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Some Muscovy Breeding Questions

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone! I've been lurking on and off for the years that I had not started raising poultry of my own (and lived vicariously through here) but this last year, I finally had the time to tinker with some. Long story short, I now have four Muscovies and I absolutely love them (especially how quiet, less messy, and better pest control they are when compared to the two pekins and one Cayuga that I had, unfortunately, lost to some sort of predator after moving to our new house a few months ago.)

Anyway, because we lost the other ducks shortly after dusk, I no longer felt comfortable letting them free range during the day since even though they go back to their coop (not sure how they learned to do that) when the sun is going down by themselves, sometimes I make it home a little later than that, and it's on those days that I found my mallard ducks missing. I decided to pen them in and build a run.

My first question is am I providing enough space for them during breeding time and how it will work when they hatch ducklings next year? I have a drake and three girls, all adults when I got them but under a year old. I originally only wanted girls for eggs, but then friends and family were asking for them for next year and none of us knew if the seller would have any next year so I quickly got a boy just in case.

Their coop is a shed that's 5ft x 10ft and their run is 8ft by 8ft connected to the coop. I've been reading that the girls will get aggressive towards each other when they start setting the eggs and when they hatch out their ducklings so will I need to get another pen/coop ready to separate them when they start setting on the eggs or are nest boxes enough for them to not see each other and leave each other alone? What happens to the drake when all the girls just completely ignore him?

My second question is whether or not I need to provide a pool for them to bathe in when they are hatching their eggs so they can regulate their humidity for the eggs better? Right now I just have several buckets that they can dunk their heads in because they always turned their kiddy pool into a stinking brew within a few hours of me refilling it and I had to do it every few hours.

3. If I take the ducklings away from the mothers after they fluff out, will Muscovy ducklings still imprint on the human taking care of them (some people who were interested wanted them as pets)? I'm not even sure how I would do that, because they don't quack. With my week old pekin ducklings, I sat with them, quacked like ten times, and they just started following me. I could herd them around, even as adults, just by quacking at them and they'd follow me.

4. Also, if I don't want the females to lay any more eggs, can I just leave one or two ducklings with each of them to mother on? Will the drake kill the ducklings in that space?

5. Are first time Muscovy moms bad at hatching and rearing? How much help should I expect to give her.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!
post #2 of 5

The best test for “is it big enough?” is: does it stink? If it does, it's either too small, or you don't clean it often enough. As a rule of thumb, they say 5 square feet inside (for the night) and, I think, ten square feet outside. So, you're providing enough space for the ducks themselves. However, for ducklings, it might benefit from being a little bigger. Bigger is always better.

 

I always separate my females while they have babies. Other females can peck the ducklings, and the drake can sometimes even kill them.

 

When incubating, my females always have baths at least once or twice during the 35-day period. However, one female who had no access to a tub, only a bucket, also successfully hatched her eggs. I'd say bathing water is optimal, but the bucket should be sufficient as long as she can splash her whole body.

 

#3 I'm not sure on that. Hopefully someone else can answer your question.

 

#4 I'm not sure what you mean here. Some Muscovy drakes will kill any ducklings in their area; mine only pecked them. The mothers won't care if they have two or twenty ducklings; ducks can't count. However, you'd better off not hatching just one; the duckling will be lonely.

 

#5 – One of our first time mothers was horrible. She moved her nest about five times, pooped in it, and wasn't very dedicated. But our other first-timers were excellent. Muscovies are usually very good mothers. You probably don't need to help much, if at all. Just put some water and food fairly near the nest and let her set. You should candle the eggs a few times to be sure she's not sitting on dead or rotten eggs.

My happy, beloved little Muscovy flock: Captain, King, BB (Big Boy), Creamy, Daphne, Lilac, Moon, Meg, Ivy, Gracie, Whisper, Star, Hope, Lucky, Sweet Pea, Joy, Snow, Skylar, Misty, Kiwi Jr., Coffee, Peaches, Amiga, Chippy, and Cola.

