Muscovy eggs are milky coffee white and larger in circumference rather than length than normal duck eggs (Indian Runner/ Khaki Campbell) which are themselves larger than chicken eggs. If you compare a normal “supermarket free range” chicken egg colour, the Muscovy egg will normally be more rotund and lighter colour, definitely heavier!
Excellent for baking. Muscovy will normally start laying from 8 – 10 months old – weather permitting. However, a duckling reaching 8 months say in October is obviously going to wait until the New Year to start laying.
A duckling born in say September of one year is called a late hatch, they too will start laying from 8 months but quicker usually as they will “come into lay” in the warmer months. E.g. Born September, Lay May onwards. There are no hard and fast rules with Muscovy unlike other birds. They will sometimes take a break from laying in the hottest month, say August but will most often come back into lay. Few Muscovy will lay all year round but it all depends how you treat them. Most will stop around October and restart from January onwards depending on their ages. A mature Muscovy who has had a clutch or two will usually be the first to start laying in the New Year – but not always!! Making a nest is usually a sign that the duck who made it will soon come into lay. In a group of Muscovy ducks, the oldest will usually start making nests first but again no hard and fast rules. If you are keeping the eggs for eating and/or selling for eating then there is no need for a drake to be present. If a Drake is present then fertilized eggs left in warm conditions may well “go off” quicker so best keep the Drake separate and mate only the girls you think/hope/feel are broody and will sit to incubate the eggs.
Muscovy vary with how many eggs they seem to feel “enough” before they will sit. Do not disturb the nest or the duck will abandon the nest. However, common sense prevails and it needs to be safe! Some mature ducks will wait to have as many as 18 eggs before sitting, others much less. If you pop a few “other breeds eggs” into her nest, the Muscovy duck doesn’t seem to mind or worry if her offspring don’t look at all like her!
Do remember that, like first time “mums” the first egg is always the most difficult, often misshapen and sometimes a little bloodied. This is perfectly normal and thereafter like shelling peas! Please do remember that duck eggs are more porous than chicken eggs and should not be washed. If a duck lays in water, or outside and it gets muddy or rained on - best destroy that egg straight away. Duck eggs should be refrigerated (unless incubating of course) and brought out from the fridge some 30 minutes before use. Refrigerated eggs will not hatch.
dark patches on the outside of an egg are not usually a good sign, one bad egg can ruin the others for hatching
We do not have chickens but Chickens apparently take around 25 days to incubate and most ducks apparently 28 but a Muscovy can take from 33 – 37 days, normally 35.
please note that the day the duck sits properly ie not getting on or off intermittently is the first day of sitting AND after 35 days of this the ducklings will start to hatch BUT can take up to 5 days to get out if some are late starters. This is not for the impatient!
To put Muscovy duck eggs under a chicken therefore is something that would require diligence in feeding the chicken or it will literally starve. Muscovy are exceptionally biddable and broody mums so much better to hatch other ducks under them or even a goose!
Please do not forget to remove the pond if putting chickens under a duck - chickens do not swim! Do make sure the Mother Duck can access rewaterproofing and cleaning (ie pond/bath/bucket) in the meantime!
It has to be said that there are some issues with “language”. I personally know someone who found that when putting a goose egg under a Muscovy, for example, as the Muscovy does not make a noise, the hatched Goslings took a while to “find their voices”. Each to their own.
Make sure your Muscovy duck has access to “weatherproofing facilities”, feed and clean water whilst sitting – she will only leave the nest for a very short period in order to see to her own daily needs. Ducklings must be protected immediately upon hatching and for the entire clutch to be hatched can take up to 48 hours.
