But Muscovy ducks are from Mexico, Central and South America and they do not withstand the cold the same as the Mallard derived breeds in North America. They can adapt well, but cold winter winds can be very hard on them and their feet will freeze if they do not have adequate bedding to insulate them from the cold. So, here on the farm, the Muscovy ducks sleep with the chickens in the insulated coops. The rest of the ducks and geese sleep in an uninsulated but wind protected coop. Both coops have deep bedding to protect the birds from the cold coming from the bottom. The North American breed ducks tuck their feet under their wings and rest on their down breasts, seemingly impermeable to the cold, however; the Muscovy ducks do not tuch their feet in.
I have not yet eaten the flesh of a Muscovy duck, but it is purported to be delectable and succulent and the most delicious of all duck breeds. The hens lay very large eggs that are almost the size of small goose eggs. Now, those I have enjoyed many times! One feature of the male Muscovy ducks is his mating capabilities. The male penis on a Muscovy duck is about 7 to 8 inches long and can achieve erection in a fraction of a second. Hmmm. The thing is, the male takes a long time to position the female, dancing on her back and holding her head down with his bill, certainly not comfortable for the female. Her cloaca spirals the opposite direction of the spiralling penis, so she can reject a suitor if she so chooses. Interesting!
The offspring take a very long time to mature, grow slowly and are not fully adult for over a year. North American ducks, on the contrary are mature in about 20 weeks for some breeds and a little longer for others. They do not tend to breed their first year though. This year, The Fat Ewe Farm, has 6 new Muscovy ducklings so far. Though the ducks will become broody, they tend to fight over nests too and the result is often nonviable eggs that have gotten cold too often. I just removed Jemimah from a nest that she sat on for a month and a half. The eggs were so rotten they were stinking through the shell and one exploded when I touched it. She moved to another spot and was still trying to hatch a single egg she found there, which I removed. When the ducks sit too long, it invites parasites such as lice and mites that thrive on the moist warm environment. Gross!
The Muscovy drake that is on the farm was hatched on the farm. It is hard to sex the ducklings, well, for me it is, until they are more mature. The males are a lot larger and both sexes grow red wart like skin, called caruncles, around their bills and faces. The bumps on the caruncles can freeze and the duck suffer or die from the complications. The very best feature of Muscovy ducks though, is that they eat tons of flies and are excellent fly catchers. The fly population in the farm yard is greatly minimized due to the copious amount of flies the ducks eat, thank goodness. Many farms are ridden with hoards of flies, but they don't have ducks.
Muscovy ducks are a great addition to the farm, even though they require a little extra care and consideration in the winter and good protection from the winds year round. I am pleased to have them here at the Fat Ewe Farm!