Been a member on here for a while, just never post. I've been raising meat birds for the past 4 years and this year I ordered a few muscovies with my order of chicks. i have over a month before i get them so i have time to figure out what i need to do differently for them. i plan on having a separate brooder for the ducks, I've read they can be messy. how long do muscovies take to reach processing size? can i put them in the tractor with the meat birds or should i give them their own pen? i wouldn't put them together until after the chicks are off the medicated feed. thanks for any help!
meat birds and ducks?
This is my second year raising ducks. I almost didn't do it a second time because they were so messy and so much work the first time. However, I've designed a new brooder and 8 days in, think it is going to cut the cleaning time by about 75%.
Ducks are very messy. They need water at all times but they splash it all over the place. With 7 1 week old ducks I'm filling the gallon waterer three times a day. Plus they need to moisten their feed so they get lots of feed in the water as well as soggy piles of feed all over the bottom fo the brooder. Add to that the pooping capacity of meat chickens and you'll understand that I was mucking out the brooder multiple times during the day.
With my new setup, I purchased a 3'X3' shower pan from the Restore (Habitat for Humanity's thrift shop) for $35. I put a kitchen sink strainer in the drain and set it up on blocks,stuck a Rubbermaid pan underneath and zip-tied panels from a big dog crate around the outside. A little over half of the enclosure I considered the "wet area". I put down some of that waffle weave rubber shelf liner on the wet side and put the food and water over there. On the "dry side" I put down a "Assurance underpad" (they were a gag gift to my husband on his 60th birthday) they are 23"X36" absorbant sheets with a plastic backing made to protect your furniture from guests with bladder problems. I put several layers of paper towels over the pad and separated the two sections with a strip of 1"X4" scrap lumber.
So far I've found it necessary to change out the paper towel twice a day (morning and evening) and have pulled up the entire under pad twice in a week. The wet side requires me to dump the pan under the drain about every other day and twice I've pulled up the rubber shelf liner, rinsed off all the gunk, squeeged the rest down the drain and put back the clean liner. It may sound like a lot of work but is so much easier than trying to keep a more basic brooder clean and dry.
I expanded the dry area when they were a week old, using wood pallets to raise the expanded area to the height of the shower pan. It is working kwell so far. After I clean it this morning I'll take a few photos.
Ok first muscovies are not like mallard derived domestic ducks. Secondly the are still ducks. Ducks from my experience ducks don't like chickens and the feeling is mutual. Seperate them after 4 weeks.
I don't know your situation but I found ducks are resentful of confinement but are expert squatters. Like stray cats, if you feed and are kind to them they never really leave but if you lock them in a crate they will run away and never return the first chance they get. Mine could fly away if they really wanted. No clipped wings. But they don't and never have. Closest call was spring mating where the girls flew laps around the house and shed for a couple days in a row. The male was too big to get more than 6 feet high. They tame pretty easy if you put the time in.
I got mine as hatchlings from a friend on thanks giving day. So they had no "swimming pool" until May because WI winters are so cold that we drive trucks onto lakes because the ice is thick enough to support the wieght of hundreds of people and their trucks. So open water other than for drinking purposes is unnessessary in the brooder. IMO That said refer back to my second point about them being ducks. They love water. They are so happy to play, spash, spill, and make wet sloppy messes. So eventually a kiddy pool is a must. Preferably place the pool under a fruit tree. The water and duck manure help make better fruit each time you change out the water. Another thing to keep in mind is that Muscovies are the wood ducks from the central america. They are totally comfortable roosting and will do so if allowed to. Mine roost on the shed rafters. Also consider that muscovies are naturally more carnivous than the mallards. They love minnows, snails, and other small critters. They skim the mosquito larva out of the water and leave the algae where the mallards skim the algae and leave alot of mosquito larva. Speaking of mosquitos, you will really short change the muscovie if they are confined. They are my best foragers on the farm. I haven't fed mine for several years now during the summer because the mash would dampen from dew and mold before they ate it. They never missed the mash. They were usually passed out from worms and or bugs by 8 am. only to do the same right before dusk. All in all great critters to have on the farm. The boys all turn into frat boy bullies so eat them at like 4-5 months. The girls are good layers of extra jumbo eggs so maybe worth hanging onto a few. Also they will brood. Oh yeah you'll know by week 3 who is a what. The boys out grow the girls but the girls get their flight feathers first. Good luck.
Edited by SJ - 4/2/16 at 8:23pm