The Muscovy is a very unique breed of duck. In fact, it’s not even a true duck – it’s simply called a duck. The Muscovy is to the duck world what the donkey is to the equine world. In other words, it’s a different species, although quite closely related. Crossing a donkey with a horse will produce a sterile mule, and crossing a Muscovy with a duck will produce a sterile “mule duck.”
All true ducks originate from the Mallard. The Muscovy does not.
Muscovies originated in South America, and are now feral in many parts of the world, where they are often considered a nuisance, like pigeons. They’re also called the Barbary duck.
Muscovies come in a tremendous variety of colors. The original, wild Muscovy was black with a white patch on the wing.
Today, there are all-white strains, magpie strains (bi-colored, usually solid black and white), and blue, chocolate, silver, lavender (self-blue), buff, blue fawn, lilac, and pastel.
The feather patterns can be laced, barred, rippled, or self, and many have a gene for a white head, which usually shows up during the second year.
Some people think Muscovies are ugly because of their caruncles, a red (sometimes partially black), warty “mask” around the face.
Their claws are long and sharp, like talons, so take care when handling them.
These ducks have a wide, flat tail that they wag like a dog. Why do Muscovies wag their tail? Well, some people say they wag their tail after a nervous experience or after some problem has been resolved (such as after they have been picked up and held), but they seem to also do it when they’re happy or while conversing with other ducks.
Also, while they enjoy swimming water, they aren’t as water repellent as other ducks because their oil glands are not so well developed, and swimming water isn’t as necessary for them as some other breeds. Some of mine only take a bath about once a month.
As adults, males and females are extremely easy to identify. Males are far larger than females. They’re about 9-15 pounds (4-7 kg), and females are only 5.5 to 7 pounds (2.5-3 kg).
The caruncles of the males are also much more pronounced. Some females have only a trace of red caruncling around their eye and bill. Some drakes, on the other hand, have so much caruncling that they can barely see (I don’t approve of breeding Muscovies like this).
The voice of drakes is extremely different as well, but unlike most other ducks, males do not develop curled “sex feathers.”
They have an erectile crest of feathers on their head, which they raise when they are excited or nervous.
Females have one too, but much smaller.
As juveniles, the males grow faster and develop caruncles before the females, while the females develop wing feathers earlier than the males.
Females will look feminine and slender whereas males will be chunkier and more masculine.
By eight weeks old, many experienced Muscovy owners can already identify the sex of their ducklings.
For more information and pictures, see 10 Effective Ways to Determine Your Muscovy Duck’s Gender (With Pictures).
In contrast to the noisy quacking of other ducks, Muscovies are extremely quiet. However, although they are often called “mute ducks,” they aren’t completely silent.
Males have a hoarse hiss, and females are often described as having a soft musical whimper, which isn’t too loud, sounds nice, and isn’t likely to disturb your neighbors.
Muscovies can make a loud sound, almost like a honk, when they are startled, and they squeak when they’re broody. From time to time the flock will also gather together and have a loud “conversation,” with all the ducks “talking” at once, but this is the loudest they get and even this isn’t likely to annoy anyone.
They’re the quietest of all the poultry. Chickens are noisy, geese are noisy, guineas are noisy, and female Mallard-derived ducks are noisy, but the Muscovy is, overall, quiet.
Unlike other ducks, Muscovies perch. They don’t truly roost like chickens, but they enjoy perching on something.
In the wild, they sleep in trees. Some of mine sleep on top of their nest box. They also enjoy sitting on concrete blocks, old piles of wood, tractors, wheelbarrows, or any raised object. Even if their wings are clipped, they can jump well.
Females fly extraordinarily well and may have to be clipped, although in many modern strains, the males are too heavy to be airborne.
Muscovies are also excellent foragers and can find a good portion of their own food.
Muscovies lay 60-120 large white eggs a year.
Muscovies are tropical ducks and even prone to frostbite in cold climates. They are excellent mothers and frequently go broody. The incubation period for Muscovy eggs is 35 days, unlike the 28 days for most duck breeds. Muscovies are devoted and protective mothers.
Muscovies can breed with other breeds of ducks, but the offspring will be infertile “mules.” Some people cross Muscovies with Pekins to produce a meat bird called a Mulard.
Muscovy meat is prized. It’s dark and delicious. It’s not fatty like the meat from many other ducks, and some people compare it to veal or even sirloin steak.
Some people say Muscovies are the most sweet-tempered breed of duck.
Others declare they are ferocious and aggressive. Now, broody ducks are as ferocious as crocodiles, and there are occasionally drakes that attack humans, but in general, they’re very docile and friendly. (If you have an aggressive drake, he CAN be cured. Read more here.)
Some say they have more personality than other breeds of ducks. That’s probably just personal opinion, but although I have not yet had the privilege of raising other breeds of ducks and can’t give you any comparisons, I can tell you that Muscovies certainly have distinct personalities. Learning about my ducks’ personalities, in fact, is kind of a hobby of mine.
Muscovies were the first animals I ever raised. They are quiet, sweet, lay enough eggs for a family, have excellent meat, are good mothers, and make good pets.
I wholeheartedly recommend them.
Most animals spend a lot of time eating. As you probably know, factory-farmed chickens are constrained in battery cages and not allowed to find their own food. Here’s an eye-opening, fascinating video called “Eat To Live” that explores what those things actually symbolize for us in the Word of God. It’s certainly food for thought! 🙂
Video from Inspire4.
Quite impressive to know and it really helps me to get well with my “Muscovy Duck” farming. Thanks a lot……
Your site is so helpful! We’ve recently inherited a couple of four year old Muscovy ducks and the male appears to be molting, but from what I’ve found online it’s mixed as to whether or not the males molt at all. Any thoughts on this? It’s September in Canada and feeling very fall like already.
Oh, yes, there’s an article online that says several false things about duck molting. Among other things, it uses a picture that is a clearly a goose and not a duck, and it claims male Muscovies don’t molt. That’s rubbish. Male Muscovies definitely do molt. They generally do a full molt once a year in fall. Mine have just started molting this month and it sounds like yours probably is as well. 🙂
Awesome, thanks for the reply! 🙂
Very informative. But can you please tell me if black and white Muscovies will mate with all white?
Yes, they’re all the same breed. Color doesn’t matter.
If a muscovy duck is hand raised, and if u had one for almost 3 yrs., can they have the Tendency to fly away from the cold to warmer climate? We are heart broken. We don’t know if she flew away ,or got caught by a predator.
Muscovy ducks don’t migrate. When a duck goes missing, a predator is the most likely reason. It’s also possible she flew to a nearby lake or pond or some other location and either got lost or didn’t want to return. So if your duck was able to fly, I would recommend visiting any nearby sources of water or any nearby farms that have ducks to look for her. I hope you find her or she comes back. 🙂
Hi. I’m just starting with Muscovy’s. And would like to know how many times the drake can mate in one day.
I don’t know and I don’t why it would be important. But a drake can consistently fertilize the eggs of at least five and up to about fifteen females. Is that what you were meaning? One mating will keep a duck’s eggs fertile for up to four weeks, although fertility declines after two weeks.
Question, I have several wild Muscovy that live in the neighborhood more specifically my yard and I absolutely adore them. There’s only two girls and five males. One of the females had babies a couple months ago so they are pretty big now almost the same size as mama. I just wanted to know when will they start to fly?
It won’t be long! Muscovy wings are fully developed around four months of age (about sixteen weeks). However, it can vary between various strains, and males’ wings often develop slower, so it usually takes longer before they figure out how to fly. Many males in modern strains are too heavy to fly, but wild males should be able to.
I bet watching the babies grow up was fun. 🙂 Ducklings are the most adorable things on earth.
Also, I realize wild ducks may not be under your jurisdiction, but two females to five males is generally too much and can often result in males injuring each other through fighting or accidentally killing the females. They may be okay, at least for now, but please do keep an eye on them! If they seem to be fighting too much or injuring each other, maybe you could find a way to rehome/relocate some of the males.
I have also thre females moscovy they are almost 1 year old can someon hel me why do they not fly does they need a wing changee and if they replace they’re wings wold it change colur plz help
Hi Hysen Kali,
How old were they when you got them? If they were already three or four months old before you get them, maybe someone had already clipped their wings so they wouldn’t fly. It’s also possible that they were pinioned as young ducklings, which is a permanent procedure involved cutting off the tip of the wing. However, this is often considered cruel and thus isn’t done by most people.
Do they have angel wing? That would prevent them from flying.
If their wings look totally normal and full, maybe they just aren’t flying very much and you’re just not noticing it.
Muscovy ducks do molt and change out all their feathers once a year, but they often skip molting on their first year. They will probably molt for the first time this winter. I would guess that they’ll molt in October or November, but it somewhat depends on where you live.
No, their wings won’t change color when they get new feathers.
Hope that helps!
I rescued a flock of 12 ducklings, outside my court mother was nowhere to be found and it was 100 degrees that day there were wondering the roads… I have 3 males out of the bunch. Do the males need to be separated from the females? And when if so? They still have some fuzzy down feathers so they are rather young but growing very fast!
You generally need at least 4-5 females per male. I think you can safely keep two of the drakes. It’s possible you can keep them all together without too much trouble, but keep an eye on them. If the females are getting harassed too much or the drakes are fighting too much, you’ll have to rehome one of the drakes or separate them. Four months old is usually when they start becoming mature, so if you want to play it safe and avoid issues, that’s when you should separate at least one drake (but don’t keep him alone).
It’s great that you only had three out of twelve though! There are so many people who end up with way too many drakes and don’t know what to do with them.
Hi, I have a single male Muscovy. Found him abandoned on the street of all places. He’s happily living in my front yard now. Question is, does he need a female? Lately, he’s become pretty aggressive towards mostly everyone. He doesn’t necessarily attack, to me, it seems as if he’s biting out of frustration.
Muscovy drake aggression is almost always because the drake is either trying to dominate you or mate you. I don’t know if they bite out of frustration, but I can say he most likely wants a female. Please get more than one, if possible, because having one male and one female can sometimes result in the lone female being mated too much and thus injured.
If that doesn’t stop the problems, you probably need to actually show him that you are “flock boss” and on top of the pecking order. It isn’t necessarily easy, but aggressive birds can be quite stubborn. If you’ve ever seen drakes fight, the winner will always, in the end of the fight, pin the loser down and hold him down for several minutes. Many drake owners have had success doing this. Other people have tried using a broom to push him away and fend off all his attacks, and some drakes give up when they are repeatedly treated like this every time they try to bite.
Hope that helps!
It’s possible he needs a female….sometimes the drakes get aggressive when they want to breed. However, if you don’t want to do that, try taking him somewhere else, maybe your backyard, to explore, and he might get happier.
I I live in a condo complex were they are not very keen of the ducks because they poop on the docks, etc. And most of the babies either get run over or drown in the canal because there is no place for them to get out once they go in, but one lone one did survive and has been living on a float and I have been feeding her cracked corn and romaine. She has figured out now at high tide she can jump onto land and forages a bit, But there’s not much to eat and I feed her on land and give her freshwater up there as well. The one lone male has been showing up and hanging with her ( I think he figured out that she’s getting fed, so it’s an easy meal), but glad she has company. She did not have a very good mother and I believe she got botulism and was put down.
There is only 1 female left on the property.
I think this duckling- almost 2 months old – is a female.
My question is-how old are they when they begin to meet and lay eggs? Thank you
Oh, that’s sad. Muscovies don’t really belong in environments like that and have a hard life. To answer your question, males usually start acting mature and mating around four or five months of age, but females only start laying at six months of age.
Hi. My female muscovy is being a real horror to my female runners, she is broody. I dont have a drake. Do i need one?
Sorry for the late reply! I don’t think a drake would make a difference. Broody ducks are pretty much always nasty to other ducks. I would suggest breaking up her broodiness by blocking her nest up. You can’t let her stay broody forever; she’ll just ruin her body. While she’s still trying to get over her broodiness, make sure the Runners have plenty of space so they can get away from her if they need to.
