It's been rough, with so many losses. I had hopes that possibly the ducks that we lost may not have been lost, and were in fact forming a rag-tag duck colony in the woods, where they free range and bolster their numbers. I was hoping that because we lost all our Runners (my favorites) and our two White Cresteds. They were all the prettiest ducks we had. Unfortunately, I know this is not the case, and the ducks have become a meal for whatever it was, leaving us with the motley crew of "homebrews", all the ducks our ducks made, a mish-mash of genetics and colors.
What I have discovered, however, is that free-ranging the ducks is far less destructive than free-ranging the chickens. They don't eat my flowers. They don't eat the vegetables. They don't scratch. They're actually pretty well behaved for ducks who run around willy-nilly all day. So it caused me to re-think ducks in general. As a rule, I kept ducks for my daughter, who loves them. I don't find them to be of much use, other than egg laying. I find them dumb, and flighty. But with all the losses, and the discovery that the ducks remaining are actually not all that bad, I felt like I should bolster the numbers a little bit.
So I did. But as domestic ducks are still dumb and flighty to me, I went in a different direction, and chose the Muscovy.
If you don't know much about Muscovies, here are some facts:
- They are often called the "quackless" duck, because they are very quiet
- They can fly, and like to perch
- They have claws and can climb over obstacles
- The males can get to be 15 pounds, the females 7 or so
- Muscovy ducks can lay up to 195 eggs a year over a 40-week season. They'll nest three or four times during the season, hatching up to 20 ducklings a time.
- The meat has a fine texture and is lean, like veal
- Although the Muscovy Duck is a tropical bird, it adapts to icy and snowy conditions down to –12°C (10°F) and below without ill effects
- They don't like to swim as much as other breeds because their oil glands are not as active. When they do wash they are incredibly thorough and most of the water is dispersed over a wide area ie, they like to splash and play
- When a Muscovy is crossed with other breeds, it produces a sterile off spring called 'mules' which are good meat ducks
- They are foragers and eat insects, small vermin like mice and rats and (unfortunately) frogs
There are only 6, and they are all different colors. And can I just say, I already like them. They're nosy as all get-out. They wouldn't remain in their box and instead jumped out/climbed out all over the car on the way home. They are curious and talkative and much more precocious than a domestic duck. I like sparky animals. These guys seem sparky to me.
So we'll see how this goes. I am hoping that these guys will become another tool in the arsenal here and will provide a real benefit to us with their foraging habits and easy care. I'm also hoping that they'll be a nice animal to have around and won't get eaten like their domesticated cousins. No matter what, it'll be an adventure. Stay tuned to see how this all turns out!