Monday, April 1, 2013

They're so ugly, they're sorta cute. Muscovy ducks!

So, how does a trip to the feed store end up with us driving 45 min in the other direction to pick out a pair of adult ducks? Well, I'll tell ya.

Headed to town for our weekly trip for groceries, feed, etc. LJ mentions he heard a rumor that our local feed store has Muscovy ducklings. So, we had the entire trip to town and back to ponder adding Muscovy ducklings to our menagerie. Plenty of time to discuss how we could critter-shuffle... the rest of the pullets could go out in the chicken tractor with the others, ducklings could go in the little trough in the shop... and so on. We hit the feed store on the way home, and the gal that runs the place basically said, "Where'd you hear that we have Muscovys? We've never had those. We have some tufted ducklings, though!" (No thanks... freaks of nature) So, as chick and chicken chow was loaded into the truck, I could see that hubby was very disappointed that they had no warty little mud-demons. In that short ride to town and back, he'd already imagined a life with Muscovys.

Soooo... I suggested he check craigslist. He found a guy with ducklings and mature ducks and we set a time to head out. Ran the feed home, did a couple chores, and headed out.

The place was... Interesting. There were chickens free ranging, a huge house full of doves (or pigeons... I dunno), and a huge pasture full of geese and ducks. I'd driven by the place a hundred times and never knew it was back there.

Turns out the guy only had two ducklings... Yeah. That wasn't gonna work. So we went out to take a look at the birds in the field, followed by the bird-dude with a huge salmon net.

This is where things turned into both a new stock and a rescue operation. A number of the birds out there were gimpy. All of them were a bit ratty. There was plenty of shelter and feed, but if they had a pool or pond to bathe in, I didn't see it. We'd come this far, so we picked out the healthiest male and female we could find, both chocolate in color, with white heads. The guy netted them, and we carried them back to the truck. A little ratty, but bright-eyed, quick on their feet, and no bumble foot (we checked). $45 later, a pair of ducks in a dog crate in the truck bed, and we were headed home.

We were told that the female was about a year old, and that the male was about two. In both pics, the female is on the left. She's much smaller than the male, and has a smaller mask. The male is HUGE. I'd guess he weighs around 12 or 13 lbs. the female is maybe 2/3 his size.

These birds are like no ducks I've ever seen. They sorta remind me of turkeys, with their long tails. They are super quiet, hissing at most. They also raise the crest of feathers on their head when spooked. The meat is supposed to be outstanding, and I've read a number of articles where it was compared to veal.

Muscovys are also supposed to be excellent mothers, and that's our hope, as we'd like to have this pair produce meat birds for us.

For now, they're quarantined in one of the chicken tractors. We'll observe them for a while to make sure there's no obvious signs of illness or bugs. Eventually, we'll integrate them into the flock.

I gave them a tub of water, and they were in it within about 30 min, and turned it black with dirt. I think they spent most of Saturday preening/cleaning. Poor guys. One good sign... I saw the male mount his new lady-friend more than once. They settled in pretty fast!

Still debating names. Considered going "chocolate" themed, since they're both brown. KitKat (Kit and Kat) is in the running, as are variations of M&M (Mick&Maggie, Merle&Molly, etc).

For now, they're "the new ducks".


Misty Meadows said...

They look beautiful!!! I have been trying to talk the hubby into letting me have ducks, again. New place no buildings or pens.But if there is a will there is a way. I hope they both live long and healthy!!!

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

I loved having ducks but I had Khaki Campbells (I wanted the eggs.)

Muscovy's have always, to be honest, freaked me out. But if what you say about the meat is true, I'm glad you got 'em!

It's that lumpy bumpy head thing. Freaks me out. Don't know why.

Don't you love the CL freaks? You think they are on the level until you get to their land, then it becomes a twilight zone episode!

Paula said...

Crunch, after the Nestle's Crunch bar. Bumpy. Rocky Road is bumpy too.

I've read good things about muscovies- the quietest breed because they don't quack. But I'll be interested to know what their meat is like because when I lived in Florida, I was told they don't taste good. But that may have been a rumor to keep people from eating them.

Muscovy ducks are ALL OVER the part of Florida where I lived, which was Jacksonville. They might be all over the state. But if you know Florida, you know that it's full of retention ponds, because that's how they drain areas for building. And those ponds are full of muscovy ducks.

oh - and frogs, of course. Turtles, mosquitos, etc. But tons of ugly, bumpy, muscovy ducks.

kpannabecker and jpannabecker said...

I have lots of friends willing to give me free muscovy ducks. I may take them up on it this year. I laughed (sorry) when I read you paid $45. If you lived closer I'd get you some for free. From good homes too. Congratulations. I wish you good luck with them.

Lisa Lynn said...

Congrats on the new ducks! How about Hershey and Kiss? ;-)