Hope that helps!
Hi! I am designing a barn-stall-turned-into-a-coop for a mixed flock of chickens and muscovies. I am having a hard time finding out much about nest boxes. Will they lay eggs in the same boxes as the chickens, or do I need different boxes/areas?
The chickens and muscovies are not here yet, and it will be several weeks before they are coop-ready.
Thank you for your help.
Ducks have no problem sharing nest boxes. The only possible problem is that Muscovies are pickier about where they lay their eggs than most chickens and may not like a box that chickens are perfectly happy with.
I wrote an article about ducks who hide their eggs and how to get them to lay in nest boxes here:
It’ll tell you how to build nests that they will actually want to use. I intend to write more about nest boxes in the near future, but I think that article will have enough information to help you.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
It is dangerous to house drakes with chickens. Drakes are horn dogs that will mate anything relatively close to the shape of a duck. If a drake mates a chicken it will kill her. Chickens are not made to take the corkscrew penis of a drake, it will literally rip her inside out.
oh no..should i separate my chicken girls from a male duck
Yes, it would be a good idea. They may have been okay so far, but something could happen anytime. Better safe than sorry. 😃
my 2 year old layed eggs in a HOLE in the ground. I moved the eggs to fill in the hole with dirt so she could rotate them. Now I don’t see her sitting on them anymore. Is there something I can do or is it to late? also last year I had 3 females and they all only layed one time. is there something I can do to get them to lay more often? I live on the coast of Ga. thanks cindy
I’m sorry, but yes, it’s too late. Most ducks do not like if their nest is changed or moved and will stop being broody.
It’s strange they only laid once. That’s usually not normal. There are a number of possible explanations, however.
When did they lay – December, August…? Have they laid this year yet? Duck will take a break from laying once a year for approximately one to two months, while they molt. Also, many ducks don’t lay much, if at all, in winter. But if they’re not molting and it’s not winter, they should be laying, even if not every single day.
Stress is one possible reason a duck might not lay. Is there anything stressful that frequently happens to your ducks–they get chased by dogs/kids, they get picked up and petted or held a lot, they are in a pen that is too small, they are beaten up by chickens or other animals frequently, they don’t always have water available, etc.?
An improper diet or not receiving enough calcium could also prevent a duck from laying normally. What are you feeding them? Do you give them a calcium supplement such as oyster shell or eggshells?
Overweight birds won’t lay. If you have food constantly available, it’s possible for them to overeat and become obese.
Parasites and disease are another possible cause. You may want to read about the symptoms of parasites and diseases to rule this out.
Did you buy these three ducks as adults from someone else? Even if they said the birds were young, it’s possible they’re old and are now too old to lay.
I don’t know what the climate is like in GA, but weather extremes can also stress a duck and make them stop laying.
Finally, maybe they ARE laying and you just don’t know it. Many times, people complain that their birds aren’t laying, only to find out, at some point, that foxes or other predators are eating all the eggs. Sometimes, even the ducks themselves start eating the eggs, a habit that is difficult to break. Or they could be laying in secret nests that you don’t know about.
Artificial light can be used to make the ducks thing the days are longer than they really are and trick them into laying during winter, but I don’t think that will help in your case.
Thanks for bringing this up. I’m going to put “why aren’t my ducks laying?” into my list of posts I need to write. And I hoped this helped you or gave you a clue as to why your ducks might not be laying normally.
they lay one time in the spring. they already layed this year. she laid 17 but after 2 weeks she just left the nest again. I think next time I will but the eggs under my hen. I will add calcium to there diet. I do for my chickens but never thought of it for the ducks. thank you! they don’t have anything that would stress them that you listed but I will check into things much not clearer from a different perspective. Thank you so much for the response!!
Greetings from Florida! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I love the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, wonderful site!
I live in Hawaii . I have one female one male Muscovy duck . Recently the male is attacking me . I know it’s spring . He continues to attack even after I push him down . I love him but need help . Please help what should I do ? I do not want to get more female ducks . Am I doomed ?
I’m working on a complete, in-depth article on this right now. I’ll try to get it finished ASAP and give you the link. For now, though–no, you’re not doomed, and you probably don’t need to get more female ducks, although it might help.
Thank you I’m going to put drake in barn for now . Considering getting rid of him but it breaks my heart . I love him so much . That seems crazy . I’m attached to him too . But I can’t get attached. When I whack him he keeps jumping on me again and again . Even when I’m protecting myself with take he attacks take and gets stuck I drop take run out shut gate . It’s awful
.i have always talked to and petted him . This aggression is just in last week . Before he was loving came to me followed me . Let me pet him lots . 😒😂thank you so much for writing me back . I’ll wait to hear from you and leave him in barn .
I’m sorry for how long it took me to finish this. Here’s my article on how to fix drake aggression:
It still needs some refinement, and I want to add videos and pictures, but I wanted to send it to you as soon as I could.
Please let me know if you have any questions or think there’s something I should add. I want to make this as complete and informative as possible. It would also be really nice you can give me additional feedback such as how you understood it and how well it works for you. Thank you.
Hi we bred a moscovey duck she is about 4 no the old. I have noticed that her back nav become quite bare abd appears to have yellow type scurf on it. We examine her regularly for lice , mites etc and she dosent appear to have any. I.have used anibiotic powder on her and also just started applying earth powder. CAN ANYONE MAKE A SUGGESTION TO WHAT RBIS CONDITION IS KNOWN AS SO THAT I CAN TREAT APPRopriately
Take a look at this article. It might help you: https://www.raising-ducks.com/sick-duck/
Do you think it could be caused by overmating? Sometimes, when there are too many drakes or too few females, they can tear up the female’s feathers by mating her too often.
Consider taking her to a vet if you can’t figure out what’s wrong.
What does she eat? Is she molting?
I am not very experienced with health issues, but if you’d like, you can email me and send me pictures of your duck so I can at least try to help you figure out what’s wrong.
It’s possible that it wants to breed, and either the female refuses or is already bred. I understand you don’t want to get more females but you may have to to make him happier and less aggresssive.
I have 2 muscovy drakes and 2 females, they are all around 5 months old. Recently the drakes have started making a weird huffing/growling/chuckling sound. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but I am curious to know what this means. They do it sometimes when my dog approaches them, or even when I am close to them. This does not always happen, but they are very tame and one even climbes onto my lap when I have snacks for them. At first I thought it was because they don’t like the dog but they do it even when only I am around. Do you know why they make this sound?
Since they’re five months old, it’s just that they have gotten their adult voice. 😊 Their hissing is just talking. Adult drakes can’t really make any other sounds.
Thanks Hannah, I found a video on YouTube where a muscovy makes that specific sound. It’s at
https://youtu.be/hcvb5adsxsA. It’s not the normal hissing sound.
Thanks so much for your time 😊
Ah, okay. Thanks for the video. Mine make that sound too, in certain situations. I’m not sure I know exactly what it means, but it seems to have a connection to aggression. One of mine (who was aggressive in the past and is still bold and fearless) will sometimes do it if I kneel near him. They also do it when challenging other drakes to a fight. The drake in that video is being slightly threatening. Not necessarily aggressive, but he’s definitely bold and is telling the person he is not afraid of them and he is not going to back down.
So it could be a precursor to aggression. Your drakes definitely sound bold. It’s possible he’s trying to “test the water” and see if you want to fight with him. Tame, friendly drakes tend to see you as a part of their pecking order and social structure and often try to test people.
Hope that makes sense! I’m going to watch my drakes when they do this more so I can get a better idea of what it exactly means.
Thank you so much Hannah! I’ve spent some time with them today to try and figure out what triggers this response. They definitely do it when the dog gets close and I’ve recorded some videos.
Do some muscovies change color with the seasons? There is a muscovy at a local pond that I visit and feed the animals at; and either he changed colors (darker with autumn) or it’s a totally different duck.
They technically don’t change colors, but some Muscovies do fade over the course of the year and can look totally different. My blue ducks often fade to a brown color throughout the year. When they molt, they become blue again. Some of my black ducks also fade to a chocolate brown. I don’t have any chocolate ducks, but the difference between a chocolate duck’s color at the beginning and end of the season is very dramatic.
Here’s an example from my duck Moon. She’s blue. The first picture is right before a molt, and the second is right after a molt.
If you have pictures of the duck before and after, look at the caruncles. If it’s the same duck, the caruncles will be the same (unless he was very young before and is mature now).
Hope that helps!
Love your experience and insights. Just started raising ducks and I learnt a lot from your write ups and response to enquiries. Thanks a lot.
My female Muscovy is drinking but not eating. Vet can’t figure it out either, She is bright eyed and not lethargic but just not eating. Have tried meal worms and everything else under the sun. She used to eat her Mazuri daily and was very perky with her coop-mates mom/dad/brother and 3 sisters, She’s not engaging with them so we have her in a room with us to monitor her and assist feed with crushed Mazuri and pedialyte. She is bathing with the tub we have for her. Crop isn’t sour–not blocked-good droppings. We love her soooo much…any suggestions?
I apologize for the late reply and I’m sorry I can’t really help you. I am not a vet and I don’t have medical experience. I’m only going to suggest posting this on the Backyard Chickens forum. They have a lot of extremely helpful people with a lot of medical experience. There are a lot of duck people on there too.
Hope you find a solution and she gets better!
Great site and really appreciate all the learning! Question: Is it possible to know if a pair of Muscovies have mated without seeing it? Our property is surrounded by a creek so I can’t have my eyes on them at all times. I’d like her to start brooding but I don’t know if she likes the male. He’s a pushover and both of them are extremely social with me. She has 3 eggs I don’t want to take away because they might be fertile. Please any insight would be fantastic. They’re my first couple.
Well, if a male and female duck are together, it’s pretty much a given that they’ll mate. But you can’t tell for sure unless you witness it or unless your eggs are fertile. You have to let them incubate for about 4-7 days before you’re able to see signs of life in the eggs when candling. I’d leave the eggs and wait until she goes broody and then wait until she’s been sitting for a few days, and then I’d candle.
Oh, I forgot. If she’s missing feathers on the back of her head, it most likely means that not only is he mating her, but he’s doing it too much. If this happens, you need to add a couple more females.
Another question 🙂
I have 2 muscovy males and 2 females. I got the 2 males and one of the females when they were about 3 weeks old. I got the other female a few weeks ago from a guy who said she was about 5 months old (about the same age as the other muscovies now).
When we got her home, at first we thought that she was just dirty, but it’s been about 3 weeks and she still has the same dark marks on her legs and feet. It doesn’t look like she is supposed to have dark legs, but I don’t know.
Do you maybe know what causes these marks? I could send you photos if it would help?
Yes, photos would be nice as I’m not sure what these marks look like. But it sounds normal. The markings on my ducks’ feet is very random. Some have completely dark or gray legs, some have orange feet and legs with dark splotches, some have almost completely orange legs. I’ve never heard of any problem with a duck’s leg color, except in certain breeds where they are supposed to have all orange legs or something. Muscovy leg color doesn’t matter.
It could just be the color that the Muscovy is. However, you may want to check and see if it’s not an injury of some sort.
How do I send them to you? 🙂
Another thing I forgot to mention is that some of the marks seem to go away, but most of them are still there.
Well, that’s odd. I’ve never heard of marks that go away and come back. Here’s my email address:
Do muscovy females lay bigger eggs the older they get?
My one female’s eggs are about 5cm tall (she is definitely not older than 6 months)
But the other female’s eggs are about 6 cm, which doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s really much larger (I have no idea how old she is) . This female’s nest is also much neater and she uses feathers, twigs and soil, where the other one just laid hers in a hole.
