I'm seriously considering getting a few Muscovy ducks. I want to try breeding turkeys and would use the ducks as surrogates since turkeys don't have a good reputation for raising their own young.
What kind of coop-like shelter do they need? How much land to support their foraging needs (roughly, as I know it varies heavily, but do I need closer to 1/20th acre per duck or 1/2 acre)? Will a Muscovy hen go broody without any drakes around? Do they do well on layer (chicken) feed for winter or when forage isn't sufficient?
How many turkey eggs could each Muscovy hen incubate? Assuming they hatch can I expect the duck to do a good job raising the poults until they are ready to move to their own pasture, or do I need to brood them like poults ordered/purchased locally?
We had Muscovies for almost 40 years.
You need corn. Yes, they eat tons of insects, but in winter, be ready with the corn.
They fend for themselves. They went in the big barn where the cows were.
Hens were always laying and hatching in the hay bales at drop of a hat.
They average about 12+ hatching on a nest of almost 20 eggs- Temperature dependent and how often she leaves to drink water or get corn...
They could have a better success rate if you confined the hen to a big empty water tank and made a sturdy lid for her so she could mother without having to worry about predators. We had a pond about 1000 Feet away but they mostly stuck to the 2 Acres around the barnyard. (50-75 ducks sometimes on less than 2 Acres of ranging through cow pies in summer, eating fly larvae. That was the purpose of having barnyard ducks).
Years ago my neighborhood boasted a flock if muscovies. Somebody had let them go feral. There were usually about 20 to 30 something at a time. They appeared to be kept under control by predators. One nested on my porch. 13 eggs, 12 hatchlings, all raised to adulthood. I wish I'd taken a few for my own. Somebody called animal control, they took them to several ponds miles away from each other.
Anyway, they wandered at will over about 20 rural acres. They only flew about 5 feet high, and that seldom. What type of fence do you think would contain them to an acre? And do you think about half an acre would feed them over the summer? (amount of space not taken up by garden, house, and pond) No animal poo to pick thru. Do they need to continue to be excluded from a garden after plants are established? The local wild geese don't like my pond, too much high growth? Do ducks need a mown edge to find a pond attractive? Mine used to have a mown edge, but the geese still didn't like it, larger ponds are close by, a couple of acres away. My pond is about 100 x 30 feet. kinda. Shared with my excellent neighbor. Well populated with snakes and turtles and toads and frogs...
Muscovies are a bit more like geese than other ducks....they can subsist mostly by grazing on grass, and will often not bother with corn or other feed when this is available. So if I were to keep them again I would try to maximize their forage, since this is usually free, and only give them grain, etc. during seasons when grass won't grow at all. This also means they need to be securely kept out of the garden when plants you value are growing in it! You can clip the feathers of one wing to keep them from flying, though in many situations that ability can be a good thing to give them a chance to escape ground predators. Oh and beware the claws on their feet! I had one open my hand up one time. The big males are hard to wrangle....grab them by the neck or one wing...not the legs like chickens because the legs are weak and you could break or disjoint them. But be quick to bear-hug them or whatever once you have a hand on one because they will swing those feet around and claw you, rather than try to bite or club with wings like geese!
BTW eventually I plan on getting Muscovy ducks, so following this thread with interest.
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