Muscovy DO require ponds or containers/baths into which they may safely get in and out in order to douse themselves thoroughly. The Muscovy needs to refresh, cleanse and weatherproof on a daily basis. This can be a messy business and a bath on concrete with bricks/ramps to get in and out is ideal. A kiddie’s sandpit full of water, hard plastic not something claws can rip or washing up bowls if large enough are ideal. The bird must be able to get safely in and out. Ponds can be built without too much difficulty or expense but must be emptied as stagnant water over a long period of time can hold stagnant “nasties” as can streams that dry out in summer. Fresh drinking water is essential and if you have numbers of birds must be regularly emptied and refilled during the day’ if the drinking water bowl is large enough one of them is bound to bath in it!!
All birds should be helped, in our opinion, through the winter months. The regime must be one adhered to. Feeding am before let out if penned and to come into at night to encourage them to come in is a good idea but it must work for both you and the birds! It is a good idea to keep your birds “in” until it is absolutely crystal clear light – two reasons, firstly Mr Fox can be avoided and secondly they are more likely to lay first thing and get used to the regime. What you feed can be dependent on what the bird was previously fed – in which case ask for an amount to take with you when you purchase so that the change over to a new feed/bag can be gradual – or what you believe. Ducks can happily survive on smallholder mixed corn with oyster shell and need nothing else. Others feed “layers pellets” normally used for poultry of which there are many manufacturers. Others feed specialized Duck and Goose feeds. Google is a great search engine! Better feed little and often rather than leave feed out to get eaten by wild birds or rats.
Housing should be off ground to prevent rats setting underneath and water rotting the house material; it should be secure from foxes and other wildlife on the hunt for a meal. Size depends on amount of birds and if you expect the birds to “sit” in this house or not. Few Muscovy ducks will nest and sit in the same house as other ducks are brought into at night, so adequate provision should be made. Not all ducks will lay or sit at the same time!
Muscovy interact once used to, family pets. Dogs do not frighten them and can happily play amongst the ducks provided the dog is of equably gentile nature. If mixing new Muscovy with an existing cat or dog, make sure you stay in the vicinity each time until both are equably happy. Will a dog take a Muscovy? Not unless that dog is of that disposition. Will a cat kill a Muscovy, not unless an unprotected tiny duckling. Muscovy may be silent warriors but when flapping wings and in groups are extremely protective, especially of their young. Drakes rarely attack ducklings or eggs but some might. When the ducklings are born, keep the Drake separate if you are in any doubt whatsoever.
Does size matter? Ducks vary tremendously and if you can see the parents, usually end up that size. Some Domestic ducks stay around the 5-7llb mark but many can go to 10llb. Drakes usually come in around 9 – 13llb but many go to 16llb, again parents can influence. Some people breed for smaller and others for larger.
If you like the Muscovy, you will enjoy the greetings when you visit them or they are first let out of their hutches in the morning. They will wag their tails and coo to you and then do a wonderful “rap” like dance with heads bobbing up and down to you and to each other, it is both unique to the Muscovy and amazing to see.
It is not good policy to keep too many drakes unless selling as pairs or running them on to Show the next year.
We keep our drakes separately from the ducks and they live happily growing to maturity before their future is decided. However, we are fortunate enough to have land in front of our house in order to be able to do this and no birds are anywhere near the Alpaca!
We usually have young ducks, drakes in most colours and breeding pairs for sale.
Quiet, gentle birds, easily fed and great bug eaters
Need minimal but essential water facilities for weatherproofing
Excellent Mothers, raising large clutches including other breeds happily
Intelligent, responsive, friendly greetings from a Muscovy
Can fly if Fox comes
Sociable with other domestic pets
Unique “rap” greeting to each other
Drakes can live happily as a social group
Can be driven when needing to move
Can come to call if named
Can be trained to “sit” in certain areas
Beautiful to all who take the time to get to know them
Large excellent eggs
Slow moving so can catch!
This Muscovy site is based entirely upon our own experience and that of other Muscovy Duck Breeders who have contributed to its content. The content is therefore the opinion of the writer only. Refs used only to historical facts – Google, Wildfowl Club and Cotswold Poultry club.
Photographs – please note that all photographs on this site are taken by ourselves, copyrighted to Kensmyth Stud and are of just a few of our own birds.