Not really. The first eggs are usually small, but they quickly reach their normal size. I have some ducks that regularly lay large eggs, and others that always lay small eggs. It depends more on the individual duck than the age. Same with the nests. I have one duck who always wants to lay above the ground, in wheelbarrows, raised nest boxes, flowerpots, and things like that. She always makes really nice nests. Her sister, on the other hand, sticks her eggs in random holes.
Weight is a better way to find out how big an egg is. Muscovy eggs are usually 65 to 85 grams. Mine, for some reason, are usually smaller than that. I think it might be because my ducks are closer to the wild version of Muscovies.
Thank you for the info. There is not much out there on Muscovies. I need your advise. Next paragraph is my story, which you can skip if your time is limited. My question is at the bottom
I live close to Tampa Florida. I have several ducks, chickens and one PB Pig. I do rescue, at times. I have a women that works at the local fruit stand that brings “day old” fruits and veggies to my animals. This is going to sound crazy, one day she brought me 11 rescued muscovy eggs out of a nest that was thrown in a business owner’s dumpster. Fast Forward, three hatched. I was ignorant to the breed so i read everything i could find. Most of it negative. I even called State of Fl Wildlife. When the agent got on the phone he didn’t even let me finish my sentence…”I’m calling on muscovy ducks” he assumed, “you wanting to euthanize?” “NO!” I said. I want to know the best protocol for release. I admit I was prejudice. To say that the muscovy are hated here, is an understatement. So I decided to use my best Judgment. after hatch I would have No interaction with them Other than slip them their food and water until I felt they were big/strong enough for release. First time I let them out to stretch their legs and clean there box, they came straight for me and attacked me!!.. with nibble kisses and little whispers. That was it..they are mine. They are the sweetest No comparison to ducks or chickens!
ok so my problem is one of them is missing. I don’t see how it could be a preditor since they perch way high in a tree every night. They are the only ones i don’t put in at night.
they put up with that for the first couple weeks but when they started flying they would not come down to get in the enclosure. I have not found feathers anywhere to indicate this. If it is because its a “she” and is sitting on eggs somewhere wouldn’t she come around for water/food. Its now been five days? FYI, they are about six months old. A couple months ago the two (I have) paired up and the one that is missing was with them but always a little distant. Please assist
Perching in a tree does not guarantee safety from predators. I’m not exactly sure what kind of predator might get to them, but I’ve heard of Muscovies being attacked during the night while sleeping in a tree.
If she was sitting on eggs, she probably would come for food and water, but you wouldn’t necessarily have noticed. She could have come at any time of day or night.
However, I’m guessing she might have flown away. I didn’t clip my ducks’ wings when I first got them, years ago, and at first they seemed fine and never flew too far. However, then two of them flew away. We found one, and the other returned the next day. Not long after that, a third duck flew away and never returned. It’s not necessarily that they intend to leave you. They just fly for fun and then get lost. A domestic Muscovy flew into our yard a few weeks ago. We had no idea where she came from, so we kept her and clipped her wings, but there is someone, somewhere, who is now wondering what happened to one of their ducks.
I’m sorry you lost a duck and it would be wonderful if she somehow returned. Please clip the other ducks’ wings before they fly away too!
Your story was so nice to read and I’m so glad you kept them. I’ve heard of the problems with feral Muscovies in Florida and other areas. It would be great if there was some program to reduce or remove the feral population without killing them, since they don’t belong there and cause so many problems and go through so much hardship.
Hi. There are 5 muscovy ducks that have been coming to my house for a couple months. It’s a dead end street and they like to sit by the ever present puddle. One of the females recently laid eggs under a Bush on the side of my house. She leaves during day and returns in morning and lays more. I’m able to count 16 eggs now and shes been doing this for 9 days. Will she eventually sit on the eggs all day? How many will she lay? Is there any special food I can give her? Also is there anything I can do to help her protect her babies if and when they hatch? We enjoy having them here and would like to keep them around. Should I put a small kiddy pool or anything for babies? Thank you.
Yes, she’ll probably go broody and sit on the eggs all day pretty soon. It’s not guaranteed, though. Sometimes they lay a clutch and never fully go broody.
I don’t think she’ll lay many more. The largest clutch I ever had was about twelve eggs, if I remember correctly. (I suppose two ducks are laying in the nest? Ducks only lay one egg a day.)
You don’t NEED to give her anything since I suppose she’s been finding all her own food already, but you can feed her if you want to. Chicken feed will be fine, and you can add in some treats like tomatoes or other veggies if you’d like. Just don’t solely feed her something with little nutrition such as bread, veggies, or scratch, because it can mess up the balance of her diet.
The only way to fully protect her babies would be to put them in a covered pen, but that would mean putting them in captivity, which probably isn’t legal (assuming these are wild/feral Muscovies).
You can put up a kiddy pool if you’d like, but if she’s skittish, she might be wary of it and not want to let her babies in it.
Hope that helps! 😃
We have “inherited” our neighbors muskovey ducks! Not by our choice, the hens all went broody at the same time and decided, hey I like their yard better!! But I also have lots of chickens and lots and lots of water and food available always. I refused to feed them when they came up so they just jumped into the chicken pen and voila food!! So now they have all had babies and are all about half the size of the mommas. One hen stays on the pond with her babies but one has decided that she and her big babies are going to just stay in the chicken pen! Are my chickens ok with them in there? They don’t seem to fight but I worry about overcrowding and everyone not getting proper nutrition. The enclosure is 1/2 acre wide by 1 1/2 acres long, completely wooded…. I have a separate 1/4 acre pen just for baby chicks and new mommas. When can we expect wing feathers and such from the little ducklings. Should we clip wings???? Help new to DUCKS!!
By the way, can’t stand my neighbors because they do not take care of the animals they get!! Their animals come to our house for food and care.
Chickens and ducks usually get along fine…EXCEPT that drakes will often try to mate the chickens. Since ducks and chickens have very different anatomy, this can be deadly to the chickens. It’s important to separate drakes from female chickens.
Overcrowding: If they’re only in this enclosure for the night, the rule of thumb is 1-2 square feet per chicken (since they are almost completely inactive during the night) and 4-5 per duck. If they’re in it full time, you need at least ten square feet per bird, preferably more. To me, it sounds like you have plenty of space, but it depends on how many birds you have.
Nutrition: Be sure you have multiple feeders so there’s always space for everyone to eat. Ducks can eat chicken feed, although they do need more niacin than chickens, so many poultry raisers add extra niacin to their ducks’ diets. Also, medicated chick feed is dangerous for ducklings.
Wing feathers: They’re usually fully feathered and start learning to fly by approximately four months of age.
Clipping wings: Yes, I recommend clipping their wings. When I was a kid, I had five Muscovy ducks and I was heartbroken when three of them flew away. One we found, one returned the next day, and the third, Snowy, probably starved to death in the desert. Better safe than sorry. Just clip them.
I think you should try to do something about those neighbors. If authorities won’t do anything (which sometimes happens), maybe you can try to talk them into selling you their animals. I’m glad they’re at least free to come to your place!
I hope that helps! Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.
I have a young pair of Muscovy ducks. I live in subtropical Queensland . Her first lay was 40 eggs which I ate. She had a two month break then started to lay again. I currently have 20 eggs in a incubator but she has maybe 10 or so eggs she sits on under a bushy part of my garden. My question is some times I find her off the eggs and with the Drake. I can’t be sure how long she has been off but next time I check she seems to be sitting again. How long can they take breaks for and still have eggs hatch
It sounds like she might not be fully broody. A fully broody duck will only leave their nest for half an hour a day or less, although if the temperature is warm, they can leave for one or even two hours without the eggs dying. Many of my ducks will go “half broody” and stay on the nest roughly half the day, for a few days. Then they either forget about being broody, or decide to go fully broody.
So no, the eggs won’t survive if she’s gone for over an hour a day. But it’s possible she isn’t even fully broody yet. Give her a few days and see what happens. Hope that helps!
Hello! I have a question I was hoping you might be able to answer. I’m designing a coop for meat birds that will be harvested fairly young and I’m having a hard time finding information on perching behavior. I know Muscovy like to roost, though not in the true sense like a chicken, but at what age to they start showing this trait? I’d like to build a roost structure with flat 2×4’s so they have a large area under foot. I’ll probably add some ramps as well because I intend to clip wings. Are they grounded as young ducklings and then begin to roost around six weeks? Earlier? Later? I’d greatly appreciate any advice! Thank You!
I’m not exactly sure when they start perching since I haven’t paid much attention, but it’s definitely later than six weeks. They barely even have feathers by six weeks. It might be more like twelve weeks. By the way, if you are planning to harvest them early, there is probably no need to clip their wings, because by the time they’re fully feathered and able to fly, around sixteen weeks, they’re also close to full size. I don’t even think roosts/perches are necessary since, depending on when exactly you will butcher them, they will have only a few weeks at maximum to enjoy perching. You can do it if you’d like, but there’s no need.
I hope that helps!
Hi! I live in Miami on a lake in the suburbs. We had a duck who had a HUGE mask. Recently we found “him” and another female dead on our lake shore and had them autopsied to make sure nothing odd had happened. They drowned, probably from rough mating, but the large duck with the HUGE mask ended up being a girl. No one can/will/care to explain why her mask was so huge. We are very curious. “He” lived in our yard with 2 other females but I can’t remember if I ever saw them mating. I wonder if they could have gotten their ducks mixed up in the necropsy. Its mask was so big that it partially covered its eyes. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Also, I see pictures of ducks on beds, can they be potty trained? Thank you!
Sorry to hear about them dying. 😢 I have never, ever seen a female Muscovy with caruncles large enough to cover its eyes. However, it might be possible. Can you remember what his/her voice was like? Did the duck hiss (which would signify a male), or utter a soft cooing, trilling sound? There have also been cases of ducks switching sexes, although it’s rare. I think it’s also possible for a duck to be a hermaphrodite.
I really don’t know. It could be a girl with strangely large caruncles. It could be a drake and there was a mistake made in the necropsy, as you said. Or it could be that it was a hermaphrodite or even switched sexes at some point in its life.
No, ducks can’t be potty trained, as they lack the muscles to hold in their poop. However, many people buy or make duck diapers in order to allow their ducks in the house. Some people also take away their ducks’ food and water, wait a while (I’m not sure how long, maybe half an hour) so they have time to poop out whatever they might have eaten previously, and then let their ducks in the house for an hour or two before they have to give them access to food and water again.
I hope that helps!
I have 3 Muscovy females and one unknown duckling. Over the past week one of the females has become aggressive whenever we cross paths and she has also been bullying one of the other female ducks. Its been getting worse since we removed the aggressive drake from the picture. Any tips on what to do with my cranky female?
I’m really not sure what to do with a duck that bullies other ducks, besides separating her. If you can’t do that, make sure the other duck has plenty of space to escape and eat on her own without having to be near the aggressive one. As far as aggression toward humans, I wrote an article on that: http://www.raising-ducks.com/aggressive-drakes/ It’s aimed at drakes, but it should help with aggressive female ducks as well.
Hope that helps!
Good morning. I have a question I had a Muscovy duck that just showed up in my back yard about a week ago. I don’t know the gender of it. What can I feed it. It stays on the bank in the back yard where the creek is. I live in eastern Kentucky weather will start cooling off soon an if it continues to stay here I want to be prepared to help it survive when it turns cold cold. Like food an should i make some kind of roof shelter for it. Any help an suggestions would be great. Thanks Peggy.
I’d suggest feeding it ordinary chicken feed, or poultry feed if it’s available. Anything else is too likely to mess up their diet, if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I’m not sure how cold it gets in Kentucky. Ducks in general are very cold-hardy, although Muscovies are prone to frostbite on their caruncles. A nice dry dog house with deep bedding would be plenty, I think, if it’s not too cold. If that’s not enough, maybe you could add a heat lamp.
The duck might migrate or decide to leave at any time, however. It seems that would be the natural choice, with winter approaching.
It doesn’t snow at all where I live, so this is definitely not my area of expertise. I hope it helped anyway!
