Another muscovy owner piping in: Mine also hunt rodents. There was also an interesting study here in Canada (forget which university) showing that muscovy ducks are more effective than fly tape at controlling flies in dairy cattle barns - don't know, but they sure do eat a lot of insects. Mine don't go in the barn unless I put them in, act unafraid and allow cuddling but seem more wild thn other duck breeds we've had (malllards and Indian runners). Mine share housing with the chickens, but I don't leave water in the barn for them to make a mess with (I put the water out first thing in the morning and then all my birds free range). I liked all the ducks, but the muscovies have been my favorite. I like how they are assertive (they've chased away straying dogs) and they are great flyers. My only big issue is that they do need a girl to mate with. I started out with two boys (told I had a matched pair of ducklings, but they weren't sexed properly) and they really hassled the hens until I found a girl. I'm getting another five ducks,and four buff Brahma bantam chickens, with my own hens brooding eggs. I must have gone a little crazy, but I'm loving it!
DUCKS! Advice wanted - Page 2
We also raise meat rabbits, and our last batch of Muscovies tore up the insulation! They realized that they could tap the bottom of the insulation, and little mousie snacks would fall down for them to eat. ;o) We needed to replace the insulation anyway, lol.
So our muscovy hen Duck Duck sat on her clutch of eggs and Goose, the proud papa waited patiently while she refused to get off the nest. Her nest was AWESOME, too, complete w/lots of guinea feathers. She hatched out all 17 eggs. One duckling got out of the nest the first night and died, though. Then one just disappeared, but so far we still have 15. Duck Duck and Goose take them everywhere. Yesterday my dog (lab) Sunshine was in the barn while my dd and I were letting our chicks out of their brooders for the first time. My dd yells for me to come look and Duck Duck was repeatedly attacking my dog! Sunshine was shaking like a leaf because she knew better than to snap at that duck, but whatdoyado when you are being attacked? She warned Duck Duck several times to stop and I finally had to shove (gently of course) the duck off of her so she could get out of the barn! Poor doggie! I really want to get a video of that!
thanks for your pictures chicky2! so cute....we have avoided a rooster with our chickens and buy chicks from the feed store instead of hatching, but maybe we will try hatching ducks? do the male ducks have the same issues as roosters? i imagine there's no crowing? are they less aggressive?
We adopted two 5 mo old Khaki Campbell ducks last fall. We think they're actually more Indian Runner than total KC, though...maybe mutts. They really have that tall winebottle shape and run instead of waddle. We always thought we'd start with chickens, but when the ducks became available, we just couldn't resist. We LOVE them! They're both females and look like they'll each lay an egg a day for about 10 mo out of the year with no extra night light. When they're not laying, the two of them go through a 50lb bag of food in about 3 mo. Now that they're laying, they're eating more, so maybe about 1 every 2 mo. We have lots of coyotes, bobcats, weasles, owls and hawks here, so we have them in a 12x12' outdoor pen fully enclosed on sides and top with wire fencing that's burried into the ground about a foot. My dh built them a 2x4' night box that's wired on one half and enclosed with plywood on the other half, so they can self-regulate with temps. We figured they'd need it for both nighttime predator protection and cold protection. They had no problem with minus 13 this winter and actually stayed in the open-air side of the pen for part of that night. Folks we talked to around here said they only ever had lean-tos for their ducks. We just herd them in each night, easy. We use straw for bedding in the box and in the pen. Seems to work fine, although I think I'd rather have wood shavings -- I understand that ducks can be susceptible to fungus that grows on wet straw. I have "the glove" that I remove the poopy straw from the box each morning into a compost bin, rake the outside pen every couple of weeks. They never smell, but we're in the SW, so maybe it all dries up quickly? The soil they're on drains very well. For eastern or clay soils, I'd recommend putting a layer of pea gravel and/or sand down -- might help with the smells.
We have a kiddie pool for them that we siphon onto our berry plants about once a week. The plants are doing great. Because their poo is watery, it can be added directly to the soil with plants -- won't burn them.
I've found them very easy to care for and super entertaining. They're very personable. They actually seem happier if we're out in the yard. We just sit and watch them and call it duck tv. They're not very good kitchen scrap eaters. They love all the greens from our garden though -- even the ones that have bolted, so we feed them those and any bugs/grubs/crickets we find. I can't wait to find out if they eat squash bugs! Dh saw one nab a yellow jacket out of the air the other day and eat it.
They're pretty quacky -- mostly in the morning when they're ready to be let out of the box. We're on 2.5 acres and our neighbors still hear them; not sure if I'd recommend them for an urban yard.
We have 5yro and 8yro boys -- pretty rambunctious. The ducks let them catch them and hold them, but the ducks don't really like it. They love the boys feeding them greens, though!
