We have a separate area completely wired in to put them in when we first get them.
We will probably also get a small stock tank or kiddie pool to give them a bit of a "pond" though I've read in plenty of places that Muscovy Ducks don't require a pond and that it could actually be detrimental during really cold weather.
I will say that the parents get very squaky and protective of their young and will fly at you in attack mode if you get too close, though not every time. Maybe this is standard behaviour for most/all domesticated ducks...
the messy water thing was one reason why ducks left my place pretty quickly. no one had any clean water to drink unless I kept them locked up! mine were pekins though i don't expect breed would make much difference in that regard.
I figured I could set up a 50 gallon stock tank so the ducks could bathe and I would just have to dump and re-fill at least every other day or so. I'll just have to place it somewhere that the plants will appreciate the extra water. It might be the deciding factor around how often the paddock gets shifted around to water new areas.
After only one night, I think I will need to set up whatever stock tank or kiddie pool with an automatic top up float valve to be sure they always have fresh.
Very funny this morning when I went in to re-fill their water. One of the big males is very adamantly quacking at me but since it only like a whisper.
These birds I got don't seem to realize they are supposed to be good at climbing. I guess it's because they were raised in a kennel with no perches or trees. They spent the night huddled together on the ground out in the secure run rather than in the coop. I wonder if they will get the idea in a few days
All other domesticated ducks are breeds of the common mallard species. Muscovies are not. They are a species from South America, more like wood ducks, and apparently live in swampy areas. They like to roost as high as they can fly, and the hens will get up on top of any roof they like. The drakes are about twice the size of the hens, but I do see some of the drakes up there too.
The hens are great mothers.
They are usually raised for meat, the drakes can get up to 10 or 12 pounds, and they grow pretty fast. We haven't eaten any, but I understand it is tasty meat. If you know where they are laying, the eggs are very good, but they are not highly productive layers, and they really do want to hatch out each egg they lay.
As with mallards, they are messy with water. Any pan of water you set out for them rapidly becomes thin mud. It's true that they don't need access to swimming water as much as mallards do, but they love to bathe several times a day if they can.
Even though they come from South America, they are perfectly hardy with no shelter down to at least 0.
They are QUIET. They communicate by hissing and head bobs. If you hear a quack, it means something terrible is happening. Under normal circumstances, you won't hear any quacking for weeks on end. I think they would make great backyard birds for this reason.
Their big drawback is housing and control. I have not yet found any ideas for housing them that I consider satisfactory - caging up such a vigorous bird seems all wrong. But without some kind of control, they proliferate endlessly and cover everything in sight with duck poop. On the other hand, depending on where you live, the predation rate can be pretty high. But I don't like to spend money to feed coyotes, and that's essentially what we're doing - not to mention how inhumane it is. We have not found them tameable, and catching them is a real nightmare. Yet they like to hang out where we like to hang out, and everything gets covered with runny green poop.
I'm working on the housing issue, and I have some ideas, but no experience yet. Any ideas or experience would be most welcome.
As to the sounds. Yes they are normally very quiet. As I've noted before, the loudest noise I've heard from them is splashing in their bathing pool. However, I have twice now heard a sound like a distressed quack/squak, I believe one of the females was not entirely happy about mating one time and I heard that same sound out of her when we caught her to clip her wing feathers. One the one made such a sound during the process, the rest all just flapped and tried to get away.
Clipping their wings is definitely a two person operation, we would work together to catch a bird and then I would hold the bird while the other half trimmed the wing. Sturdy clothing is a good idea. Denim to protect the leg under their feet is a good idea. No injuries to people or birds took place during the process.
It's an old dog kennel of about ten by ten that we converted to a chicken coup with some nest boxes and perches and such. In addition to the ten by ten coop there is a wired enclosed run that is about ten by fifteen in front of the coop. We have a kiddie pool size water container out there for the ducks to bathe in but that is the main reason I want to expand them to paddock runs since emptying and re-filling the bathing pond tends to make the area overly wet. If moving around in a paddock space, I can shift the location of the pond and therefore water different areas.
Our original 5 adults has changed a little. We keep one Drake and 4 adult females. There are many offspring which we now take to a butcher what wants live animals for processing. Last time we took 8 still kinda small males to him and we got $50. He would pay more for the full grown males and 8 full grown females would probably only get us $6-8 each.
We are using the electric chicken netting as paddock fencing since we had a problem with possum attacking the duck nests.