Hi, I’ve raised muscovy ducks for almost four years, and I really enjoyed this reading, it explains everything I´ve learning with them. The’re absolutely adorable. But I have a question, I have two white males, father and son, they’re 4 and 2 years old, and neither one likes to bathe, why?? The’re so dirty, brown, with things stick to them, and when I put them in water, they run away like if the water is fire. Every other ducks, females and juveniles really like to bath… My younger drake is so much loving, I use to have in my lap, pet him, kiss him… but he stinks… What can I do? Why don’t my drakes like to bath?
I really have no idea. It seems to be a common complaint across Muscovy drake owners. All of mine hate bathing too, except that I do have two young (6 month old) drakes that swim in our pond every day. I don’t know if they will grow it of it when they’re older. Some people physically give their drakes baths just so they don’t stink. 😂
This picture exemplifies the problem perfectly, I think:
Hi, thanks a lot. I thought it was just mines… thank you.
I wish you very luck with your lovely ducks. And thanks for your help.
Regards from Portugal.
I have a question. I have a male and female muscovy pair. They have been together for at least 4 years. She has two ducklings (at least 2 mos old) following her around. Recently she is chasing the big male around the pen and biting at him. She did not do this before. Any suggestions?
Actually, I don’t know. That’s not a situation that happens often. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a female chasing a male. A quick Google search yielded me nothing. (Apparently Google doesn’t know that the order of words matters–it thought I was talking about male ducks chasing females. 😆)
The only thing I can think of is that she’s trying to keep him away from her babies, even though I’ve never seen that happen before, and I would have thought it would only happen while the ducklings were tiny, not suddenly start when they’re already half grown.
My only suggestion is to wait and see if she stops soon. In the meantime, make sure the drake has access to somewhere safe so he can get away if he needs to. If she continues, you might consider adding a few more female ducks, although I really don’t know if it would help or not.
Sorry I can’t help you any more!
Hi Hannah and Virginia,
Just wanted to say, my female chases my male around with her wings back, head down and pulls on or out his feather. Only seems to do it when she has eggs. I didn’t know it wasn’t common, I just assumed she was being protective of her eggs. Last time she got so bad, I took her eggs away. This time she’s not as bad, still chases him a little but isn’t pulling on feathers.
So then it does happen. My ducks do tend to be “grumpy” and chase other ducks when they’re broody, but I haven’t noticed them specifically targeting males, or chasing the males at all. However, in a flock of just one male and one female, I suppose it could be far more common. I didn’t really think of that before.
Hello and thank you for the very substantial content of this blog! We farm in the upper midwest – southeast WI, and currently are raising heritage midget white turkeys, meat chickens, and muscovy ducks. Our ducks are currently 4 months old and thought penned at night in a covered (chicken wire) kennel, they are free during the day. I am wondering:
1) given our cold winters, how easily will the muscovy feet succumb to frost bite when allowed to roam on the frozen turf during winter?
2) at what point would they likely start laying given they are 4 months old, and it is now October and night time temps are under 30 degrees and dipping, with daylight at 11 hrs and dipping as well? I am not aiming to provide extra daylight by “turning light to my ducks” and doing multiple chores during WI cold winters is not my ultimate goal. Will they likely starting laying later in the first quarter?
3) Now that it is winter, and the frost will be going deeper here, my “‘roamin’ scobies” will not be finding as much good protein (bugs) when foraging. Will their 16% chicken grower feed be sufficient through the winter? AND, as there will be very little green in their diets from dandelions, etc, (which they love in the pastures they roam), should I be thinking of supplementing? Do you feed kelp, oyster shell, or grit to your muscovies?
Thank you for all the great responses to your readers! Very helpful.
1): It doesn’t snow where I live, so I don’t have personal experience. From what I’ve read, most people keep their Muscovies inside all winter. A few people, however, say that their Muscovies are just fine tramping through the snow (including someone from Ohio–I’m not sure if temperatures there compare to Wisconsin?). You could err on the side of caution and keep them inside, or you could see if they want to be outside. If they do and they seem to do fine (keep a close eye on them, for sure!), I suppose you can let them stay outside, as long as there is some sort of windbreak. I think the wind is generally the biggest issue.
2): I think they would start laying sometime after temperatures are above freezing, whenever that is in Wisconsin. According to climate charts on Wikipedia, that would be about April, although it’s possible they would start laying earlier or later.
3): Yes, 16% should be fine. They won’t be laying, and they won’t be growing much, so they don’t really need high protein. I would definitely supplement with greens. It’s not an absolute must, but it makes them so much happier and it is so much better for them. I don’t give my ducks oyster shells, kelp, or grit, because they have six acres to free range on all year round and can find pretty much everything they need to supplement their diet. I’ve tried offering crushed eggshells, but they are never interested. In your situation, however, it would be a good idea to offer at least the grit. Oyster shells are only necessary if they’re laying, and I really haven’t seen that many flock raisers feeding kelp, although of course it’s fantastic for them.
Hope that helps!
We are new to having Muscovies and from reading this it appears that they do not pair. But the question is how many ducks to one drake is reasonable?
The muscovies are kept in a fully wired enclosure (including the top) with the other poultry, mostly chickens with a couple of geese and 2 Indian Runners. I am hoping that if the drake has enough ducks there will be peace in the farmyard – but how many is enough? The enclosure is about 900sq.ft. for a target number of 30 birds.
A fully wired enclosure is needed because the local foxes, martins and eagles all expect (my) poultry for lunch!
Five to eight females per drake usually suffices. However, if you have chickens in the same enclosure, I would recommend having more than that, because if a drake tries to mate with a chicken, he can kill her, due to their drastically different reproductive systems. In general, it’s not recommended to keep drakes with chickens. Personally, though, I think it can work out just fine, IF you have enough space and enough females to keep the drake fully satisfied.
I have six drakes currently, and thirty females (thus one to five). I think that’s probably more than optimal, though, because we’ve been having relatively frequent fights ever since the two youngest drakes matured. We’ll probably be processing one of them soon. I doubt this many drakes would work if they were in an enclosure, though. Ours free range for the day and are split into three pens for the night, so there are only two drakes per pen.
I also do have chickens who free range with them, but they’re not mature yet, so I don’t know if there will be issues yet. So far, the ducks have completely ignored the chickens.
A lot of it also depends on the individual drake. It’s crazy how massive the differences are between my six drakes. I know some of mine would work just fine in a situation like you have described, in an enclosure with five or six females, and wouldn’t mess with the geese or chickens or start any commotion. On the other hand, I know some of my other drakes would probably cause a daily pandemonium. LOL
In summary, more is better, and I would suggest about eight females per drake. It’s still possible there will be issues, though, and you may need to add more. There’s also a chance that it will be impossible to keep a drake with your chickens, because some drakes will just never stop chasing after girls, no matter the species and no matter how many they already have.
I hope that helps!
I found a recently hatched Muscovy that the mother had rejected. (She rejected the whole nest, but this was the only one still alive.) The mother a semi-wild duck that hangs out at a lake near a friend’s warehouse and someone’s been feeding her birdseed or chicken feed once she made a nest near the warehouse door. (Could that be why she rejected the hatchlings? She wasn’t eating right?) The hatchling has survived so far, but it didn’t get a chance to fully absorb its “umbilical” cord. What’s the prognosis for this little fellow? Should I take him to the wildlife shelter where he’ll be around other ducks or will that make him more susceptible to illness if he didn’t hatch right? Duck’s been quite a fighter so far.
It’s amazing that he survived and was then lucky enough to be rescued!
I doubt the diet would contribute to the mother abandoning her babies. It’s hard to say why she would do that, but there are many possible reasons.
I think the baby will be fine. The umbilical cord will probably shrivel up and fall off before long. You can use a Q-tip to spread some rubbing alcohol on it a few times a day, and everything should be alright. An umbilical cord still attached is a fairly common scenario.
The duckling is no longer attached to the egg, right? If it’s still attached to the egg, that’s a bit different. In that case, you should leave it alone and wait for it to complete the absorption process.
Unless you’re planning to hand-raise it and be its mom, yes, I suppose it should go to a wildlife shelter.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.
Thank you for your reply.
Nope, no longer attached to the egg. So far, it’s eaten, had some water, started splashing around in its water dish, snuggled with a stuffed moose, and practiced walking around.
It was a little weak, but it’s been getting stronger and moving around more, standing more, flapping its “wings.”
I’ll do the rubbing alcohol trick and hope that seals the hole. I would like to be able to drop it off at the wildlife center so it can learn how to be a duck and hang out with other ducks, but until/unless that little umbilical hole closes, they won’t take him because they say he’s susceptible to infection.
I want what’s best for the little duck. He’s quite sweet. And I live with cats. I’m not sure how the cats would take to a duck. (For now the duck is in our home office and the door’s closed to keep the cats out.)
Thank you for your help.
That sounds great! The cord will probably fall off within a day or two, and then you should be able to take the duckling to the shelter.
I have a silly question, Can Muscovy Duck lay Unfertilized Eggs like Chickens?
Yep, they can. If you don’t have a drake, the eggs will be unfertilized, but the ducks will still lay.
I am new to South Florida and its wildlife . So on my dogwalks, starting last August, I came across a mama duck and 13 little ducklings marching in single file. Later that day, I found them hanging out in a huge puddle in the entrance to our complex. Of course, I was concerned and went to visit them every day. We do have a canal only 2 blocks from that puddle, but they insisted on hanging there. About a week after I discovered this family, the babies started disappearing one after the next. Finally after several weeks, there were 5 left, then the next day only 3. The three grew a bit and then they disappeared too. I was so depressed to see how cruel wildlife was.
About 2 months later, in November, another family of 8 ducklings appeared in the same puddle. Over several weeks, 3 of them vanished. I thought for sure the 5 would make it. But then 2 more disappeared at the same time. The three left continued to thrive and grew as big as mom. They eventually started hanging out at a neighbor’s house, who has been leaving water and food out for them. Mama duck never left their side and the 4 of them even loved visits from my dog. A week ago, I went to thank the woman who was feeding them and was told that the mama had died the day before. Someone saw her crossing the street toward her babies and she had collapsed. This good samaritan drove her to the vet and she had supposedly died of a broken neck.
Strangely, and maybe it is not so strange, a foster parent showed up that very day and sat with the 3 kids, who would not leave the site of where Mama had died. I am pretty sure this foster parent was a male, maybe their dad? About the 5th day, I saw the foster parent sitting alone while the kids were at their house eating from the front lawn. Then he was gone the next day. And then the kids were gone, too.
I have so many questions after following 3 separate families of Muscovy ducks now. I call them all the Puddleducks. The third family lasted one week. All 7 babies disappeared in two shifts. And their mama seemed devastated. I found her at the puddle, pacing. She then came right up to me, talking. I swear she wanted to know where the babies went. And when I took out my camera ( I just wanted to get a picture of her), she took off and flew toward the canal.
Sorry for this long story, but I have been researching Muscovy ducks and cannot find much info.
1. From the time they hatch, when does mama take them out and away from the nest? I have been trying to figure out how old these babies are when I see them at the puddle. And they look so adorable swimming in the puddle, almost like the toy duckies we had in our bathtubs.
2. When do they usually leave Mama?
3. What would have killed Mama duck? Seems to me if she was hit by a car, she would have appeared to be more injured. Could it have been another animal who shook her?
4. Is it common that another duck, and a male duck, would know the mama had died and would come to babysit the kids until they moved on?
5. And where do they all go at night? Back to where the nest was?
Thank you for any info you can offer. I am certainly intrigued by these ducks. The HOA here is not so intrigued, by the way. I believe they are somehow killing the ducks. I know they go around looking for eggs and destroy them.
That’s sad to hear! Muscovies are feral in Florida, but they don’t belong there and are considered an invasive species and a nuisance. You’re right that people are trying to exterminate them. They have a tough life, indeed. Still, they seem to thrive. From what I’ve heard, Florida is overrun with them.