 

My website: www.raising-ducks.com

My Instagram: www.instagram.com/backyardjungle04/

Reply

My happy, beloved little Muscovy flock: Captain, King, BB (Big Boy), Creamy, Daphne, Lilac, Moon, Meg, Ivy, Gracie, Whisper, Star, Hope, Lucky, Sweet Pea, Joy, Snow, Skylar, Misty, Kiwi Jr., Coffee, Peaches, Amiga, Chippy, and Cola.

 

My website: www.raising-ducks.com

My Instagram: www.instagram.com/backyardjungle04/

Reply
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the help!

How do you separate them during breeding season? Do you have a separate pen or coop for each of the setting mothers? Or do you just pen her off inside the coop?

Also, if they are in a fully enclosed coop and run, will they just pick a spot to make a nest? How do they feel about being disturbed, since I will go in and out to feed/clean them. Do you keep an incubator on hand just in case for some reason one abandons her nest?

And they are currently on layer feed because I had 150lbs leftover--should I just feed regular maintenance or is layer a good idea during breeding season?

For #4 I meant because other people will be taking most of the ducklings away from the mom after she hatches them, and I don't want a bajillion ducks, if I let each of the mothers who ended up having ducklings keep two or so ducklings, theoretically it should prevent her from making and hatching another clutch, right?

P.s. Thankfully the don't smell at all. I clean it maybe once a week if even that. I was surprised because the mallard types I had and the chickens I was given smelled terribly, and had to clean almost daily to keep the smell down.
Edited by jofanx - 10/31/15 at 8:55am
post #4 of 5

How do you separate them during breeding season? Do you have a separate pen or coop for each of the setting mothers? Or do you just pen her off inside the coop?

 

I have two pens. Most of the time, I have half in one pen and half in the other (mobile pens – they're free range for the day). When a duck is brooding, I put her alone in the pen. I rarely have more than one mom setting. Right now I have none setting. I only hatch once or twice a year.

Also, if they are in a fully enclosed coop and run, will they just pick a spot to make a nest? How do they feel about being disturbed, since I will go in and out to feed/clean them. Do you keep an incubator on hand just in case for some reason one abandons her nest?

 

Usually they will pick their own spot for a nest, yes, but if there are nests around they will often choose the nest. They get pretty mad if you bother them, and I've gotten big bruises while trying to get eggs from under a mom while candling. If they're in a nest, they won't get too bothered while you clean the coop. I used to not have an incubator, but after an emergency where a mother died on her clutch, I bought an incubator.

And they are currently on layer feed because I had 150lbs leftover--should I just feed regular maintenance or is layer a good idea during breeding season?

 

They'll both work, I think...but I don't feed commercial feed at all, so I'm not an expert on which type of commercial feed is best.

For #4 I meant because other people will be taking most of the ducklings away from the mom after she hatches them, and I don't want a bajillion ducks, if I let each of the mothers who ended up having ducklings keep two or so ducklings, theoretically it should prevent her from making and hatching another clutch, right?

 

Nope, sorry. After the ducklings are independent (about two months old) or sold, she'll either go back to life with the flock or go broody again. But you can break her broodiness if you don't want her to set again.

My happy, beloved little Muscovy flock: Captain, King, BB (Big Boy), Creamy, Daphne, Lilac, Moon, Meg, Ivy, Gracie, Whisper, Star, Hope, Lucky, Sweet Pea, Joy, Snow, Skylar, Misty, Kiwi Jr., Coffee, Peaches, Amiga, Chippy, and Cola.

 

My website: www.raising-ducks.com

My Instagram: www.instagram.com/backyardjungle04/

Reply

My happy, beloved little Muscovy flock: Captain, King, BB (Big Boy), Creamy, Daphne, Lilac, Moon, Meg, Ivy, Gracie, Whisper, Star, Hope, Lucky, Sweet Pea, Joy, Snow, Skylar, Misty, Kiwi Jr., Coffee, Peaches, Amiga, Chippy, and Cola.

 

My website: www.raising-ducks.com

My Instagram: www.instagram.com/backyardjungle04/

Reply
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Oh boy, I'll look forward to jousting with a momma duck then. Thank you so much for the helpful information. I love these guys and won't ever mess with chickens or other type of ducks again!
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