New to Muscovies... They kinda scare me!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by TrueStockFarms, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. TrueStockFarms

    TrueStockFarms Just Hatched

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    I have heard a lot of hype about the breed so yesterday I bought my first pair of adult muscovy ducks. They are beautiful birds although I find their faces a little strange they are still intriguing. I brought them home in a crate along with other ducks but was told to be careful letting them out because they can fly. So I herded the flightless ducks out of the crate and left the Muscovies in there. They began to clime the walls of the crate!!!! I have never seen a duck that could clime so well! I let them out in my small open air coop and they were rightfully stressed from the recent truck ride and they both spread their wings and WOW they are big! These birds honestly freaked me out a little bit! Haha I have never seen such a strange duck! I am hoping that they can be free-range on my farm. I understand that they can fly and are tree nesters but I'm just looking for some more opinions on them. Can I trust them to come back if they are free-range? I am hoping that they will nest in a high nesting box in my coop but I am wondering if they will seek the trees lining my property or even the loft in my barn. I would be ok with them nesting in my loft. Should I set up a certain type of nesting box in the loft so that they are attracted to it? Any advice is welcome! I know very little about the breed so I will be doing more of my own research also.
     
  2. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay... I'll try to break this down. I love Muscovies, but I didn't get any because a) their meat wasn't "typical" duck meat, and b) they didn't lay many eggs.

    Their red blotchy spots are called caruncles, and females have far fewer than males. They don't get sex feathers and females are much smaller than males.
    Yes, Muscovies CAN fly AND climb. Their claws are also sharper, so be careful to immobilize their legs when handling them. To prevent flying, trim their outermost primary flight feathers with sciccors (leave the outside one on, for a more "balanced" look. I think you cut 9-12? I'm not sure exactly how many there are. Search up "duck wing clipping".
    If they can fly, they will seek trees. You should prevent this so make sure you fence them in. If they free range, that's fine, but still fence in ducklings and keep broodies safe. They might fly off but it's unlikely, if they are safe, well cared for, and fed.
     
  3. HannahDuckLover

    HannahDuckLover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can’t let them free-range immediately. They don’t know this is their home (especially since they’re adults), so they’ll either fly away or walk away…and ultimately die.

    When I got my Muscovies, I had them in a portable coop/run for I think a month. After a while I started letting them out under supervision, for short periods of time. They never went more than about 30 feet from the pen, and we locked them up again after an hour or two. Eventually their “outings” became all morning, and now it is all day. They wander on the property wherever they like (except the pond; we taught them to stay out of it because it’s dangerous), but they stay fairly near the house. Of course, we still lock them up at night to keep them safe.

    So once you teach them where the food and water are, you may be able to gradually let them free-range on your property. But keep an eye on them, especially at first.

    I’ve never had much experience with flying ducks, so I can’t tell you whether they’ll lay in the trees and high nests. But they likely will at least perch in the trees. My ducks lay on the ground and don't mind at all. They are wonderfully adept at hiding their nests, though.

    I clip my Muscovies’ wings. After a bad experience with one of my beautiful females flying away and never coming back, I decided never to take the risk again. Some people’s ducks don’t fly away, but you never know, they might just stretch their wings…and decide it’s fun to fly…and fly…and fly…and look back and realize they’re gone…and they don’t know how to get back…they’re lost. So I don't recommend leaving them unclipped, especially if you have forest nearby for them to get lost in.

    Here's how to clip a duck's wings:

    [​IMG]

    Also, you mentioned you brought a pair home with other ducks? The Muscovy male will mate females of other breeds, so if you breed them, you might end up with sterile, nonfertile offspring.

    Welshies: what’s wrong with atypical duck meat? I love it! It tastes something like veal and we’re having some tonight. (And they actually lay more eggs than we need. But then, we have 18 laying girls.) I’m not saying you’re wrong for not choosing Muscovies; I like Welsh Harlequins better myself.
     
  4. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What's veal? And it's just that we're from Alberta and I come from long generations of hunters (some duck hunters, please nobody bash me for this; let's all appreciate our diverse cultures). To keep my family happy (they don't like my ducks 'unless they get meat AND eggs') and although I've never tried Muscovy, they really like the lean, home raised dark "duck" meat.
     
  5. HannahDuckLover

    HannahDuckLover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Veal comes from calves. Like beef, I guess, only from a younger cow. Personally I don’t think Muscovy meat tastes much like beef, but that’s what some people think.

    I always read that “normal” duck meat was fatty, and Muscovy is extremely lean and dark. Never had a “normal” duck so can’t compare from experience.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
  6. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, "normal" duck, is usually fatty. But home-raised, and skinned, it's very lean, somewhat like wild game bird, or rabbit.
     
  7. Gray Farms

    Gray Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never heard of Muscovys nesting in trees?? I've raised them for nearly 20 years and have never seen/or heard of one nesting in a tree. The do like to fly!! Even the big drakes can get off the ground, and the hens can soar like eagles. Clipping the wings will stop it if you don't want them to fly. They will also wander if they are not fenced in. You'd be surprised how far they will walk if left unsupervised. I personally had a hen get out and fly off once. She was spotted in the area "with in 3 miles" several times but I was never able to catch her. Finally she came home about 3 years later. Don't let them free range right off, keep them penned up for a few months so that they learn that this is the new home. Muscovys will typically find their own nesting spots, someplace quiet, dark, and secluded. About the time you think something got her, here she'll come with babies in tow. The best nests I have ever found to offer them are the medium sized, two piece dog houses. Separate the halves and put the open side down. Muscovys prefer something low to the ground and dark. They are excellent pest removers as well and will eat almost anything. Including but not limited to flies and grasshoppers "or any bug for that matter", mice, and small snakes, Or any other small creature that wanders to close and catches their eye. Be very carefull when handling them. They are extremely strong, especially the males. You've got to restrain them good. Grab the feet only and the wings will beat the heck out of ya. Grab the wings only and the feet "claws" will tear ya to heck. Got to get both on the drakes. But fortunately ya very rarely have to mess with them. They will usually set twice a year especially if you take the babies away. And will hatch 10-20 ducklings each time. Usually less the second time. The best duck in my opinion. Kinda bias because I don't like quackin ducks lol.
     
  8. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They love trees. Because they are derived from wood ducks, many naturally "go" towards trees.
    It sounds to me like you don't have many trees or even "proper" management for Muscovies? (by proper I am not saying you don't have ducks or whatever, I just mean the standard mill of the run management most folks use with great success to keep them from roaming or flying off. NO OFFENSE INTENDED.)
     
  9. Gray Farms

    Gray Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ya their wings are clipped and in covered pens, way to many predators around to let them loose. I'm very aware the love to roost in trees, but was unaware that anybody has had some nest in a tree as well. Perhaps the truly wild stock in South America might still nest in trees. Muscovys fall into the love them or hate them class lol. Most everybody I've ever met loves or hates them at first sight.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
  10. TrueStockFarms

    TrueStockFarms Just Hatched

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    Central Indiana
    I am worried that I might not like mine as much as I hoped... I love the Khaki Campbells that I have but I didn't realize how different Muscovies are. The coop that I have is pretty small and they have to share with my three bantam chickens. It is probably 10x10 with roosting bars, high nests, and crates that I put my other ducks in at night. I would really like to be able to let them out but I am worried that wing clipping might not be the best for them as they may have never had this done and might feel more restrained that way. Do they rely on their wings a lot? Can they still use their wings for running fast and even jumping up on things? I don't want them to be completely limited to the ground.
     

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