1. They usually come out of the nest on their second or third day. If you have pictures, you can send them to me and I can guess how old they are, if you’d like. It takes nearly a month for them to start developing feathers, by the way.
2. They gradually grow more independent and usually leave her fully by the time they can fly, which is between three and four months of age.
3. I don’t know.
4. I’ve never heard of this. Drakes don’t help with parenting whatsoever. The most I’ve ever seen a drake do was look on curiously and wag his tail. Females do sometimes adopt other ducks’ babies–in fact, right now, I have a duck, Cricket, who was broody when another duck, Lady, hatched babies. Cricket adopted Lady’s babies, and they make excellent comothers. Perhaps this foster mom had babies of her own, which were lost, and she decided to adopt the other duck’s babies.
5. I’m not familiar with the habits of feral Muscovies, but my own mother ducks just bring their babies back to their pen at night. They seem to sleep in the nest for the first week or so, and after that they just sleep wherever they want in the pen. I would guess that the mother would either take them back to the nest, or to wherever she deems safe.
Hope that helps! Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.
thank you so much for that info. Where would I post photos? The first time I am spotting the babies, they are fuzzy brown and yellow. By the way, I did see the three ducks fly about a foot off the ground and maybe 100 feet in length. They looked as if they were practicing. It has now been 4 days since seeing the 3 kids…guessing they have finally left to start their life.
All the best,
I don’t think this system allows for posting of photos in the comment form, but you can email me and attach photos from here: http://www.raising-ducks.com/contact/
I hope the babies have a good, healthy adult life. 😃
After not seeing the 3 Tweenies for a whole week, I spotted them yesterday with their Foster parent, who I still think is a male. So they are still not living on their own after 4 months. I still need to send you pictures. I have not forgotten.
They would probably stick together even after they’re capable of being fully independent. It’s not like they abandon their mom as soon as they can fly. Ducks are social animals and like to stick together. So, I’m not surprised.
Thanks so much for all this information! I have a few Muscovies in my backyard pond habitat and we’ve watched the same mom produce two clutches now (once a year ago and once right now). The mom did a great job of raising the ducklings last year but now it seems she has lost interest in her young. They are still fluffy looking and dont look nearly as big as the babies did last year when they left. The father of last year’s clutch just came back to the pond and since he’s been back we haven’t seen the babies with the mom (she’s been with him probably trying to mate again). She seems very relaxed about not being near her babies.
My main question is if a Muscovy mom will mate even though her current clutch is still growing? I’m concerned for the ducklings but she seems to not care. What could have made her abandon her clutch?
How old exactly are the ducklings? Mother ducks seem to choose different times to wean them and let them become independent. Sometimes they stay with their ducklings until they’re adults, other times they leave before the ducklings are even fully feathered. I have one named Lady who stayed with her ducklings for a long time last year, but this year she abandoned them when they were only five weeks old. (I do think that was partially because Lady’s older daughter from last year, Cricket, insisted on mothering the new ducklings and kept “kidnapping” them and leaving Lady behind. After a few weeks of trying to chase Cricket away and keep up with wherever Cricket would take the babies, Lady gave up and returned to normal life. Cricket is still mothering the ducklings as of today.)
As long as the babies are not crying for help and trying to be with their mom, and as long as they’re reasonably safe and have access to food, they should be fine. Abandoning ducklings is a fairly common scenario that I’ve seen a lot, but often nothing is wrong and it’s just that the mother has decided to leave because she feels her babies are ready. For the most part, I trust her choices. She usually does seem to know best when to wean her babies, even if it’s earlier than I think they should be weaned.
Hope that helps!
Hi, I have a female muscovy kept with a male Peking (only for companion purposes, his mate died). They are both friendly, eat out of my hand, I pet them, and spend time talking to them. I noticed my muscovy has been trying to jump in my lap or up at me. It’s scary because the claws. I do wear gloves when I hold her to clip her wings. But, I’m wondering why she is jumping at me. I haven’t seen her crest raised at those moments, she usually nibbles and “talks” to me. Is she mad and wants to kick my butt or happy? Any insight would be great. Thanks
Without seeing her behavior, I’m not sure. She could just be being friendly and jumping into your lap because she likes it and wants treats. Or she could be showing aggression. Are you sure it’s a she? Females don’t often try fighting with humans, unlike males, but I suppose it’s possible. They do jump in the air and make a lot of noise when arguing, but again, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female duck try to pick a fight with a human. They also usually bite when they’re trying to fight.
Definitely don’t run away or move backwards. If she is indeed being aggressive, moving away will tell her that you accept a subordinate position and she is now free to boss you around.
It’s certainly somewhat unusual behavior. I can’t really tell what’s going on without seeing it, but those are my guesses.
Hope that helps!
I have 3 muscovy ducks and 2 of the females lay on there nest all the time nowthis morning my one female decided it was time she was leaving the nest and go outside and my other female goes outside all the time but I think she lays on the nest at night because every morning the eggs are in a different position is that normal for them to do all this
I’m a little confused…do they sit on their nest all day, or not? You said they “lay on their nest all the time,” but then said that one female left the nest and went outside and the other goes outside all the time.
If they sit on their nest ALL DAY, they are broody. A broody duck is trying to hatch her eggs and will only leave the nest approximately once a day for a bite of food and water.
Do you have a drake? If not, the eggs are infertile, and your ducks are just wasting their time and stressing their bodies by being broody. Being broody is very stressful for a duck because it prevents them from getting exercise and will cause them to lose a lot of weight because they eat so little. If you are not intending to hatch these eggs, please take the eggs away from the ducks and make them stop being broody by blocking off their access to their nest. I don’t think it’s nice to let a duck sit on eggs that she won’t be able to hatch. Here’s more information about you need to break any broody that isn’t going to hatch:
Sometimes a duck will only sit on the nest part of the day or only during the night. This often means that they are preparing to go fully broody and sit on their nest all day, but sometimes a duck will never fully go broody and will just sit part of the time. I don’t know why this happens.
Are either of the females laying eggs? If they are, that is why the eggs are in a different position. When they go to lay their egg, they will often move and roll the eggs around.
If they stopped laying, it’s probably because they decided to go broody, or they think it’s time to have a break from laying.
Again, if you don’t have a drake and are not trying to hatch these eggs, take them away. They will rot if you just leave them there. And break up the ducks’ broodiness. It’s not good for their health to be broody forever.
Hope that helps! Let me know if I didn’t answer your question well enough, or if you have any other questions.
Sorry the female did sit on her nest all the time all day then today she left just to get something to eat and drink then sat right back on the nest. The other females go back and forth to the nest throughout the day and my male watches over all the females all day. Sorry about the confusion
Okay, that first female is definitely broody and trying to hatch her eggs. Yes, it’s normal for her to leave once a day or so to get water and food. You may not see her do it every day, but she probably does. She may also decide to take a bath sometimes. She shouldn’t stay off her nest for more than half an hour a day, though. If she stays broody, you will probably have ducklings 35 days after the first day she started sitting all day. If you know the date she started sitting, you should be able to calculate the due date. You said you candled them in your email. They definitely sound like they’re growing well, so everything sounds good to me.
The others don’t sound like they’re fully broody. I have some ducks like that. They like visiting their nest and try to sit part of the day even when they’re not actually laying, but they never go broody all the way. I don’t know why they do this, but it seems fairly normal.
Hope that helps!
Since my 2nd female was sitting on her nest all the time like the first female up until a week ago now she is only sitting on them at night and like i said through out the day should i leave her eggs alone or should i move the eggs to the other nest under the broody female that sits all the time
If she was sitting consistently until recently, the eggs are probably dead. A few hours of being cold can easily kill them. You can candle them, and if they look like they’re still alive, you can put them under the other broody (assuming she can fit them all; some Muscovies can only sit on ten eggs, while others can sit on up to 20). If they’re not alive, get rid of them.
I have heat lamps in there plus its heated i also have a incubator to if i need to put them in there
Okay, but eggs need quite a bit of heat…99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t think heat lamps are enough to keep eggs alive for days on end. The humidity is also an issue, and the eggs need turned. If the duck left, the humidity could also have gotten out of whack. If they’re still alive, you’re lucky! You can put them under the other broody if she has space, or in the incubator if not.
My neighbors pekin duck just started laying her eggs this morning in my oriental grass but she isnt sitting on the eggs can i put them in the incubator and will they hatch? Or wont they be fertile?
She will not start sitting right after the starts laying. Ducks usually only go broody and start sitting AFTER they’ve finished laying their clutch. I would suggest waiting a week to see if she will go broody on her own.
Does the neighbor not want the eggs?
Is there a male with the Pekin duck? If there isn’t, the eggs won’t be fertile.
If she doesn’t go broody in a week, and if there is a male, and if your neighbor is fine with it, yeah, you can incubate them. Just don’t put the eggs in an incubator that already has eggs in it, because eggs have different humidity and temperature requirements at different stages of incubation. If you put new eggs into an incubator that already has eggs that have already been incubating for a while, it will be hard to make sure both eggs have what they need, especially when the older ones start hatching. (I’m just saying this because earlier you had a question about putting your Muscovy eggs in your incubator. If you’ve done that, I wouldn’t suggest putting Pekin eggs in too.)
Hi yes there is a male and no neighbors dont want them and i have a 2nd incubator if needed. And i will wait to see what happens. Thanks
Okay, then you can incubate them if she doesn’t go broody. However…I don’t know if you have considered what you are going to do with all these babies? If your Muscovies hatch eggs, and then the Pekin hatches eggs, you’re going to have a lot of babies. You’ll need quite a bit of space to house them. About half of them will be males, and you can’t have too many males as they will fight and could kill each other and the females. Do you have a plan for what you will do with them? You could use them to feed you (if you’re comfortable with that), or you could keep a “bachelor” flock of only males, or you might even be able to rehome them. However, it’s quite difficult to rehome extra males, as not many people want them and too many people want to get rid of them.
You might already have a plan, but I’m asking just in case you haven’t considered it.
I was wondering what is the best temp. to start of with in the incubator the papers only say hatching temp which is 99.5 so is tat the temp I keep it at all times?
Yes, 99.5 is the correct temperature throughout incubation.
Good morning i was wondering how long are duck eggs good to keep in the refrigerator if you wanted to keep them in there if i wanted to sell them
Unwashed duck eggs will last at least three months refrigerated, and up to seven months.
Washed duck eggs will last at least two months refrigerated.
The difference is because washing the egg removes the protective “bloom” coating the egg. The “bloom” keeps dirt and bacteria out.
Of course, the sooner you eat them, the better. But eggs do last much longer than many people think.
We have a female muscovy who is nesting in the loft of our barn. We are worried about the babies falling out of the loft and being hurt. Should we attempt to round them up and move them into a coop or will they they instinctually know not to fall ?
Falling out is actually unlikely to hurt them and is what their mom intends for them to do. In the wild, Muscovies nest in trees. After the babies hatch, the mom flies down and calls to them, and they jump right out of the tree and fall all the way to the ground. I watched BBC’s “Life Story” recently, and the first episode shows two-day-old goslings jumping off a 400 foot sheer cliff and landing on hard rock. FOUR HUNDRED feet! It was amazing.
What could be an issue, though, is if they fall out before their mom is ready to leave the nest. I have had issues with this when I hatched babies in a chicken pen with an elevated platform. Several times, the babies fell out, even though there was a rim on the platform. They couldn’t get back up, so they peeped and peeped until I came to rescue them. (We have created a taller rim now.)
If you can rig something up to prevent them from falling, that would be great. Or you can move them as soon as all of them have hatched. Falling out is probably only an issue once the ducklings are active and ready to explore, so don’t be in too big of a hurry. Don’t move the nest if there are still eggs left because the mom will no longer sit on them if they have been moved.
Hope that helps!
