I have raised chickens and ducks and want to sing the praises of the Muscovy.
You do not need a lake for Muscovy ducks I had a baby bath which I changed once a day for them the bath in and water trough for drinking. They do not quack (which is great for close neighbors). The females can and may if they hear other ducks quacking but the males can only hiss at you.
They have a lovely dark meat which is the lowest in fat of any ducks because they are not related to mallards – they originate from South America and are tree ducks. Roosting high up in the trees and spending minimal amounts of time in the water means they do not need that layer of fat to keep them warm. They are the only breed of duck not directly related to the mallad.
Oh and if you have problems with insects they are awesome at catching flying bugs. The Russians imported them for their bug consuming capabilities.
The Ladies are good layers for ducks and they make great momma ducks.
The males can be aggressive but not a problem for me. I raised them all from eggs. When Sammy (my man duck) would lower his head and start his hissing approach I would take him gently by the neck swing him around, squat down behind him (to which he would raise his head in suprise) so he was caught between my knees and give him a big duck belly rub. This usually gave me a few minutes peace (from his disgust of being duck hugged) to do a few things before he would start again. He didn’t like my husband at all because I was one of his girls and husband was some(duck)man to be reckoned with.
Him and Sophie have been given on to a lovely small holding from which I can visit (it was the offspring which were raised for meat. If I am breading for meat I have a bad habit of naming my breeding pairs but never the off spring. Sammy and Sophie gave me some great giggles. Sam was the duck and only afraid of one thing. That thing was Soph when she was sitting on her eggs.
She was a cantankerous old witch when she was broody. Once a day, usually after I had dumped and refreshed their baby bath she would come off that nest in a foul mood. She would let loose, 24 hours of stored up duck stuff and if there was any duck that wasn’t already hiding I am sure the smell would send them into the nether reaches of the pen.
After relieving herself she would have a quit wash a huge drink and just shovel in the food. She would come off her nest ready to take on the world, feathers spread, back hunched and looking like a charging bull moose. After the food, water, bath and dump out of the way and the fun would begin. She would go back into bull moose mode. Wing feather spayed whole body puffed and she was off on the hunt for the perpetrator of her perdicament.
Men should be so lucky when they are hen pecked by their wives and partners. Muscovy pecked takes on a whole new meaning. Poor Sammy, my big rough and tumble man duck would cower in a corner as she started to stalk. She was looking for him and she let everyone who got near her now she was on a mission to balance the suffering she was feeling trapped on a nest 23.5 hours a day.
He would be trying to protect his head as she began her libations of unfair job roles. His head would be pushed into a corner, so only his neck was available to her. She didn’t care, neck was just as good as she began pulling feathers out. She would grab a beak-full, ending up with only a couple and spit them out and grab again. The whole time screeching at him.
I could just imagine her saying. “You put me in there, it’s your fault I have to sit on these eggs. You strutting around like you are in charge. I WILL SHOW you who is IN CHARGE!!!” and the girl was.
The whole moment was hilarious. Sammy would take his medicine and as soon as she had disappeared back onto the nest he would be strutting around like he owned the world. Those two and their kids gave me hours of entertainment.
Back to the serious side.
They are the size of small geese and are good flyers but need room to get lift with their large wings. I recommend them to anyone who is considering raising ducks for meat.
I did not want to raise ducks as pets and would never have intended to make pets of Sammy and Sophie but it is how I am. My intention to raise them for meat meant that I had to learn to also follow it through to the freezer and table.
It is not an easy chore for women to dispatch living things, we are nurtures by our very natures. But to deny that dispatching was part of the ‘raiding animals for meat’ concept felt as if I was copping out.
To make sure I was achieving this in the fastest most humane way I asked a friend for help. In exchange for a duck in his freezer he showed me the best way to dispatch a large duck or goose should that need ever arise.
I will save a description for dispatching for another day.