings spread, and they grew like that. So, I’m not sure!
        And today Daisy is even more fierce concerning this little duck. He is the smallest of the group. And he keeps his distance. I’m going to have to catch him. Im thinking about taking another one that she seems to target more than the others, this one is also smaller than the rest. They can be buddies. (I’m afraid she will wind up killing him, if I don’t move him.) That’s my project for today.!!
        This is a great and informative site! Thanks for your time. Is there any way to post photos for you? I’d like to post a photo of my ducks and their daddy. (Angel wing)

  22. Good morning: I too love my Muscovy ducks and live in a community with a large lake behind my house. My question is this. Carol (we love her) had ducklings 6 weeks ago. I found her nesting by my front door again yesterday!! There she was with her 9 ducklings laying with her in the nest. Is this possible to still have young ducklings and start laying eggs again?

    1. Yes, definitely. They usually sit on 3 or 4 nests during the season (April to September here in the South). You can go from 3 ducks to 70 in one season!

  23. Oh my goodness! I don’t think that I have enjoyed a blog as much as yours. It is entertaining, friendly and full of all sorts of information. Thank you! Today we bought 4 Muskovy ducks. One male and three females. We didn’t know a whole lot about them before reading your blog and now I know a whole lot. We have other animals on our mini-farm so we are not totally clueless to raising animals for our enjoyment and to be self sustaining, so we were confident in bringing them home. It isn’t easy to get animals here where we live, so you have to jump at the chance when it comes up and learn about them on the run. From your blog, we just know these are going to be a great addition to our little farm. Thank you for sharing all of your experiences and your information.

    1. Oh, I’m so happy you like the information and find it helpful! And thank you for the feedback and kind words!!
      These ducks are amazing. They will be a great addition. Just make sure that you watch the size of the nests. You can easily go from four ducks to 50 in a season! I hope that you enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by.

  24. You stated in another post that you had to stop free ranging the Muscovies. Why is that?

    I’m getting ready to get six, and I don’t have a pen set up for them, since I was going to free range. Not sure what to do now.

    Also, do you know if they eat and tear up the yard grass?

    1. They don’t tear up the grass at all.
      I had to fence them because they started eating mt garden. Beet tops, cantaloupe plants, peas… They started eating all these plants.
      However, a few weeks ago, I set them free again. If you have a fence around your garden then it’s not a problem but I don’t. So what I do now is covering the garden rows. I either cover with agri fabric or with bird netting and it keeps them away. They don’t scratch and make a mess like chickens. They just like the greens…
      I really enjoyed them free-ranging. When they free-range I have no problems with bugs, no mosquitoes, and almost no flies at all. But, the other problem that I have now is that I can’t find the eggs! I guess there are pros and cons no matter what you choose.

  25. Hi, I need advice from you please!! I have my two girl that had babies, one had them in October and the male had access to her and the babies so I list a few in a couple hours, now he is in is own pen. My other girl had hers in November so the mother is in with her babies in each their own for the winter and have access outside during the day at night they come in…my question is “when can I introduce them all together” cause starting spring they are all over the homestead they have 10 acres to roam around…I tried already but the mother’s were starting to fight which they never did before…I had the two hens and the drake for over a year now and it’s my first time with babies I just really love my Muscovy so I don’t want them to get hurt and fight…
    And I loved reading your blog..thank you really helpful.

    1. I’ve never separated anyone, not even when they had babies. They should be just fine if you let them out especially if they have 10 acres!
      I say, let them out and just watch for a little bit. They might fight a few times but after a little bit they should be fine. Let me know.

  26. Hello my name is alana and i have a female miscovy duck that seems to be a bit aggressive to me now. I raised her since she was born. She was abandoned in a parking lot with not mother around. I raised her indoors but i would bring her outside to swim and walk freely but doesnt like when im out of her site sometimes. She starts geting aggressive when you walk past her and she snaps quick at your toes or leg. She dont like to be held or if i fix her limp wing( angel wing) . She is sweet when she wants to be but i wish i can get the aggressiveness out of her. Is there anything you could help with?

