Thursday, February 24, 2011

Farm Friend Friday #4 -The Muscovy

If you are like me, it’s likely you’ve never heard of a Muscovy duck. When I set out to purchase my first farm critters at Verde, I knew I wanted a few ducks and some chickens, but I knew nothing about the myriad of choices awaiting me.  Three-years ago, I simply thought ducks were...ducks. I have since learned differently.


I visited a farmer who lives “out Wayne,” in Wayne County. “Out Wayne” means it’s a drive from Huntington--but I digress. Anyway, I always love visiting this little farm and looking at the different animals. The Wayne farmer primarily sells chickens, ducks and rabbits. I was looking for chickens and ducks on my first trip. What I found were muscovies.


I saw these large “ducks” with varied colors and big red masks on their faces with warty growths, cute right? I didn’t think so the first time I saw them. Honestly, I was a little frightened by them because they looked and sounded very Darth Vaderesque--especially the breathing. Is that James Earl Jones or a muscovy? "These are muscovy ducks,” the farmer said.  “They’re great for farms, eat a lot of flies and are quack-less." Hmm, quack-less ducks that eat flies? It has to be a good thing.


I brought home three muscovies that day. Two of them were black and white pied, and one was grey and white pied. At the time, they were “juvies” or juveniles because they were in between the duckling and adult bird stages. None of the three had the red mask either. I later learned those develop in adulthood. Once I got home, I did some research on the muscovy and after three years of raising them, we truly love these interesting birds. So, here is the low down...

1. Muscovies are not really ducks at all. Of course they look like ducks, but they don’t sound like ducks. According to conventional wisdom, then, these webbed footed, water loving, waddling walking creatures were not ducks. In order to be a duck, you have to look and sound like a duck, right? These birds are tree perching waterfowl that come from South America.

2. The red masks on their faces are called caruncles. At first they seem bizarre but once you get to know your muscovies, you fall in love with those beautiful red masks.




3. They really don’t quack. They make a puffing type sound and it’s not a loud sound at all. Sometimes they squeak. It’s actually quite pleasant and sweet.

4. They forage for most of their food and eat a large number of flies daily. Farm studies have repeatedly shown they can reduce the fly population by 80 to 90 percent. It’s fun to watch them eating, the way they move their heads to catch flies on the wing is quite funny.

5. Muscovy are hardy birds and disease resistant and require little effort to keep them. We feed them a little chicken scratch in the morning and evening and they do the rest. It’s funny to watch them come running to the barn porch at the sound of the cowbell, which means it’s feeding time.  Suddenly, the farmer appears from the barn holding his feeding scoop and sometimes they’re so excited they meet the feed in the air as it’s falling from the scoop. It’s as if the farmer is a maestro and they are  an extremely captivated audience waiting for the music to begin.

Farmer and Shep are up on the porch
6. Male muscovies are called drakes and girls are called ducks--some call them hens.

7. It’s good to raise them with shelter. They are cold hardy, but because of predators and extremely low temperatures, it’s best for them to have a safe haven at night. I can tell you this is sometimes difficult because once they find water and outside roosting, they don’t like to come in.

8. They like to roost. Every evening, just like our chickens although maybe a little later, they fly to their roosts for the night. Some will stay on the pond, but most prefer a roost on our fence, bear cage or rock wall.



9. Muscovy mothers are wonderful and systematically teach their babies to clean their down, eat and most importantly, swim. There is nothing cuter than a mama and babies walking to the pond for the first swimming lesson. I cried when I saw it. And as if they weren’t wonderful enough, muscovy ducks are often used to sit on chicken eggs, and are also able to raise baby chicks, too.

10. Daddy’s are very involved in raising their young. It is a rare sight to see mama and her ducklings out wandering around without the male drake supervising and ensuring safety. He usually waddles along the perimeter and herds his ducklings wherever they need to go.

Class is in session
So, what can be better than a quack-less duck that eats most of your flies and needs very little care from you? I can’t think of a thing.

We are doing a post next week to follow up on the great questions you asked about peafowl. Stay tuned.

This button is available to grab in our sidebar
Welcome to our fourth Farm Friend Friday (FFF). We are so excited to have you join the party and visit the wonderful posts shared here. Spread the word, and feel free to copy the code below so you can post the entire list of linkies to your post, as well as ours--which makes this a blog “hop.” I would love to see us get 75 farm lovers to join us for our next FFF, March 3. Simply click below and follow the steps. Be sure to visit the partygoers and leave them comments so they know you stopped by to see them.