Thank you! That makes me feel better. How long after hatching will they be able to jump?
The mother will decide when to leave. She will wait until all the babies are fluffy, active, and ready to eat. (They don’t need to eat immediately because they absorb the entire yolk sac hours before hatching.) I’m guessing this would be when they are two days old. You can still carry them down if you’d like, because jumping from a height always carries a risk even if the ducklings are built to withstand it. But it’s probably fine to let the mom make the decisions, too.
For the heat lamps that are in my shed above the broody ducks how high above them do they need to be? Like right by them or up high enough on the ceiling?
The right height is whatever height causes the right temperature. Are you talking about adult ducks? If so, the exact temperature doesn’t really matter. Anything above freezing is fine, really. Cold doesn’t bother ducks. The broodies will keep the eggs warm themselves.
I live in Miami, FL. We have a lot of Muscovy ducks in our neighborhood. Unfortunately, I live on a busy street and they like to cross it, and many get killed. I have stopped traffic many times to get mama and babies safely across. About 3 weeks ago, my husband and I were taking our after dinner walk (which seems to be around the same time the Muscovys are out roaming). At the house at the end of the block, there was one tiny duckling (no bigger than 4 inches) chirping and walking back and forth constantly in the front yard. I was worried it got lost and my husband said the mom would find him. Two days later, I came home from work and there was a duckling swimming in my pool. I think it was the same duckling. Fearing it was too small to make it on its own, I brought it in and has been living in my enclosed patio since then. I went to the feed store and got some unmedicated chick/duckling starter food. I also give him mealworms/shrimp mix as a treat and he LOVES it. My idea was to release it once it had its feathers and able to make it on its own. He’s (think it’s a male) grown a lot and is losing his fuzz. He used to run away from me but not anymore. In fact, he follows me around. Now I’m concerned that he’s gotten too attached and won’t be able to make it on his own when I release him. What are your thoughts on this?
Unfortunately, no, hand-raised ducklings won’t be able to survive on their own, at least not immediately. It’s possible to rehabilitate them into the wild, but it can be difficult. Are there any wildlife rehabs that could take him? You could perhaps also research and learn how to do that kind of thing yourself. Whatever you do, it will have to be gradual. I have never rehabilitated an animal, but I would suppose that you will have to find some area in the wild where he will have buddies and where you can come every day to feed him (at first, anyway), so that he won’t go hungry. Beyond that, I don’t know.
Hoping the best for you and the duck!
So.. After you go on about how great muscovies are as pets… You talk about eating them. Typical! 🙄
It wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t at least mention it. Some of my readers have ducks only as pets. Some only for eggs. Some only for meat. Some for eggs and pets. Some for eggs and meat. Some for all three, believe it or not. I try my best not to be biased in any area.
Wealth of knowledge here! So for the first time, we have 3 female Muscovy and one drake. We are not really interested in hatching any ducklings so we have been collecting eggs daily. One of the girls has gone broody anyhow. Is there a way to bring her out of it? She is starting to chase our Khakis and the other Muscovy girls. Thank you.
Unfortunately, with Muscovies, you’re going to have to count on dealing with broodiness regularly. They’re pretty notorious for going broody. Here are some methods to break broodiness. Some ducks will give up almost instantly, while others can take up to a week.
1. Destroying the nest by removing the bedding (and eggs) works for many ducks.
2. Putting a large object in her nest is a very successful method, as long as she cannot just go around it and sit beside it.
3. Putting bottles of frozen water in her nest works quite well, too. It won’t hurt her; ducks often swim in nearly frozen ponds. But she expects to feel warmth and warm eggs, and if she only feels coldness, it often convinces her to stop brooding in that location.
4. Locking her out of the area is always successful, but it does often take time for her to completely give up. She will be convinced there is still some way to get into her nest, and she will pace around and around it looking for an entry.
Hope that helps!
Good morning since its getting warmer well trying to get warmer here in Michigan lol am i still needing to use the heat lamps inside my shed area for my broody ducks while they are nesting on there eggs? If so should i keep it on 24/ or just at night
It depends on how cold it is. If it dips below freezing, you should probably use it. When the babies hatch, it might need to be a little warmer.
During the day its around 70+ and at night its over 55+
Then they actually don’t need a heat lamp at all. Ducks are very hardy and do well in cool temperatures. The eggs will be fine too. The mothers keep the eggs warm all by themselves.
Good morning i was wondering how soon after the ducklings are hatched (last night only 6 so far) are they ready to leave momma? Right now they are still under her keeping nice and toasty warm. But i dont want the male adult getting to aggressive just incase can i put in a tote with heat lamp if i start to see that in him? I dont see that now which is good. Momma has been very good at keeping them safe
Congratulations on your new ducklings! They leave their mom when they’re independent and fully feathered, usually when they’re two to three months old. The mother duck is likely to protect them from the drake, but if he gets aggressive, then yes, you should move the mom and her babies elsewhere. A tote with a heat lamp would work if you just had ducklings, but since you have a mom as well, it might be too small. They’ve already imprinted on their mother, so you can’t separate them until they’re nearly adults.
Hope that helps!
Hi, I have 6 Muscovy ducklings. They seem to be pecking at each other and are drawing blood. Is this common or should I be concerned.
No, that’s not normal and not good. Do they have plenty of space? What is their lifestyle and environment like? Stress, overheating, and crowded environments can cause this. It’s often called cannibalism, especially when it becomes severe. How old are they? If they’re older juveniles, maybe the problem is that you have too many males and they’re fighting? Is there just one offender or are they all doing it to each other? If it’s just one, then he/she will probably need to be separated. One bully who is bullying for no apparent reason often cannot be reformed.
This article is aimed at chickens, since cannibalism isn’t very common in ducks, but it might help you: https://articles.extension.org/pages/66088/feather-pecking-and-cannibalism-in-small-and-backyard-poultry-flocks
Let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you can solve this problem!
In the US, Muscovy ducks are considered an invasive species. An owner may raise them for food production only (not for hunting). Similarly, if the ducks have no owner, 50CFR Part 21 allows the removal or destruction of the Muscovy ducks, their eggs and nests anywhere in the United States outside of Hidalgo, Starr, and Zapata counties in Texas where they are considered indigenous. The population in southern Florida is considered, with a population in the several thousands, to be established enough to be considered “countable” for bird watchers.
The neighborhood next to me has a pond and they decided to get 3 rescue ducks about 3 weeks ago – they are all male muscovy ducks. One of them keeps wandering away from the pond to our street. He’s a dirty mess, and his caruncle went from bright red to pale brown in 3 weeks. He’s super friendly and seems like he was someone’s pet and doesn’t know how to live on his own at the pond. Any idea what’s up with the color change of his caruncle? (I broke down and got some duck feed for him in case it is due to malnutriton – we already have chickens so why not feed the duck too).
Do you think it might be anemia? Anemia can cause caruncles to become pale. It’s caused by iron deficiency. I believe more greens and free ranging can help to treat it, but I’m not really familiar with health problems so you should probably do more research.
Besides that possibility, I have no idea. I hope you find a solution!
Thanks for the suggestion. That’s the only thing I’ve seen on the internet as a possibility. It is dramatic how quickly it changed from bright red to dull brown. One of the other two ducks is starting to turn brown as well. I’m definitely willing to try supplementing their diets!
Hi , my girl has hatched 9 ducklings which are now 4 weeks old we did lose one a couple of nights ago for no apparent reason . Today I noticed the Drake chasing the ducklings around the pen pecking the m , I am worried now that he might have killed the little one . Shouild I take him out of the Pen and if so will he be able to go in with the chooks which are next door to the ducks ,he will be able to see the others through the wire . Or should I take the ducklings out and away from their mum and put them in with the chooks ? Thanks for your help Judie
So sorry for your loss. I have heard of drakes killing ducklings before, although I don’t think it’s common. It’s not really safe to put a drake in with chickens since he can kill them if he tries to mate with them (it’s fairly unlikely that he will try, but I don’t think it’s worth risking it). It would probably be better to put the ducklings and their mom with the chickens, if that’s possible. I think they’re still too young to be without their mom. The drake should be okay even if he’s sort of alone for a few weeks. The mom probably isn’t giving him any attention as it is, now that she has babies. You can try reintroducing them in another month or so and see if they get along after that.
Hope that helps!
yes never leave male ducks with new babies, they can kill them
Hi, made me sad when I read that their meat is dark and tasty and is compared to NY sirloin etc. I didn’t realize u breed them to eat them. Anyway… I feed these beautiful creatures and they are so freaking smart . They know my car, my know my voice and every morning at 7:30 am and 5pm they wait at my door for me. Those are the times I go to work and come from work. There are two female ducks and 4 males. Few were killed by cars, one died in my arms, the hardest moment in my life. Love animals more then my own life. So, the female ducks keep having babies (around12) and none of them make it alive. They are all so cute and start eating even that small, but the falcon gets them. It’s so heartbreaking. I live in a townhouse, don’t have any land or property. These innocent souls just hang around my place. I truly don’t know what to do to save them. Tried chasing falcon away but he always comes back. And you are right the mommas love their babies and are so protective of them. Any suggestions… p.s. I live in Florida and people here are pure evil and hate these ducks. I fight the neighbors all the time. The world we live….
I’ve received so many comments and emails from people in Florida trying to save or care for feral Muscovies. It really is a sad situation. The problem is that Muscovies simply don’t belong there. They’re an invasive species and they do cause a lot of trouble, so I guess I can sort of understand why many people don’t like them. The ducks’ lives are so hard, but they manage to reproduce and carry on no matter how many die. No one seems to have a good solution. There are the people that hate them and just want to eradicate them, and then there are the people who try to feed them. I don’t think either solution is perfect, since I don’t think they deserve to die, but feeding them, in the long run, could only make the problem worse. I’m not saying you shouldn’t feed them–they’re alive right now, they need food. It just won’t help the overall problem in the long run.
Since I’ve heard of so many people in Florida who do love these birds, I wonder if you could try to find and meet other duck lovers and set up a group or duck rescue or something? Here’s a rescue in Florida that you could consider helping: http://www.duckhaven.org/get-involved/ Even if you don’t have the property to set up a rescue yourself, maybe you can find other like-minded people and help one get started.
Muscovies don’t belong there and it is near impossible for them to have a good life in urban areas, even if they are fed by kind people. If there was some way to remove the Muscovy population from the wild without killing them, I think that would be best. Perhaps a combination of taking the eggs and rescuing existing birds would work best?
Where I live, we actually have true wild Muscovies. They live in the jungle and that’s where they belong. Of course they still have predators, but they live a totally natural life and people don’t bother them. Last year a couple of them discovered my flock and started hanging around. They left for the winter to molt, and this year they came back and brought all their babies. They don’t stay full time, but they just like hanging out with my flock from time to time. They’re so beautiful and I agree that Muscovies are incredibly smart. I love them too and I think that if you try hard enough, you can find a solution, or at least the start of one!
P.S. I personally don’t breed my ducks for meat, but the article wouldn’t really be complete without that bit of information.
Hello, I have lived on the lake in SC for the past 4 years and recently noticed a lone Muscovy duck coming up onto my property. I believe someone has dropped him off in the area. It’s a large male and he’s very friendly (I can actually hand feed him) My concern is he’s very isolated. He will follow other geese around but they want nothing to do with him and there are no other ducks. I am concerned for his safety as there are fox and coyotes in the area. Is there some type of shelter that I could put outside that he would utilize for protection and could shield him from the elements? Also, should I look to purchase a couple of others just so he has company? Will they remain in the area where he is or will they fly off, etc? Any thoughts or recommendations?
Yes, you could purchase a couple of other ducks for company for this drake. They will probably stick around, but there’s no guarantee unless you clip their wings. The drake may not stay forever either. Since he seems to be tame and used to human contact, it probably means that he isn’t able to find all of his own food, so it would probably be best to feed him daily. People who dump ducks often don’t seem to understand that domestic ducks can’t fend for themselves.