    1. Muscovies are pretty wild. I find that for the most part, they are slow and friendly but they still keep their guard and at the end of the day, they are smart and take care of themselves. Food always helps, maybe try to feed her from your hand and see if that’s getting her to trust you more.

  27. We just rescued a pair of Muscovy ducks
    1. How to tell male or female?
    2. Supposedly one of them was laying and since we’ve had them there has been no eggs and we have had them for about 2 weeks

    1. Are they adults? It’s easy to recognize the male from the female if they are adults. The male is almost twice as large as the female and has more red around their eyes.
      As far as laying, are they fenced or free-range? If they are free-ranging she might be hiding the eggs somewhere… If they are fenced then with most animals, major changes (like changing a place) can cause them to stop a usual behaviour like laying eggs. Sometimes it just takes them some time to adjust and relax. If she doesn’t start soon then maybe you need to check your feed. It might not be rich enough or you might not be feeding them enough.

  28. Jacqueline Reimer

    Greeting Lee.

    We have a Muscovy duck that just showed up in our neighborhood. I know one of my neighbors feeds her and I would like to feed her as well. So, my question is what is best to feed her I read up in her and I have seen chicken feed mention and it also mentions bread. I am sure chicken feed would be better but would feeding her bread on occasion be okay? I say her because after reading your explanation of male vs female I am sure it is a female.

    Thank for you great and informative website!

    1. Hi Jacqueline!
      If she free range you can trust that she is very capable of feeding herself and everything that you’d give her will be extra. I feed mine chicken feed (just the regular laying hens pallets) and all of our kitchen scraps. Bread is great, they love it. They also love whole corn!

      1. Jacqueline Reimer

        Hi Lee!
        I am not sure if she is free range because one day she just showed up. She has been staying around our ponds for a couple weeks and appears to be content here. I think she has been around people before because she walk toward me when she sees me. I will definitely take your food advice and will have food in hand the next time I see her!
        Thank you so much for your information!

  29. I have a backyard where a Muscovy has a nest. She is less than a year old (I know because she came by my yard each day with her mom prior to this….till 5 months old). She is sitting on her eggs now most of the time. There are 15 of them and they are 36 days old. Will they likely hatch? I wonder because the drake who made them with her is very old. He breaths heavy and has droopy caruncles….more so than the other. Does the age of the Drake affect the viability of the eggs? I should wait and see, I know but thought you may know something. thank you. Also, I do keep kosher but want to say that you need a shochet, a kosher butcher in order to make the meat kosher. Wonder if you know any in the Fort Lauderdale area. thanks again

    1. I lived in Delray Beach for 2 years! Beautiful area. I don’t know any Kosher shochet though. I love keeping traditions but I am not really religious… I don’t like all the rules humans put on everything 🙂
      Anyway, no way to know what’s in the eggs. You are just going to have to wait and see. Animals are very smart, trust her that she knows what she’s doing.

  30. Thank you so much for your article. I have 3 that are about 2 weeks old and love them. But I want to learn all I can about raising them. I am in Michigan!

    1. They are really simple and amazing ducks! Also, check out my YouTube channel for a video about them. Thanks for stopping by!

  31. Hi,
    We have chickens now. It’s really convenient that they put themselves to bed every night. I have plenty of land for my birds to free range, and I like seeing them so happy. We have a couple creeks, a small orchard, and I love the idea of muscovies, but I have young kids, and we’re occasionally out late past dark or otherwise busy with family stuff. Do the muscovies need to be “manually” put to bed each night like ducks? I’m trying to think up a solution.

    1. Absolutely not! They completely take care of themselves. I throw my Muscovies a couple of cups of feed in the morning (just so they get used to coming back to the same spot every day and so they get used to me), and that’s about all I do. They walk around, forage, swim, and put themselves to sleep. They sound perfect for you! They are really low maintenance.