Let the farm fun begin...



68 comments:

Pondside said...

We used to have Muscovies as well - I miss them! We found them to be excellent mothers and they don't just eat flies - they are excellent at ridding the garden of slugs!

kimberly wheat said...

'Class in session' is the cutest thing I've ever seen!! You'll be happy to know that yesterday I spent 30 minutes with my 6 year old granddaughter wrangling one of her 4 chickens, Oreo, back into the coop. I had tears flowing I was laughing so hard! Their new girls have had 6 eggs between them, and the kids want to "save" them and not eat them!

Michaele said...

I had no idea they came in so many colors or made that sound. I was told a few weeks ago, however, that unlike ducks, they don't need water to breed. I'm gonna get me some!

Nancy C said...

Such an unusual looking duck, Amy. We have magpie ducks, which look a bit similar -- they are black and white.

Ducks are so much fun to have in the barnyard! :)

Inger said...

What a wonderful post. I loved every word and picture.--Inger

Kelsie from Our Country Home and Studio Photography said...

Oh be still my heart, Mascovies are my favorite of all water fowl (including ducks hehe)...I am trying to convince hubby this is the kind we should have be he is resisting because, get this...he thinks they are ugly...grrr@him.

Your very well written post might just be what I need to convince him.

I will be back later tonight after baby is in bed to do my Farm Friend Friday post and join the fun...For now we are heading to town for Dinner at BBQ Bills...Mmmmmm mouth is watering already...

Chat soon...Blessings Kelsie

Teresa said...

I think I might have to find some of these fly predators. Very interesting.

Millie said...

I don't know if I'd want to share the barn with those big birds. They look pretty cranky.

TexWisGirl said...

I do miss our muscovies. They were a real set of clowns. I loved how they would set out across the yard in a "search line" to flush out the bugs. Sadly our Catahoula hounds 'eliminated' them after we brought Thelma & Louise home.

Staci said...

What a great and informational post! Loved the post about the peafowl as well. They are added to my dream sheet (my husband will thank you later). :)
Staci

Amy said...

Amy,
I have enjoyed both posts on the peafowl and muscovy and have learned alot...and, I especially like the pic in this post with the farmer, Shep, the muscovies, peacock, donkeys.

Amy

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

That is so interesting! I had no idea and neither did my husband. So I told him all about your post. WOW. Makes me wonder why more chicken and horse farms don't have them around. Seems they'd be a huge benefit with all the flies that are in those situations. Thanks Amy!

Laura @ Our Wee Farm said...

Aw your muscovies are so cute. I have a friend who had them :) I do love the idea of quiet ducks! I have 19 Silver Appleyards right now and the din they make is unbelievable.

Enchanted Moments said...

My first ever duck I brought home in a shoe box was a male muscovy...whhooooaaa...I thought it was just a yellow fluffy duckling..well, that little thing grew into a HUGE white Muscovy drake and used to chase me down the back, and then attach itself to my leg...oh, the scratches...I eventually got him a mate...and batches of 12 babies at a time....I eventually had to give them up...as I lived in the suburbs and my hissing man and his lady were taken off to a farm and lived happily ever after...So, no, not ducks at all...as I found out...x

Enchanted Moments said...

Lol,I just left a message here...and then popped back and realised you had visited me...I feel a right goog, I dont even have a farm, and linked up to Lauras linky not realising....lol
And that is so great ..I have 100 followers...lovely to meet you..and thanks so much for stopping by..x

MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College said...

I LOVE this post, it was so interesting and full of cute pictures. It makes me so happy to read about how much you love your animals. Reading things like this (especially your blog) just makes me smile!

Country Gal said...

I have seen them but never really knew about them, thanks for the info you learn a new thing every day ! Have a great weekend!

Sharon said...

We had a Muscovy (1) at the cabin, husband brought him home from an auction. He was a black/white and HUGE. He looked like a boat on the waves, as he walked around the yard.

Interesting post, Amy!

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

Oh Amy, what wonderful birds and pretty to boot. Thank you for all the interesting information on Muscovies. I have learned so many facts about the goings on and habits of all your wonderful animals. One thing about farm people is that they are so generous with their information.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Another interesting post where I've learned something! I've seen Muscovies, but knew nothing about them--You've made me a fan!!!

Sharon said...