Ducks don’t use shelters on their own. If you make him a shelter, you’ll have to put him in it yourself if you want him to stay safe. If you want to keep him yourself as a pet, it might be worth it.
You could also consider finding a home for him or taking him to a rescue. Then he’ll hopefully have a permanent, safe home with plenty of company.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you find a good solution for this drake!
I have 3 female muscovies. They have happily spent the spring/summer hanging around in the yard, bathing in the pond, or sitting on the doorstep waiting for me to get home.
Now that it is fall, and it is getting cooler they don’t want to go out of their coop. I have been waiting until after lunch until its warmed up before forcing them outside. By 5pm they are waiting impatiently to get back inside. And they have a lot to say to me when I let them in. I assume it’s not all nice things they are saying 🙂
Is this normal behavior?
Any input would be great!
I’ve never heard of this before. Most people have the opposite problem–their ducks hate going inside and will sit out in the snow or in half-frozen ponds gladly. Muscovies are more sensitive to the cold, however, and are prone to frostbite. Is it already going below freezing where you are at? Perhaps they are just being smart and know that they will stay warmer inside. I would suggest not forcing them outside if they don’t want to be out. Perhaps you can leave the door open during the day so they can enter or leave at will. Or perhaps there’s just not much forage anymore and they’re only interested in being inside because that’s the only place they can find food. I don’t really know. I do think it’s a bit unusual. Are they acting normal in other ways–eating, drinking, preening, etc.? If they don’t want to be active while they are outside, perhaps there is a deeper problem and perhaps it’s not even related to the weather.
Do they have any cover outside? Ducks don’t like to be out in the open any more than necessary. I know it’s still odd considering they were fine during the spring and summer, but it’s something to consider. My ducks spend most of their day under a trailer or under my trees. The lower the foliage of the trees is, the more they like it.
I can’t say for sure why they’re acting that way, but I hope this helped or gave you some ideas.
Hello Hannah, I have 3 females that are 10 months old. About 1 month ago i got a male that i was told was just a couple of months younger that my females. My females have been laying eggs for about 2 months. I figured once i got the male that the eggs would be fertile but they are not showing fertile when i crack them open plus i have been watching and it doesnt look like the male has been successful at doing his part. I hate to keep taking the eggs because i know they want to sit on them. Apart from just being patient with the male and hope that he catches on soon is there anything i can do? And will he eventually be successful?
Thank you for any advice you may have, Vicki
I’m so sorry for the terribly late reply. Maybe everything is going fine for you now, but I’ll answer anyway. It sounds like the eggs should be fertile, so it’s odd indeed if they’re not. Here are the only possibilities I can think of:
1. Are you 100% sure he’s a male and not a female?
2. Maybe he’s younger than the seller said and just isn’t old enough yet. I think that’s a bit unlikely though, since by the time they look like adults, they’re generally old enough to mate.
3, Young drakes aren’t always immediately fertile. I don’t know how long it takes before they are. I’ve also seen some people say that they’ve had drakes and ganders that weren’t fertile until their second year, but I know it’s never taken that long for my drakes.
3. Some ducks are seasonal and don’t mate much during winter. Even if they do mate, they are not as fertile.
4. Do your ducks have swimming water? Ducks mate easier in water, and some breeds can only mate in water (although Muscovies are not one of those breeds).
5. Maybe they actually are fertile? Maybe you’re not doing the fertility test right? Here’s a link with pictures in case it helps you: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/how-to-tell-a-fertile-vs-infertile-egg-pictures.16008/ You can also try incubating them for a week to see if they start developing.
6. Maybe your drake is a mule. Muscovies crossed with other breeds are mules and are infertile. However, mules don’t have caruncles, or very little, so if he’s a mule, you should be able to tell by looking. Or perhaps even the females are mules.
7. Maybe something’s just plain wrong. Maybe he’s not healthy. Maybe something is causing him to be uninterested in breeding. Maybe he’s just plain infertile.
One thing I’d like to mention: do you have a plan for what you’ll do with the babies once you do start getting fertile eggs? Too many people hatch without a plan and then panic when their glut of new young drakes start fighting and killing each other and the females. It’s very difficult to rehome extra male Muscovies, and many people aren’t comfortable with eating their ducks. If you’re not going to eat the males, you’ll either have to start a bachelor flock of only males (they usually don’t fight nearly as much if there aren’t any females to fight over), or somehow find homes for them. I don’t think it’s bad for people to breed their ducks, but please don’t breed unless you have a solid plan for what to do with the males. If you just let your ducks go broody and hatch whenever they want, you’ll soon have a hundred ducks.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you still have any questions–and I promise I’ll reply quicker next time!
I have a baby Muscovy duckling and she makes a lot of noise and I can’t tell if she is hungry thirsty or just tired, but pecks at everything, how do I know what she wants
Ducklings need food and water 24/7, and they will certainly peep and cry if they’re hungry and thirsty. Make sure she always has food and water.
Is she cold? For the first week, ducklings need about 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can reduce the temperature by 5 degrees every week.
It’s also likely that she’s lonely. Ducklings don’t do well alone. If the duckling imprinted on you, then she will cry every time you leave and will only be happy and quiet if you’re holding her or if she’s very near you. I hatched goose eggs last year, but only one hatched, so we had to be with the gosling all day long to keep him happy. Please get another duckling as soon as you can! In the meantime, it will help if you put a mirror in the duckling’s brooder, and perhaps a small stuffed animal as well. Ducklings feel a little less lonely if they have a mirror.
Hope that helps!
I live in Miami and during the first week of April the female Muscovy that was always in our yard had ducklings. She lost most of them but only two remained. I noticed she would leave during the day and leave the two ducklings and come back in the afternoon. I started feeding the three of them, mostly the ducklings since they were in my yard most of the day. Suddenly, a week ago I woke up and did my morning and went to feed them but none of them were to be found and there was still food from the night before. The mother duck has been coming back for a few moments every day around the same time in the evening and then leaves but the ducklings have not returned and I haven’t seen them walking around the neighborhood nor the mom, only when she comes to my yard. I wonder what happened or if there is an explanation. Also, the mother does not let a Drake mate with her and takes off flying when one approaches her.
Sorry to hear that. Every female animal only needs to have two babies that make it to adulthood and reproduce themselves in order to maintain the population, so when an animal has dozens of babies over its lifetime, you know that the reason they have so many is because most of them will die.
It’s sad, but it’s how it works. Feral Muscovies have particularly hard lives, since they’re an invasive species and thus many people try to get rid of them. I guess the ducklings could have been run over by a car, killed by humans, attacked by dogs, attacked by hawks or some other animal, gotten stuck somewhere, or who knows what.
Mother ducks often refuse to let drakes (and even other female ducks) near them while they’re taking care of ducklings, so that sounds normal too. 🙂
What enclosures do you keep them in? We have lost two broody ducks to foxes after they have wandered off to find a nest site.
Sorry to hear that.
Personally, I don’t have much of a problem with predators. We have a fence around our small farm, but our birds free-range within it during the day. We have two dogs, as well as trees and structures the birds can hide under. They spend the night in mobile pens.
This isn’t sufficient for many people, though. Many poultry raisers need a secure coop for the night and either a fenced run, a mobile enclosure, or even a completely covered enclosure for the day.
Electronet is a popular option. It’s electric, as the name implies, which keeps most predators out. It’s also extremely easy to set up and move, so you can easily move their enclosure to fresh grass whenever you need to. It should keep foxes out.
If it’s just the broodies you’re worried about, it’s also possible to build small floorless crates or fenced boxes to set over them. The only issue is that foxes can dig, but it might still help.
Hope that helps!
I had a male Muscovy show up at our house last April. He is super friendly and seemed to be very happy swimming around and foraging in our pond. He started visiting our deck area tapping on our windows! He apparently decided to stay! As time went on, he seemed lonely so we got him a female friend. Well, needless to say, here we are 7 months later and we have a small flock! Mamma found a way under our house and laid her eggs. Several weeks later she came out with 8 babies! Sooooo, now its getting cold out and I’m worried they wont be warm enough. We built them a house with nesting boxes but they wont go in there. The pond is freezing at night and I don’t know how to get them to stay in their house. Any suggestions?
Yeah, ducks don’t naturally like to sleep in houses or coops. Chickens do automatically, but ducks need some training. They rarely go into a coop or house of their own will.
The best solution usually is to feed them in their house, once or twice a day. They’ll have to go in to get their food, and then you can shut it up for the night to keep them in.
Most ducks are just fine swimming in near-freezing water, but Muscovies can get frostbite. They should be all right in their house as long as it is protected from wind BUT also has good ventilation. Ventilation is extremely important, especially for reducing the chances of frostbite.
Also, I know this is unrelated, but in case you don’t already know, at some point, you’ll need to decide what to do with the drakes the duck hatched out. You need at least 4-5 females per drake, so you won’t be able to keep them all.
Hope that helps!
We will give it a try this next weekend. Hopefully they will get use to it. Thank you for your help. Is there any foods we should be careful not to give them? The love treats and I try to get them healthy things, like grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries….. anything you suggest?
Everything you’ve listed sounds fine. Most fruits and vegetables are great for ducks, although they do have personal preferences, so some individuals will hate things other individuals love.
At the bottom of this article is a list of things you shouldn’t feed ducks and why (bread, cat food, spinach, avocado, chocolate, onions, dry or undercooked beans, citrus, raw green potato peels, and anything salty, sugary, or high-fat): https://www.raising-ducks.com/feeding-ducklings/
Some of those things (such as bread and onions) are okay in small quantities, but in general they should be avoided.
Also, treats shouldn’t comprise more than about 10% of their diet or it could cause an imbalance.
Mealworms, peas, and watermelon are a few other treats you might try. Many ducks absolutely adore them.
Thank you Hannah, that is very helpful. Can you tell me what kind of food you recommend for Muscovies. Ours definitely forage most of the day, but this winter they won’t be able to do that. Everyone I have asked has recommended cracked corn, there must be something better for them during the winter.
No, not cracked corn! People feed that to chickens as a supplement for the winter because it helps keep them warm, but it’s not enough on its own. It would be like you eating nothing but bread. It’s mostly just empty calories.
If you can find waterfowl feed where you live, that’s the best.
Chicken feed is also fine, and that’s what most people use, myself included.
It’s also possible to mix various grains to create a relatively balanced diet, but you’d need to do some research to be sure they wouldn’t become deficient in anything. I’ve tried feeding my ducks wheat, oats, and sorghum to supplement their free ranging, and it worked all right for adults, but the protein level was too low for molting ducks or growing ducklings.
I’m in Tampa suburbs and neighborhood has A LOT of muscovies as we have several ponds throughout subdivision. My yard backs to one of the ponds. My question is…is there a way to deter them from digging all the holes in my yard? I moved in just over a year ago and am finding it very difficult to keep up with the small hales they dig everywhere.
Also can you deter them from landing on lanai screens rooftop if maybe place a fake owl or something? I have had to replace a lot of screens from the sharp nails and weight.
Digging holes? I’ve seen ducks dig holes for nesting, but those aren’t scattered everywhere. They do also drill and dabble in mud and puddles, which can sort of create holes. I think that’s what you mean. They’ll only do that if the ground is wet. Dry ground and thick grass cover should prevent them from making holes, but I don’t know if there’s much you can do about it.
I don’t think a fake owl would work, at least not for long. I’m not sure what you could do about that either. I did find this thread online, but I’m not sure if it’s helpful:
Sorry I can’t be more helpful! I really don’t know.
Thank you….What a wonderful sight. I discovered a male and female Muscovy duck last April while doing my daily “Covid” walks along a water parkway. The couple were friendly and loving and would run or fly to me when they saw me coming. I brought them duck water pellets and cracked corn…
Then the female (Gracie) laid eggs and within a week was killed by predators. I cried for days and George the male was devastated just staying close to where Gracie was killed.