  32. Great article full of information. I live in a Triad NC golf community with a long pond on far side of fairway. I contributed some muscovies several years ago and have replenished once. My source has since become unavailable. This year there been sufficient additions to the flock. For future reference, do you ever sell muscovies?

  33. I live in south Florida and there are many free-range Muscovy ducks. You mention that they only have about 10 or more eggs when they lay. Ducks here lay 20 or more and it is heartbreaking to see all those babies when she finally brings them out knowing that more than 1/2 of those sweet, little, vulnerable babies will be dead in the first week or so. I saw a crow pick one up and take it off and eat it.They also fall down drainage holes. They are also vulnerable to drivers. They go out into the street after a large rain and drink water. Cars just run over them. It is so sad. I wish I didn’t feel this close to them but I do. I guess my question is “is it normal to have so many babies?”

    1. What I meant is that the mama duck will start sitting on a nest when there are ten or more eggs in it. I had nests of 17 babies. Yes, it’s normal to have large nests like that. And unfortunately, even here in the country, it’s normal to lose something like 50% of the babies if the duck free range. They drown, get eaten by raccoons or many other animals, and so on. The only solution is to take them away from their mama and raise them in a brooder until they are old enough. I choose not to do it. It’s just how nature works.

    2. thats the way nature keeps the ball rolling by having large family’s but i also hate seeing the loss of young and i’m a guy

  34. Sharon Billings

    Great site! My friend has a male and female that have come to their pond (FL). The female laid eggs and hatched two ducklings. Will the ducklings be colored the same as the parents?
    Thank you!

    1. Probably not! They have so many colors and one nest can have babies of all colors. I don’t think that their colors have anything to do with their parents.

  35. Thank you for all of this helpful information. I have 2 Muscovy drakes about 5-6 months old. A female started visiting my home about 18 months ago and I fell in love. I haven’t seen her for awhile. I have a small pond and the boys love it.

  36. thanks for your info i was wondering when is the best time to butcher young muskys while they have down feathers or regular feathers and can i use a plucker

    1. When they are fully grown which means that they will have their feathers. I find that they are ready for butchering around 3-4 months but can go a little longer as well. Search the blog for “how to butcher a duck”. I have a step by step tutorial on how and when to do it.

  37. In South Florida people are cruel to the Muscovy ducks. They say they’re an invasive species even though they have been here for a couple hundred years. The Florida Wildlife associations do not protect or provide care for injured ones as they do for other birds. People take it on their own to kill them. It is very sad to see this treatment. They’re beautiful and gentle birds. I love that they eat the insects from my yard. I love watching what good mothers they are. However, I think you have an error in you article. From my observations the mother stays with the ducklings for about ten weeks. Then she starts leaving them, but still checks in from time to time in the next several weeks thereafter. The ducklings cannot fly until a few months old.

    1. That’s sad. They are really great birds. It’s hard to come by an animal that literally takes no effort from a homesteader yet gives back so much. They are a vital part of my homestead and, honestly, my personal well-being. It was a nightmare working or sitting outside on the porch before I started raising them (because of the mosquitos and flies).
      I might need to update a few things in the article. I’ll take a look. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Leonard Sarikey Kaptigau

        Hi Lee, thanks for this information paper on the Muscovy ducks. I am Leonard from Papua New Guinea. I love Muscovy ducks. For your information, I am now planning to raise 5,000 Muscovy hens and 1,666 drakes using the mating ratio of 1:3, one drake to three hens. If you are close to Papua New Guinea I will have you visit my project and provide some basic assistance. After reading your article I see you as an experienced person in Muscovy ducks and thank you again for the great information.

  38. fiona helen downes

    can i see pictures of the ponds or swimming areas.

    I currently have a childs plastic pool with a step for him to get out by.

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