Originally Posted by triplepurpose
We've raised muscovies for several years now. we keep a breeding pair and she hatches and raises the ducklings. they almost always ars free ranging through yard and orchard and eat a lot of grass, weeds, insects, etc. we feed regular chicken feed, sometimes cull garden grrens and overripe bananas (from our farm). they have a couple of small tubs that they can bathe in and drink out of, since we have no natiral water features. they are super cute and amusing ducks as well as useful.
the ducklings are slaughtered at around three months old--younger and there is almost no breast meat, older and their growth slows dramatically. males typically dress out at around 5 pounds or a little more, females at around 3 and a half if i recall--its been a while since i weighed any.
they are absolutely delicious. meat is dark, almost a red meat, and the fat is golden and succulent. but they are kind of a hassle to pluck and clean.
we kill by decapitation. i do not recommend any of the standard poultry methods: the "kosher method" will not kill a musvovy humanely at all (learned from others mistakes, not my own) and cervical dislocation would be extremely difficult as their necks are so muscular. we hold them by the wings usually, loop a small noose around the neck and then stretch slightly over a chopping block and give a good hard swing with a very sharp machete. we then promptly grasp the neck and direct the flow of blood from the arteries into a container, to save for recipes. they are penned up and "starved" overnight before slaughter to avoid getting wet, runny duck poop all over the carcass--i do not recommend overlooking this step, tho you might get away with it in a pinch!
to pluck, they can be dunked in scalding water like a chicken but you have to work at it a bit more. it is almost impossible to pluck every last downy feather, so we singe the smallest ones off with a propane weed torch.
adult muscovies can fly, but ducklings cannot until around slaughter age. however, in my ecperience, they resent being penned anyway. i wouldnt really recommend them unless you have the room to free range, because they would eat a lot more otherwise and quickly foul a small pen without good management. they seem ideal for meat production for the homestead with lots of room, as they can be largely self-reliant in that kind of situation. they are pretty mellow and quiet, but good foragers and can be great mothers. they have a delightfully quirky and intelligent personality. they naturally grow as quickly as freedom ranger type chickens but are much tastier.
we will probably be phasing ours out soon though, because they keep getting into the gardens recently and becoming a nuisance.
ours were not any special variety, just some mixed black and white ones we got locally for free. i dont think sourcing particular breeds of muscovy is particularly useful--they have not been selectively breed as intensively as other poultry or waterfowl anyway, and that is one of their advantages. for most homestead type situations i would simply recommend the hardy local landrace stock for utility purposes.