new muscovy owner (soon to be, hopefully)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by triplepurpose, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 13, 2008
    Hi everyone!

    I've kept chickens for years but I'm also now planning to get some muscovy ducklings next week. I am planning on getting about half a dozen and keeping one drake on three hens, ideally, so that I can breed them. I want them lay a few eggs for eating, and to hatch babies, so that I can raise the off-spring for home-slaughtering. I thought it would be best to rais them from ducklings, so they get used to us and used to their new home. But I want to start small so I don't get in over my head--I've heard they reproduce prolifically!

    I plan on building them a three-sided shelter out of used pallets and scrap wood, with poultry wire accross the front side. Big enough to house the babies and have a feed tray, a water dish, and small tub or kiddie pool for them to bathe in. I have some old chicken nest boxes I could put in there for them to lay and hatch in too. (I'm in Hawaii, so I don't have to worry about cold weather protection or anything.) The idea is that I could keep them in that pen when I need to, but I envision them free ranging much of time--I plan to put this pen near a water spigot on a area surrounded by orchard, including a some banana groves, a grassy field, and a garden that has mostly hardy root crops in mulched beds, like taro, cassava, and sweetpotatoes, or things like squash, field beans, and papaya trees--all of which the ducks would have access to (that is, nothing is fenced).

    Does it seem like I'm on the right track? How far will they range? Will they try to eat bean and squash seedlings (they can't eat taro or cassava, both of which are toxic raw [​IMG] ). I've heard they don't scratch like chickens, but will they disturb the soil, or mulch, or plants, a lot in some other way? Will they hatch eggs in the pen, or do they prefer to go off into the bushes the way the less tame chicken breeds do? What about keeping the drake with the babies? What's the best thing to feed them? Can I use the same organic feed mix I give to the chickens, assuming they also have access to forage (that would be ideal)? They can also have vegetable scraps, fruit, greens, etc from our farm. And if I'm hatching, should I be concerned about inbreeding at some point? If so, how can I avoid this?

    I can make some very basic assumptions about fowl in general, based on chicken keeping, but ducks in particular are totally new to me! Any advice is much appreciated! In the meantime, I'll keep on reading up... [​IMG]

    Sorry for the ridiculous amount of questions! But thanks for the help!

    Sky
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  2. Wulfandwyn

    Wulfandwyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have three juvenile muscovies and they love to eat everything they can reach in my garden. When they were little they would swim in the dog water bowl then I upgraded
    to a kiddie pool.
     
  3. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

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    If its green, they will either eat it, nibble on it to taste it, or trample it to death. The ducks only get to play in my garden area AFTER the growing season. Then they have free reign. They will eat bugs, bug eggs, weeds, weed seeds, etc... as well as give you free fertilizer. I ban them back to their pen about a week before I want to plant in spring.
     
  4. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the input!

    Although, to put this in context, I find it hard to imagine that having a handful of ducks--I'm only getting a few--in this particular garden would be worse than the wild chickens (jungle fowl) that are already trashing it. I'm trying to trap them, and lay down heavier mulch so that they can't throw it around and dig holes that expose the roots. I figure at least ducks don't scratch. Or am I missing something?? [​IMG]
    Will they still try to devour bitter tasting or semi-edible greenery like cassava leaves and squash vines in the garden if given a whole lawn of grass and plenty of fresh green veggies? Most of the stuff I plant in there is pretty hardy--we're not talking scallions and lettuce--the only animal I know that can kill a sweetpotato or cassava plant is wild pigs digging them up (god forbid). [​IMG] I can feed them all the leftover lettuce, kale, chard, etc that they can eat in their pen... (we have a 50 member CSA and always plenty of greens leftover). But please, let me know if you think I'm doing something dumb... I'd rather know now than later, of course! [​IMG]
     
  5. Wulfandwyn

    Wulfandwyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't say on cassava but I had planted some winter squash and the ducks ripped the squash off the vine and ate it and then trampled the vines and the same with my bean plants fortunately I was able to relocate my strawberry plants before they were completely devoured. This is my first experience with muscovies so I can't give much advice on the rest of your questions, but they are awfully cute [​IMG]
     
  6. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I know, I love the look of them, and the ones I've seen seem very sweet-natured. Also, there are some available LOCALLY too, and possibly free, which is something to DEFINITELY NOT take for granted when you live on a small island in the middle of the world's biggest ocean!

    Ouch about your squash! Well, I may make a bigger pen then, and try to keep them contained--or at least make sure I have the option ready if they get rowdy. [​IMG] I would love to have them freeranging though... [​IMG] For a while we let some of our chickens freerange, which worked great for a time, when they just stuck around in the orchard near their pen--they loved running around in the orchard and the bananas, and it was nice to see them out in the grass and the bushes. But eventually they started roaming farther afield and into the gardens, tearing up the plantings around the house, etc. and we kept them penned permanently after that, although they do have a big covered run with deep litter and two small pastures we rotate. But I love the aesthetic and the wholistic nature of freeranging livestock on a farm--I've just yet to figure out how to make it work for my situation... I've used a chicken tractor some, but it's not the same at all.

    What about letting them out only occasionally, I wonder? Or letting them out late in the day--are they like chickens, in that they won't wander as far late in the day? Has anyone tried this--or some other techniques of managing free-ranging ducks?
     
  7. Czech's_chicks

    Czech's_chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hey don't scratch, but the filter, which leave little deep holes every where. BUT they are quiet.
     

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