Muscovy care - living on a river

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Wouldrathersail, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. Wouldrathersail

    Wouldrathersail New Egg

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    Dec 28, 2016
    Annapolis, Md
    Hello everyone, I'm a long-time lurker here and this is my first post. I've wanted chickens for a very long time but due to living situation I think Muscovy s may be a better choice. Here's what's going on Long post and I hope everybody reads through and can give me some good advice thanks in advance
    My husband and I live aboard a boat on a creek off a river on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We've wanted fresh poultry mostly for eggs and also to be honest just for the fun of it. Meat is not a priority, but maybe a bonus byproduct of this endeavor. We have access to a lot of Shoreline and from what I understand muscovies are more waterfowl than ducks? I've seen lots of information about what is needed for a chicken coop but what about duck coops? Ideally I would like to be able to keep them secure at night, we do have raccoons in the area, but also let them access the property during the daytime to free range. That free range also would include free access to nearly unlimited water, which also makes me question the free-range, would they just swim /fly off?
    Another question I'm wondering about is we have lots of native species here, blue herons, wild mallards, winter wild ducks, cormorants and buffelheads,and geese that pass through. None of them are nesting on the property except the herons . We don't want to interfere with their nesting habits and don't know if introducing a group of muscovy s would upset the balance. Ideally we'd like to keep the flock small, 6 maybe? from what I understand muscovies are fairly proficient breeders?
    Anyway this is the start of the questions to see if this really is feasible or not. All advice is appreciated thanks so much!
     
  2. PINOAK RIDGE

    PINOAK RIDGE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 6, 2016
    Tennessee
    Welcome to posting on BYC! [​IMG]

    Not sure what you mean by "muscovies are more waterfowl than ducks." I often describe them to folks as a combination of chicken, duck and goose habits and behaviors. Muscovies, in my experience, are not the most water loving of duck breeds. They will bathe, breed and dibble in water, but then spend the majority of time on dry land.

    Muscovies, even huge males are excellent flyers. It may be challenging for you to condition them to go into a pen or enclosure for safety at night. Muscovies can even roost like chickens, so they may prefer to perch in a tree rather than a pen. If you are going to try this endeavor, I would recommend raising them in this pen and as they mature, feeding them in the pen in the late afternoon, to condition them to equating the pen with food. Hopefully, thru repetition and their love of food, you will be able to coax them back into the pen in the late afternoon for their safety. It is possible that they would prefer freedom over domestication. They would be well equipped to either swim or fly away, if they choose.

    Muscovies tend to be seasonal layers and excellent mothers. Moms can hatch off large broods and ducklings grow quickly. Hence, if you want eggs for eating be sure to gather them regularly. About 90% of ducks lay before 8am, so hopefully they will lay in pen, before you turn them out to forage. Eggs are pretty large.

    If you do not have wild ducks nesting in your area, just herons, my first question is why not. ??? Too many predators? Large fish that swallow ducklings whole? Sounds like the environment should have ample food stuffs, with migratory birds stopping over. Usually if the "neighborhood" is a good one, there will be wild ducks there. Hmm...

    One other thing you may wish to check on, since you live on a creek and want to free range your ducks. May check with local and state USFW, DNR or etc to make sure you aren't required to have a permit. I wouldn't think so, in your area, but nowadays there are so many new rules and regulations that it's difficult enough to keep up with one's own state R & R, much less 50 different states. Muscovies can be a nuisance breed in some areas & they will cross breed with other breeds of ducks. Of course, the resulting offspring will be "mules" but if this hybridizing does occur, it can negatively impact the wild breeds. Mallards and American black ducks quickly come to mind.

    Hope this helps. Good luck & enjoy your future ducks.
     
  3. Wouldrathersail

    Wouldrathersail New Egg

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    Dec 28, 2016
    Annapolis, Md
     
  4. PINOAK RIDGE

    PINOAK RIDGE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 6, 2016
    Tennessee
    Oh ok. So there are ducks that nest in the area. That's a good sign. [​IMG] Technically, your ducks would be eating many of the same food stuffs as the wild ducks, but sounds like the environment may be able to sustain both.

    Your pen could be as simple as dog kennel panels. These are easy to take apart, rearrange and relocate, if you wish. Plus they retain their value for resale. You can place a couple feet of hardware cloth or welded wire from the ground up to prevent babies from crawling thru fence squares. This will also help keep predators from squeezing thru the wire. There are several options for a top. Could use flight netting, shade cloth, tarp or etc. Would keep your ducks from flying out & can help keep some predators out. You would need to either provide a house/shed or a wire floor in the pen, otherwise predators could just dig under the fence. You could also opt to build a little shed or a permanent style "chicken house and run". We do not recommend using chicken wire, as it can rust in just one season. Plus, chicken wire will not protect against predators. Even small predators like opossums, skunks and raccoons can easily tear thru chicken wire. Dogs and other larger animals will go thru it as well.

    Actually, often muscovies will use roosting poles, but they can also be content to lay on straw or other bedding on floor, like other breeds of ducks. Yes, you can supply some nesting boxes for the girls. Many people do make nice roomy nest boxes and elevate them, to make it easier to gather eggs. Designed like a feed trough or bench with nest boxes every so many feet. This allows duck to fly or climb onto platform and not directly into box, on the eggs. Just be sure to provide several inches on sides, I like to use 12", so the eggs don't roll out, but 8" would probably suffice. Muscovies often incubate many eggs, even a couple layers deep. Several years ago, one of our muscovy girls successfully hatched 37 eggs (there were multiple egg donors in her nest) & they were stacked 3 high! I was afraid they would all be ruined, as I didn't think all the eggs would get the proper temperature. Just knew the bottom ones would become chilled, die and she would rotate the eggs and all would end up lost, but I was wrong. She hatched every one of those eggs much to my amazement! Or if you don't mind stooping over, you can make nesting areas on floor. Some folks use old tires, stuffed with straw--just be sure to stuff the inside part, where the air tube would have been, so eggs can't roll into it and ruin. Can use dog houses, dog travel kennels, boxes and etc. It can be as simple or as fancy as you like. I like to shoot for practical and efficient. [​IMG]

    Feel free to PM anytime. I don't "live online" like many people do, but I do try to check in here at least weekly. If you need to reach me sooner, feel free to add me as a friend on facebook PINOAK RIDGE in Tennessee, avatar is a black & white Katahdin (hair sheep) lamb. I try to check fb messages daily, in case of emergencies.
     

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