In the end, if you don't count labor, we come out roughly even on costs, compared to buying organic eggs at the store. (we feed them organic feed) But we get all the joy of them and know they're living the high life.
What a great thread - I've so enjoyed reading it all (and seeing the photos!). We have 10 hens (chickens) now, and are planning to add Khaki Campbells to the mix in a few weeks. Well, not directly in the mix, you know, but get them in a brooder then :) Anyhow, I was thinking of getting a half dozen, but now after reading all this, maybe I'll start with less, just 3 or 4 and see how I like 'em. Any tips for co-habitation of Khaki Campbells and chickens?
We've sadly found that our ducklings are hawk bait :( I shoulda just bought more to begin with, because now I don't want any more brooder babies this season. But we're down to 2 Khaki Campbells from the original 4 from hawks snatchin em up. Guess they'll stay in the run for now, instead of free ranging... Please someone tell me that when they're full grown, the hawks won't mess with them??
Once hawks learn about a nifty food source, they come back over and over again. Same with raccoons-- except they attack at night when chickens and ducks are sitting...erm....ducks.
Try a darker duck breed, like Call or Mallard, or another mottled breed. Good camouflage. Just like chickens, some duck breeds have better self-protection instincts.
Our duck plans have had to be pushed off another year. We are in the process of moving, and it is doubtful we will have the infrastructure for new chicks or ducklings. So, by Buff Orpington pullets will have to wait until next spring as well. We are barely able to house the new flock as it is, and the new garden is going to require a lot of work--we still have mounds and piles of debris, native plants to relocate, just generally trying to make the immediate area not look like the mud pit of a monster truck rally!
After revisiting this thread I am seriously contemplating getting a bunch of ducks to run in our barnyard and perhaps pasture. I would love to not have so many flies around when I want to milk (although I do milk outside mostly now). I also had no idea about the rats...We have an excellent mousing cat who does get rats- but why not be proactive right?
I grew up with Muscovies and totally echo all the good things people have had to say about them. We had a pair of them that lasted for ages... only a drake and his duck, who brooded often but never hatched. I think he was sterile, maybe. Or maybe my parents just didn't allow me to find out about any ducklings they didn't want!! Anyway, we had plenty of predators, being in the deep deep woods and isolated from everything but major wildlife...weasels, badgers, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bears, occasional wolves, plenty of hawks, ospreys, eagles... Our Muscovies were just fine. They were always free range and were actually both pure white. So there you go. They rocked. They ate tons of mosquitos and flies and plenty of frogs, little mice and moles... I miss those Muscovies!!
We tried ducks this year as well and got 10 Welsh Harlequins a few months ago. I have to say, ducks rock!
We have them in a small pen with an enclosed coop that they get shut up in at night to help with flying predators. During the day they free range the property. We didn't plan for them to free range, they did have a nice huge area with electric poultry netting to protect them, but once they saw us come out the back door they'd slip through the fence and run up to us. They follow us around and we find ourselves quacking at them all day long. If we're not sure where they've got off to we quack and inevitably we hear several quacks and a they'll come running.
I'm not sure if it's the breed or what, but they're very social with us and excellent foragers! They won't let us just walk up and pick them up, but they'll eat from our hands, follow us around and if there's a large bird flying overhead and we're closer then their pen is they'll run to us for protection.
We have small 'pools' set at the base of our fruit trees for their water and swimming and a dedicated waterer in their coop. We sure need to get water lines run out there though, ducks will go through some water alright!
We just got Musckovies this year. We also have many chickens. I love their personality. I keep telling DH that and think he thinks I lost it. They are so nice. I just put a kiddy pool out for them last week and they are enjoying it and are so much cleaner now.
It is true about the eating mice thing. I haven't seen my ducks do it yet but my cluck has killed many mice. It was crazy the first time I saw her do it. She was just smashing him on the ground!
"They wag their tails a lot too, they like to talk." - Yes to this too. They kind of waddle about and babble and shake their tails.
And yes about the ducks grooming each other. Our ducks live with our big flock of chickens and they will snuggle up to a chicken and start grooming it, too.
Sweet! I can hardly wait for ducks next year. I think my girls want the itty bitty ducklings (usually call ducks) at the feed store. Me, I just want my Buff Orp chickens back. We have a flock of banties and they are cute-and-all but they are no BOs. The accidental full-size cochin hen is so calm and sweet, I think she's kinda dim, but in a good way.
We are slamming out the chicken coop for the Big Move this weekend, and will expand from there. Dh says he's done with building and wants to get back to gardening, so a duck hutch is all mine to build next year. Guess I better learn how!