Here is a link to my Duck TV Cam http://www.aquaponiclynx.com/aquaponic-lynx-live-garden-cameras/duck-tv But since they have the run of much of the yard they will not always be visible playing in their duck pools or duck river. There is a big stock tank in the background that you can't really see well in the picture but the adult ducks can get a good swim in that one. The shallow pools are more for filtration and so the baby ducks can have a swim too but the big ducks love the shallows as well.
Of course, it might just be him and I've no idea if other muscovies are the same.
On the plus side, he has an amazing character and seems incredibly intelligent compared to the other ducks.
I've had problems with id clogging. See the chickens were scratching mulch and dirt into it and the ducks like to bring mouthfulls of dirt into the water to swish for bugs. So it wasn't flowing so well and you add to it the duck poop and I was starting to get a clogged mess and the water wasn't flowing back down to the little pump very well.
This is still a work in progress but I'm still keeping the water clear enough to the stock tank pond and avoiding the stink but Improvements are still in order.
Next step in the plan is to get some water plants to put in the river nearer the pump end and fence/net the birds out so the water plants will be able to grow and hopefully filter the water but still allow it to pass down to the pump. Also a bit more distance between where the birds are allowed to play and where the pump is should allow more filtration with hopefully less blockage.
There is an auto top up valve down by the pump so when the thing totally blocks up, what I get is an overflowing duck river which is helping water and fertilize the bananas, but I'd rather not waste that much water or have to dig muck out so often.
I like to give my birds far more than they need and make them really happy so no I really don't have any idea what the minimum number of gallons per duck is. Our number of ducks is constantly changing as they are prolific buggers!!! Just had 8 more ducklings hatch two days ago. Gonna be taking 5-8 ducks of various ages to some friends Tuesday so they can try out raising and processing ducks. We will take the 3 remaining grown out males from the oldest group of offspring to the butcher this coming week and it is time to clip the wings of the next set of babies as they have learned to fly.
The smallest container I've seen a duck take a good bath in was probably a 25 gallon tub though I've seen the adult ducks try to bathe in a 2" deep plant saucer that I had put out for the babies.
If you have to go with small containers, a 25 gallon feed tub could serve probably 2 adult ducks (not at the same time.) I've used a car top carrier lid as a pond for the ducks before and a little plastic kiddie pool will work just fine. If you are up to dumping and re-filling on a daily basis a kiddie pool will serve probably 5-8 ducks just fine.
My Ducks seem to prefer sitting out on the ground. I suppose it would be possible to herd the ducks in at night but they really wouldn't like it, I've got electric net fencing to help keep predators out and it seems to be working where I am.
I'm in Florida so our climate is warm enough and the ducks don't seem fussed about rain, water off a ducks back and all. The chickens will seek shelter though.
Certain times a year they don't seem to need as much commercial feed because I have lots more greens from the garden to throw to them but the cool weather crops are running out here now and I didn't get much of my normal hot garden going very well this spring.
Now if I ever manage to get a place with more land/agricultural hopefully, I'll probably need to learn more about protecting my flock from larger predators.
Anyone know of a good type of dog and how to train them to protect a flock at night?
I have chix and muscovies in the same area with no problem. They mostly ignore each other. For some reason this winter for hte first time ever three female ducks have taken to getting into the chicken house at night. It is raised on stilts. Rain, snow, etc., really doesn't bother them, so this is a little perplexing.
In terms of water, the ducks will turn clean water filthy in a heartbeat- it is amazing how fast they can do it! I am convinced with the muscovies a lot of what I see in the water is actually food. They are probably really filter feeders- their beaks have little serrations that they sieve water through once they've taken a bite of food- which would explain why there appears to be a layer of food on the bottom of the water container, which is a kiddy pool in the summer.
This is, of course, a huge waste of water, since I don't feel like taking it out bucket by bucket to water and nitrogen-enrich different parts of the garden daily... there are a couple of YouTubes on "Duckoponic" systems, where you run the dirty water through beds with plants the ducks will eventually eat, then cycle it back as clean water for the ducks. THat is my goal for next summer.
Leah Sattler wrote:in my experience ducks make a huge mess within hours if provided a water source.
I rescued both Musckies and some Mallard-based ducks (runners and Campbells, not Pekins) and the Musckies make far less mess in their water bucket than the other do. I'll swear the Mallard-based ducks can total a bucket of water in 27 seconds, the Muskies bucket is usually OK for 2 days. If running the different groups together I'd get one of the small cup or nipple water systems so that you'd be sure there was always some "clean" water available. Ducks need deep water (whole head in) but chickens don't.
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