Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spring duck hatches

We've raised various duck breeds on our farm in the past 13 years. One of my favorite is the Muscovy. We don't lose them to predators as often as the other breeds. They are worth their weight in gold, because of the numbers of insects they eat, especially flies and mosquitoes. I like them better than geese, because they don't tear up my gardens, they aren't aggressive, plus they're quiet. We've had around 30 Muscovy ducklings hatch so far.
We don't have an incubator,
so we let the ducks do the hatching.
Every year, we lose most of them to predators. Everyone loves to eat ducklings, blue herons, turtles, hawks, opossums, weasels, raccoons, fox. There's already a few missing this year. I decided that I'd capture a few myself to raise. We really enjoy eating duck. I'd take a rare grilled duck breast over a steak any day. The Muscovy is much leaner than the other domestic ducks, with a richer flavor, almost like beef.Having a creek running through our property makes it easy to raise ducks. We feed them a little corn, but generally, they are on their own for food. I don't like to overwinter more than 10-12.

Above, is Elton, one of our drakes.

This is Elvis, our other drake. You can't see it in the photo, but he has a black crest. When he raises it, he really does look like Elvis!

We have just one Cayuga duck left, and 2 Pekings (one duck, one drake). I love the coloring of the Cayugas. They don't interact with the Muscovy, which I thought was surprising. I read that they can breed, and the resulting duck is a mule duck, which is sterile. Our Cayuga girl showed up with 10 ducklings this morning. They will be Cayuga/Peking crosses.

We had crested ducks at one time. They were a bunch of clowns. Unfortunately, the coyotes found them quite tasty!

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