Muscovy (or Barbary) ducks are perhaps most common type of domestic duck that you will find in Dutch and Belgian gardens. Since I was very small my family has often had Muscovy ducks, which we bred for meat and eggs. Several years ago, we decided to keep less animals in the garden, so ducks needed to go because they do eat quite a lot. That was several years ago, and in the mean time we have experimented with all sorts of breeds, all meant for butchering. Among these other breeds were the Jumbo Peking duck and the ‘Hollandse Kuifeend’. These are breeds I can compare with the Barbary ducks, on the matters of meat and egg productions. I hope to find some Khaki Campbells for sale in our part of the world so I can compare to something more common in the Anglosphere.
Before I introduce the beginnings of my new Muscovy flock, here are the best and worst things about the Muscovy;
– Muscovies go broody all the time, and they are great at it!
– Great egg production, when the ducks aren’t broody you can expect 5-6 eggs per week.
– The meat tastes great, and there is a lot of it on a carcass.
– The drakes can be aggressive towards other animals.
– They grow very slowly compared to the pekin duck.
– The eggs have to incubate for about 35 days instead of 28.
For my duck-project, I bought my ‘first’ new Barbary ducks at a small livestock market. The mother (known henceforth as Mom-muscovy) was sold to me along with her 11 little ones, which were one week old. At first I didn’t really believe the seller when he told me the mother was only just over a year old. In the pictures of her with her little ones you can see how terribly pale she is around the eyes and beak. I’ve always been taught that was a sign of a very old, sick, or malnourished animal. The other animals that were being sold by the same seller were all the picture of health, so I decided to get the duck along with her entire nest. I put her in a separate enclosure with the Indian Runner ducks to keep them all safe from the chickens and predators.
I saw the mother’s health get better so fast! She had access to lots of greens and a ‘bath’, over the course of only a few weeks the duck’s color returned to a healthy-looking corral-red.
Right now, Mom-muscovy has found a spot for a new nest. She is sitting on 13 eggs, which should hatch in 35 days.