When people consider raising meat ducks, most will automatically choose the Pekin Duck. The Pekin is probably the most popular meat duck in the world. They are fast growing and their carcass dresses well. However, they can be very fatty and they, just like all mallard-derived duck breeds, can be very messy when they have access to water. The Muscovy Duck with few of the cons of the Pekin and some added pros, has become a favorable alternative to the Pekin Duck.
Muscovy Ducks originated in Central and South America. Although they were Domesticated hundreds of years ago, only recently have they been getting increased attention from backyard homesteaders. The Muscovy Duck is a rather large duck, the largest of the domesticated varieties with drakes weighing up to 15 pounds while females max out at a more modest 8 lbs. Their body weight varies by the individual duck. They are a cleaner duck than other domesticated ducks as they don’t have the extreme “water-lust” that other duck breeds have. This keeps them from muddying up your yard during heavy rainfalls or digging up the areas around any water sources you my have. They are also a much quieter duck than the mallard-derived breeds of duck. They do not quack like other ducks, so they are a great choice if you live close to your neighbors or just don’t want to be bothered with the noise of other ducks.
The main reason why people raise these ducks; however, is for their ample and succulent breast meat. Many people that have tasted Muscovy meat, liken it to filet mignon. The meat is very lean by Pekin duck standards, so it is a healthier option for those looking to cut down on fat in their diet. A Muscovy drake can reach 15 lbs in 16 weeks and will dress out to about a 7 lb carcass, most of the meat being breast meat. Males grow faster and larger than the females so males are the preferred sex when raising these birds solely for meat production. Female Muscovies do have their place in the backyard homestead. Even though they aren’t as optimal for meat production as the males, they are excellent mothers and will go broody and raise ducklings with little assistance from you. This makes Muscovies an excellent breed for those who are trying to become truly self-sufficient because they are an amazing self-propagating source of meat.
When it comes to husbandry, Muscovy ducks don’t have any special requirements. They require the same food as other duck breeds and a clean source of water on a daily basis. It should be noted that, unlike other domesticated duck breeds, Muscovy ducks are able to fly and they are also able to perch on fences or up in trees. So precautions must sometimes be taken in order to contain your Muscovies, like keeping them in an enclosed run or clipping their flight feathers.
As I’ve already mentioned, these ducks are a great alternative the Pekin Ducks that we’ve all become accustomed to. The meat if flavorful and plentiful and Muscovies are easy to care for. So get a few hatchlings from your local hatchery this spring and see if Muscovies are the right choose for you. Or if you’d like to try before you buy, many online retailers offer Muscovy Duck breast meat, so try some out.