Free Range Muscovies Stopped Laying


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 22, 2013
Oregon, IL
We have had our 8 muscovies (2 drakes - one 2 years old and the other 2 months old, and 6 hens) for 8 days now. We are in love! The first four days there were a few eggs, and the past four days there hasn't been a single egg. They are supposed to free range during the day, but we herd them out of their pen, and they just sit close to the pen hoping to get back into the pen. The big drake (Col. Sanders) even comes to check the pen door several times a day to see if they can get back into it yet. The lady we purchased them from was an organic farmer who said to only give them oats at night and let them find their own protein through bugs, slugs, etc. during the day. We do see them eating grass and bugs, but they have still completely stopped laying.

Are we doing something wrong? Should we be supplementing protein at night? If so, what's a good, organic way to get them some additional protein? We really do want them to learn to free range and get a little braver. Suggestions appreciated. We are completely ignorant.

Also, how many eggs should we be getting from 6 hens?
We have had them for over three weeks now and still no eggs. They do venture all over the yard, but we keep an eye on where they go. Anyone have any suggestions at all?

Well, could be a few things, changes being one that'll set off a laying rest, next anyone looking a bit ragged, perhaps many feathers falling? moulting is starting about now, i have a few who are so laying slows off or ceases during this.

Now, varying methods BUT i prefer to feed my 'scovies a complete feed and then leave them to forage for extras, this way i ensure they get all they need, weather varies a lot here, for instance set to hit 24C today whereas on the weekend we snowed! i also leave out free choice oyster shell to ensure the ladies get all the calcium they need, i choose not to feed layer as i have drakes and some young again lol

I have 8 of laying age, one is brooding a nest though.. some days i get all 7 to lay, others not so much, while they can lay an egg a day they don't always PLUS trust me they are a sneaky bunch and may have hidden eggs somewhere, they are real good at this!
Thanks so much for the advice! We do have 6 + acres, but they only roam about two of those, and usually under the same sets of trees, on the driveway, and in the front yard... Would they be returning to the places they've laid eggs before to brood?

What is the complete feed you give them? Right now I've been giving them a mixture of 50/50 layer feed and oats and about 2 tablespoons of oyster shells and 1 tablespoon of diatomaceous earth. They just get this at night, but they eat a lot of grass, bugs, and slugs from the yard during the day. They also get veggie scraps from the compost pile as they like. I could feed them twice. They spend the whole night in their pen and building. It's a small buiding, and when they were laying they were laying in there. I would think that's the safest place to lay, but I'm not a duck.

Thanks again for responding!
Leave the pen open , they will wander in and out at will .Muscovy's will lay one egg every day till she's satisfied she has enough , and start sitting . 35 day's latter baby ducks.
Sounds similar to mine they wander in specific areas of the property BUT the back field isn't cut(were a tractor down right now) so it's best they don't wander back there.

I use a grower formula by Purina, it's 15% protein, i leave it out 24/7 it's in the main penned area surrounding the barn and inside via hanging feeder, this covers 14 of them ranging from 9wks old up to a few years... they are let loose all day to find whatever, i will add grains now & then, last week it was oats, this week some rolled/cracked corn.

I don't use layer because i have drakes, some debate on the high calcium levels for them plus it's no good for young(which are here too) the oyster shell is out though, it's free choice in a small rubber livestock bowl, since the ladies do need the supplement. I also have some grit on the ground by their barn, "technically" they should find enough but i need it for the chickens so i figure does no harm ensuring the ducks get what they need, they do use it now & again too, especially the young who are only just stepping past the pen lol

Most of mine have laid by morning BUT i have also found some hiding spots, one under a tarp of covered wood, side of my house and the other under a piece of tractor equipment, yet they can and have brooded young in their barn, ducks are funny creatures and 'scovies are real good at hiding eggs, i've had to break several broodies this year already and relented with two.

Change and ducks effects stuff like that, i'd give it a bit and see you've changed their home, space they roam and the feeding, that is a lot so bound to back the laying off it'll likely resume when they settle in. I got 3 ducks a few years ago as 6/7mth olds, they didn't lay till the following year but they had been kept in a barn(the breeder had a coyote problem) and fed nothing but cracked corn, so they had a lot of change, they have gone on to lay and produce young, so it happens just sometimes takes more time due to the changes.
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Thanks for your detailed response. This helps more than I can say. We'll just be patient. We've made them a day area across the yard under some shade trees where their pool, drinking water, and food will be. Maybe that'll make hunting for eggs a little less challenging. We've been wanting them to free range as much as possible, but it's so hard to figure out how much food they're taking in because of the free-ranging. I know they seem ravenous when we feed them at 6 PM, but they also know that food time is "come back to the pen" time.

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