[Viewer caution: Some of the resource videos contain music and/or uncovered women]
Our farm normally works with heritage and heirloom varieties. We made an exception for these ducks.
Muscovy ducks are not a heritage breed. They are not rare (in fact, some consider them pests and for sure they can be invasive) However, our particular muscovies come from homestead-suitable bloodlines carefully selected on a friend’s farm over many generations for foraging ability, quick gains, large size and temperament. These are known as meat ducks but are also decent egg layers. They are quiet, do not require a pond, roost high, raise several batches of ducklings annually (usually 10+ ducklings per nest) and the adults will eat up to a pound of flies daily – each. Ducks are generally more gentle to garden plants (except greens) and will not uproot or eat plantings the way chickens will. The meat is dark, more like roast beef, and lean. These ducks have large claws for tree climbing, and they know how to use them. Between the claws and the large size, they are more resistant to the smaller predators. We keep our muscovies for insect control and eggs.
Muscovies can be a very efficient and useful homestead addition, and can also be part of a nice homestead income. Below is a collection of our research on muscovy care, efficient feeding, and business building.
Tip: Plant trees that will provide shade and feed for the ducks and for you. Set up your water stations next to the trees on some pavers. Dump the dirty water to water the trees.
For a no soy, no gmo corn, no gmo system, consider peanut meal, black oil sunflower seeds, blackfly larvae. You can grow your own heirloom corn. You can sprout grains and sunflower seeds for more efficient digestion.
This is a great video on blackflies for food, including an easy farm unit you can build yourself.
This is a good video about sprouting seeds.
We made our own rolling sprouting system to put in the downstairs shower using an inexpensive rolling metal utility rack, and the some plastic containers with holes drilled in the bottom. We currently plan to sprout only sunflower seeds in 2020, and add our own heirloom corn in 2021, God willing.
Before assuming that organic is best, look at the care, the facility, the food choice. Educate yourself and your customers about humane husbandry and natural feed. Feed is your biggest expense. Ducks can be organic by feeding organic feed, and yet live in factory conditions. Clean healthy feed and a humane life matter more, in my opinion.
You can run ducks in your garden around mature crops and perennials. Do not run ducks with your young sprouting plants or your greens. For those of your raising goats or other livestock that get meningeal worm, ducks control the snails and slugs that host the parasite.
This article from Milkwood has some great information. “For someone raising ducks for meat, the ducklings grow out to a good size (but not full size) by 10-12 weeks, and it’s at this time, before they get their full set of adult feathers, that home harvest makes the most sense from both a practical (plucking) and a output-for-input point of view.”
We converted an old corn drying barn into a night shelter and laying area for the ducks, and during the day they free range (thank goodness for tolerant neighbors during our learning phase). To prevent wandering, we make sure the ducks get treats during the day and feed the main meal in evening to lure them back to night shelter. We clip the wing feathers of the adult birds after each molt to keep them walking, not flying. If the ducks have enough space and enough food, not too many males competing for females, and have formed the habit of staying around, they generally stick to a couple acres here at home. The ducks are big enough to discourage smaller predators, though eagles find them tasty and easy to grab, and loose dogs or larger predators will still take one if given a chance.
Please reach out to us if you would like to learn more about our system or visit the farm.
Coming this spring! Free-range duck eggs for eating, hatching eggs, and starter flocks of adult birds. Local pickup or delivery (with appropriate safety measure and distancing) and we can ship! We do not offer meat ducks. Please call/email for referral to separate local meat share business, including halal. Online ordering coming soon.