Fantastic post, Amy! I love learning about your farm animals.

Michelle said...

Your posts are so great. I am learning all kinds of things whenever I visit here! Lovely ducks and I like the mask.

Dreaming said...

The "not-ducks" that my friend had that chased my duck away, and were killed by neighborhood dogs were Muscovies! I never knew any of the information you shared. But now it makes sense why they met their awful fate- they didn't want to come into the barn!

Tonya said...

Oh, WOW!!! I desperately want some of these! I knew nothing about them! How sweet! I used to have 2 pet geese when I was little and loved them to death: but my father did not like the mess they left on the driveway, so I had to part with them. I'd love to have some ducks on our farm pond! And pea fowl: always wanted them. I'd love to learn more. Your blog is so fun! Thanks so much for this great way to see into other farms. Sooo wonderful, and for the time you take to come around and comment at our blogs. What a wonderful farm you have!!

4RRanch said...

love your blog and love finding new blogs with the links you provided, thanks.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

We LOVE our ducks! But i thought they were water gargoyles the first time I saw them. And the babies are adorable. My favorite thing is being the duckling lifeguard while they are in the pool!

Terry said...

If I ever live in a duck friendly environment, I would love to have Muscovies.

Larkrise garden girl said...

Thanks so much for all the info I didn't know they don't quack.Plus the info about getting rid of flies was interesting. Keep up the good work.

Maureen said...

I had head the name but knew nothing about them. How sweet are they!

Jen said...

Love this post... love muscovies :) I didnt have a clue about ducks before I got mine last summer.

Maura @ Kisiwa Creek Photography said...

Hello MM!
Looks like the start to another great FFF! You've got me thinking about your Muscovies...I think they'd be a good addition to our farm once we're done all the farm clean up. Maybe next year. I LOVE your photo's...you've got such sweet animals on your beautiful farm. Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!
Maura :)

Anonymous said...

I love your ducks! You have a great farm! I love this Farm Friend Friday, what a great way to see how things are done at other farms!

Nancy K. said...

Fascinating! I had know idea...

Janice Grinyer said...

Thank you Amy for adding me - I have spruced up and i am ready ;) !

Everytime you write on your lovely animals, I want to buy truckloads of them...but then with the temps we have been getting (high today was -5!) I would have a truckloads in the house...

You make Muscovies the type of ducks you could take on vacation! Im in awe of them now!

Buttons Thoughts said...

I love your ducks. I find it relaxing watching ducks in a pond. You have nice ones. B

Unknown said...

Thank you for the great Muscovy education and the beautiful pictures as well!

Vintage Country Girl said...

What a very unusual, but pretty looking duck/not a duck! :-) Love reading about all your animals. This will be the third week I've joined your friday party. Still deciding what I'm gonna post up about!

V.L. Locey said...

I had a Muscovy once. He was quite the drake let me tell you!

I`m so glad I finally got here on a Friday and can take part in the blog hop!

Lynn said...

Cool ducks! I just had to join in Amy! If my post doesn't fit, please just delete it. Happy Weekend:@)

Anonymous said...

What a great informational post.
I have heard of them and even have seen a few in person but now I am seriously thinking about adding to our farm family. We can do with fewer flies.
My trouble would be that we have a river across the road. How do I keep them at home?

matty said...

I adore muscovies! They are so pretty and such cuties! We had Excaliber and Princess. It was a sad sad day when the fox got them. I still grieve....

Leontien said...

Thank you for the lesson in Muscovies!!! I loved to paint birds when i was younger and i feel the itch coming back looking at your pics!

Thanks!
Leontien

thecrazysheeplady said...

Hmmm - I'm intrigued. My only experience with large non-chicken farm birds is a nasty group of geese that only liked my mother - apparently not uncommon. Our pond are out back though and I'm sure they'd want to be back there and out of the "safe" zone near the barn...

Terra said...

Your Muscovies are handsome with their unique feather patterns.

Mama Mess said...

Awww! I contacted a Muscovy breeder a week or so ago and she just emailed me this morning to tell me the girls were laying and she was putting my eggs in the incubator today! I'm so excited and can't wait to get our ducklings. What a great post!

Flat Creek Farm said...

Very interesting! I have to say, before this post I thought of them as the 'ugly duckling'.. but now I see them as beautiful in their own way :) And they eat flies! Marvelous. They truly are wonderful critters! Thanks for hosting FFF.. I finally joined in today. Maybe next time I'll learn how to do the whole blog hop link thing! -Tammy

farmer said...