I have found a farm sanctuary that will take him and it is a wonderful place but the problem is catching him….I visit and feed him daily He will eat from my hand. Lately he has been trying to hang out with some geese and mallards. I know he’s lonesome. Can you advise me on the best way to capture him. So I get him to see new forever home. He deserves it
I’m so sorry for the late reply. I haven’t really been online lately. Have you been able to catch him? I’ll be glad to give you tips, but it’s been so long I figure you’ve already succeeded! I hope he’s happily settled in at the farm sanctuary and has gotten over Gracie’s loss. Ducks definitely do notice and seem sad if a very close companion dies or leaves.
Thanks Hannah for writing back. Yes I was finally able to capture George and he is doing well in his new home. He even has a sweet new lady Muscovy friend. All is well❤️
That is wonderful! I’m so glad to hear it. Thanks for the update!
I have a female Muscovy that is laying on about 12 eggs. I only have 2 females and 1 male. I know that not all of those eggs are hers, and when she’s in the pen area, she keeps pecking at the other female. She’s not even near the eggs! Her stance is aggressive, and keeps following the other one the yard, aggravating her. Any idea why she does this?
That sounds like normal broody duck behavior. They get very grumpy when they’re broody (or going broody). I don’t know why, but it’s common for them to chase away their companions even when they’re not on their nest.
HI, I live in springfield Illinois and saw a muscovy duck in our local park pond 6/9/21. Very exciting.
Hello. I came across this site while trying to do some research. Here goes. I live in a community with a lake and parks surrounding. After moving in, I noticed many moscovy ducks around. Now I am not a feathered friend person, as a matter of fact I have a deep fear. Moscovy are so large so it makes it tough for me. I have a favorite of the family that hangs around my patio. I named her Howard, at the time I didn’t know male or female, started feeding them, and one day Howard started getting excited to see me, flying to greet me (absolute terror) on my window ledge waiting for treats. Just recent Howard showed up with 4 babies. I noticed she hadn’t come by, now I knew why. A few day before a new male came around and started pushing his weight around. And by that, I mean aggressive behavior. Mohawk, the head male in the family, was being chased by this new male at feeding time. Not allowing him on the grass, he even took his girlfriend away from him. It was very sad to see. I started paying attention more because Howard showed up with her babies, I gave them some food and wham! The new male started after Howard, she flew away from her babies. I actually went over and stayed with the babies guarding them, she ended up flying back to them. The next day, she came and there was only 3 babies. I figured one may not have survived. Fast forward a week and I saw her today coming towards my patio but no babies, I said no that can’t be her, where’s the babies? She walked very slow to me, you can tell she was different. Enough for me to pick up on. A couple hours later, her 5 pm ritual, still no babies with her. She looks sad, looking around and waddling very slow. She kept making her soft chirp chirp, when she directed her babies. It was heartbreaking. Is she looking for them? I guess my question is, I can see one duck. Gone or dead or something but all 3 at once? I just feel for her. The mean duck is still around, could that be something? I hear they have such great memories, wouldn’t she find them if she was scared off? Is she mourning? The ducklings were small. They were still fluffy yellow. I know it’s nature, but odd that it was all 3. Lastly ever since this new male came around, it’s changed to where all the family that’s been there for years, are getting chased away. He literally stands guard and prevents the from eating the bugs in the grass. Is there any way I can get him to relocate himself?
Most ducklings never live to adulthood. Many don’t even survive their first few weeks. So to me, it doesn’t seem that odd that all three disappeared.
I don’t know if the mean duck had anything to do with it, but it’s possible, since it’s not unheard of for Muscovy drakes to kill babies. I know there are some animals that, upon taking over a new territory, will kill any babies that aren’t theirs. I’m not sure if that’s exactly how it works in Muscovies, especially since drakes killing ducklings is pretty rare, but maybe.
Here’s another possibility: sometimes a duck will leave her ducklings and tell them to stay quiet and stay put. It’s pretty interesting behavior. They’re very obedient and will stay nearly frozen until she returns. If the drake chased her again, perhaps she told the ducklings to stay and flew off. And while she was gone, a predator ran across them all alone and vulnerable and easily took them all. But she wouldn’t even have to be gone…a predator could have gotten them right in front of her. I’m not sure if she’d still try to call for them if she saw what happened.
And yes, the soft chirping was definitely her trying to call them to her. I’m not sure about mourning. Ducks definitely do mourn longtime companions. They might not feel quite the same about ducklings. In my experience, a duck that has lost her ducklings will “get over it” pretty quickly (or will seem to, anyway), after a few days. But it’s still sad and I’m sure she’s distressed.
The new male does sound overly mean. Catching him and relocating him yourself would be the best way to get rid of him, probably. If you can’t do that, you could, I don’t know, try to frighten him off? Like wave a broom at him and make him fly off whenever you see him? But I don’t know if it would work. Or maybe he’s just asserting his dominance and everyone will get along with him within a few weeks? (Other than Mohawk. He will probably not stay around if the new drake does.)
I hope this gives you some insight and I hope the duck family will return to peace soon. Hopefully Harold will have more success with next year’s ducklings. 🙂
Hi, I currently have five 11 wk old Muscovies & am desperately looking to rehome the 3 males. Of the two females, one is quite aggressive towards me, even figuring out she can reach above my boots to bite me. Will she become more aggressive when all the males are gone or aggressive towards the chickens & geese? I’m also planning on letting them free range asap, hoping more space is what she needs; will they return to their coop at night, should I herd them in until they are older & at what age are they more capable of fending for themselves? We have lots of trees & sheltered areas for the other poultry to find safety at night that should suffice for the muscovies as well. Thank you.
Are you reinforcing her aggression in any way? Do you know why she’s being aggressive–is she scared, or is she demanding food? Females aren’t usually aggressive to humans unless they’re broody, or unless they learn that pecking/biting gives them attention/food.
Either way, I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think removing the males will make her more aggressive. She’s only aggressive towards you, right?
They may return to their coop if they expect they’ll get food in there, but in general, ducks don’t like being cooped up, so they’ll quickly get used to being out and will have to be herded back in before long. I don’t recommended leaving poultry out at night, but if it’s working for you with the other birds, then I suppose it will work for the Muscovies too. They’ll be safer once their wings are grown and they can fly (around 16 weeks), but you may have to clip their wings to prevent them from flying away, which they are very prone to doing.
I’d keep them cooped up at night until at least 16 weeks, personally.
Hope you can rehome the males and everything works out. 🙂
Hi Hannah, There are a couple of Muscovy ducks in my neighborhood. A female came out yesterday with 8 baby chicks. Today she came out without her chicks. where are they? I hope she left them in her nest. I am afraid that the chicks got eaten by predators. I hope I am wrong and she came out to eat and left her babies safely in her nest? Do mothers leave their babies to go and eat?
No, ducks almost never leave their babies behind. They abandon the nest not long after the ducklings finish hatching. Ducks don’t feed their ducklings. They just follow their mom and find their own food, with her encouragement and direction.
Most ducklings die. That’s why they hatch so many every year. It’s really too bad if she lost all of hers so soon, but it’s not terribly unusual. 🙁
Hi there. Where I stay they have 3 groups of various age ducklings. The 10 day olds have just been let out on a daily basis with the 6week old & yesterday one was drowned in the small pond with bleeding marks. I’ve seen the older ducklings mother pecking at the babies so can we move her out of the duckling field now & will the older ducklings still peck at the babies? They can’t all be let out as the family have a jack russell that periodically kills small creatures so probably best to wait until they can all fly out. Also there’s now 3 day old ones so will the 2 younger groups be ok to mix once they’re about 10days old? Thanks
It can be difficult to mix ducks of different age groups. The two younger groups are a week apart, right? Yes, they can probably be mixed without much trouble. I wouldn’t mix the younger ones with the 6-week-old ones or with adults, if possible. The 6-week-old ducklings will probably still peck the younger ones even if their mother is removed.
Flying won’t guarantee the ducks safety–can’t the Jack Russell be kept inside or something while the ducks are out?
Hi, I have a few Muscovy ducks in a private pond. I raised a male which I have not seen in awhile. Can it be possible for a one year old male to change so much that the coloring on their backs even change? Maybe I’m grasping at straws here, hoping one of these other males is him but with more black on his back than before.
They don’t change colors, but over the year, some black ducks fade to brown, and then when they molt, they become black again. It’s also common for them to gain more white feathers. I did have one drake who was mostly black during his first year, gained a lot of white feathers after his first full molt, and then got a lot of the black feathers back after his second molt. Overall, though, their color and pattern can’t change very much. Belly pattern and color never changes.
If his wings weren’t clipped, there’s a high chance he flew away, or that something else happened to him.
Hope that helps! I can send you picture examples of the kind of changes I mentioned if you would like.
Hello! My husband and I are new Muscovy duck owners. We have a male and a female. They are free-range and not caged. The female just hatched 15 of her 16 eggs. The ducklings are most likely 2-3 days old. Our concerns are: 1) her nest is in our barn loft, safe but pretty high off the ground 2) how does the female feed the ducklings while they are still on the nest? should we be assisting her with feeding them? 3) at what age will they leave the nest? 4) is she going to push them from the barn loft, should we assist her in moving the ducklings to our pond?
I appreciate any and all feedback as we are very inexperienced. I figure mother nature will guide her through the mothering process without our assistance, but we just aren’t sure.
The female doesn’t feed the ducklings while they’re in the nest. Ducklings have to feed themselves from the very beginning. They have to leave the nest to get food and water. Usually, mothers will take their ducklings out of the nest when they’re 2-3 days old. And yes, they’ll try to jump out of the barn loft. In a natural environment, they’d land on dirt and grass and shouldn’t be hurt. In a barn, if they’re going to be landing on an unnatural hard surface, yes, I’d recommend helping them so they don’t hurt themselves.
Hope they’re doing well!
I’m happy to report the mother and ducklings have successfully left the nest in our barn loft and made their way to the pond, which was quite a journey in itself. It appears we lost 4 of the ducklings but 12 survived! She has found them a nice safe area with lots of cover and places to hide and all kinds of wonderful nutrition. I have some adorable videos or their trek I would love to share if you have somewhere I may send them.
We are asking about molting. We have a large tame Muscovite that flew in here 2 years ago. If he is hungry he pecks the back of your pant legs. You can pet him. He is losing all his neck feathers and some larger feathers. He seems afraid of the wind from our hurricane and is hiding in the wall of our pond. He is molting OR he is sick. He loves dog food and is eating well. Wild geese are his friends but they have left and he seems lonely.
Hello. I used to have a Game Farm licence here in FL where I also raised about every breed of Poultry and Waterfowl. I have told people for years that the only duck with brains and a true personality are the Muscovey Duck that I have I’ve owned. I did not breed Muscovy Ducks but would end up with injured or stray ones. I had them as a child too so I have always loved them. My other domesticated ducks were just plainly stupid I hate to say. And the Wild ducks stayed wild, crazy and flighty. My Muscovy Ducks all learned their names and would come from 1/2 a mild away when they heard me call them at feeding time. They were very inquisitive, (which all the other true ducks were not ) social and some very friendly and followed us everywhere. So believe others when they tell you they are the best duck. You will be very disappointed and bored if you breed others. I love your pictures of the birds! Sincerely, Cristal
Thanks for your comment! Yes, Muscovies are generally considered to be more intelligent than Mallard-derived duck breeds. I’ve never seen any studies or objective comparisons, but I think it would be interesting to find out how big the gap in intelligence is. You might be underrating other duck breeds, since obviously many people love them and find them to be intelligent and full of personality as well, but I think most people who have had both types of ducks say the Muscovies are different.
I have a pair of Mulards that actually seem marginally more intelligent than my Muscovies–maybe due to hybrid vigor? I also have geese which are definitely smarter than Muscovies.