I love my Muscovy ducks,they are a fabulous bird.
We used to worry about ticks,but not anymore,they clean up on all the bugs around and the barn hardly has a fly.
I hope I linked to you right.. this Farm Friend Friday is a great idea!!

Johanna Gehrlein said...

Hello,
I just love that post because I am a fan of Muscovies. I plan since years to have some, they are not only quack-less, good against flies and slugs, but also delicious to eat. But we never managed to buy some and I guess my garden is to small also. So I love to read about them. You have so many nice animals on your farm. Love the donkeys on the sidebar. Too cute.
Greetings, Johanna

Boho Farm and Home said...

I know of quite a few people who raise Muscovies right here in downtown Phoenix, they are actually a great bird for the urban enviorment for all their perks, pest control, no quacking, etc. Their eggs are huge and rich in flavor too. Great post and very informative. Thanks! Caroline

Alica said...

I really enjoyed this post about the Muscovies. I must admit that I am one who knew nothing about them before. I can see how you'd fall in love with those faces...and reducing the fly population sounds like a real plus too! :)

Janet, said...

Well, I learned something today. A quack-less duck, who would have thought. All kidding aside, I like ducks. I think I would miss hearing their quacks, though. I loved the picture of the little ones.

Brenda Pruitt said...

What interesting colors! Thanks for the info!
Brenda

EG CameraGirl said...

Muscovy ducks sound wonderful! I think they are quite attractive.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that muscovies have never interested me, but you have changed my view! Do you think they would eat bot flies? We have a horrible problem with them here and they really bother our sheep. I didn't realize they roost like chickens! So educational :)

-Heidi said...

The ducks are so beautiful!

Thank you for hosting FFF!

Mary Ann said...

Amy! Dang IT! I've been reading blogs for TWO HOURS and it's 12:17 AM!!!!! :-) A great Farm Friend Friday!

Sharon said...

I'm looking forward to spending time reading back through your posts. Thanks for your visit and for hosting the FFF.

Laura said...

We have a pair of Anconas and a trio of Rouens - they are such fun to watch! The eggs are great for baking at high altitude, too!

-Laura at TenThingsFarm

Fi said...

I just love ducks and wish we had somewhere we could keep them. Such great personalities!

Rebecca said...

I just love seeing all God's wonderful creatures on your farm!

fromsophiesview said...

Lovin' yer farm...only wish I could "Come on Down"...oh well, reading is the next best thing! Thanks for sharing...Sophie a Labradoodle enjoying the fr fr fr fr freezing winter in eastern Canada! Cheers anyhoo!

Jim said...

Now that is what we need here in the summer!!! Muscovy 'ducks'! No more flies and mosquitoes!!!!!
New here and think I'll 'stick around' a bit!

Velva said...

I love farm life ( or at least the idea of farm life). I am learning so much each time I visit your blog. I need to share with a friend your post on Muscovies. I think she would really enjoy it.

I am thinking maybe my Homeowner's Association won't notice if have a couple Muscovies in my backyard (laugh).

Great post!!! Love your farm animals.

JoyceAnn said...

Hi Amy ~ Great post about the muscovy ducks , it was really interesting. I've been wanting to add ducks to our Farmette and although they're not exactly a duck , it sounds like they might be the perfect addition. We could use some fly eating critters around here. Thanks for visiting my blog and for hosting Farm Friend Friday , it's always fun to meet like minded people.

~ Farm Blessings ~

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Don't know why but I have heard of that duck! But that's all I knew, thank you for all the information!

Welcome to the Sarabeth baking team! It will be fun!

Mary

KathyB. said...

I am going to have to enter your Farm Friend Friday, what fun! We had a Muscovy and it perched on the roof of our home. We also discovered that although they do swim, they do not take to water like ducks. They are very interesting birds and this post was very informative and cute too ~

Kelsie from Our Country Home and Studio Photography said...

I have exciting news...After reading your post hubby is rethinking his stand on having mascovies...though he did add they are still ugly lol.

*happy ducky dance* Kelsie

Anonymous said...

Too cute, just too cute! =)

I kept forgetting to join in & when I got your email the other day I went back to my meme list at the top of my page & realized I'd deleted FFF... I didn't mean to do that & don't know how it got deleted... but, I'll join back in this week & I'm so sorry it was overlooked... =(