Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Love My Ducks

 We raise Muscovy ducks.  I had never planned to raise ducks.  I was OK with chickens being the only poultry on the farm. 

About a year after we started this whole crazy homesteading thing, a lady offered me a some free Muscovy ducks.  No catch, they are just prolific breeders and she was overrun with them. 

So I talked it over with my husband, and shockingly he said yes.

When I went to pick them up, we were suppose to be getting three.  Two females and male (drake).  We ended up with four total, two females and two males. 

The only thing I really knew about ducks was that they like water.  So I had to start researching.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that this was no hardship for me.  I love to research almost anything.  It's the geek in me.

I found out that that Muscovy ducks are native to Central and South America.  That rather surprised me because they are also very cold hardy animals.

If you cross a Muscovy with any other duck, the offspring will be sterile.  These cross bred ducks are called mule ducks.  It's rather like crossing a donkey with a horse.  The really cool thing, is that the sterile females will still lay eggs, but they won't have a yolk.  How many people on a diet would like an egg that was all white?
They also like to roost high off the ground at night.  It's not unusual to find them sleeping on any gate they kind find, the tops of rabbit hutches, or even roofs (including the house!). 

In the winter, they also like to hide under the porch it get out of the wind and snow.  Of course the fact that this is where we put their food in the winter only serves to encourage this behavior.

They are actually pretty wild in behavior, but they will allow us to get fairly close if they think there is something in it for them, such as food or fresh water in their "pond".  Otherwise they prefer we keep a safe distance.  Especially if there is a mother with babies.

Speaking of babies (stop reading if you don't want to hear about how we raise our own food), we raise these ducks for meat.  I really wasn't in a hurry to eat them at first because I had duck in a restaurant once and really did not like it. 

After being assured that Muscovy meat tastes nothing like any other duck, and that it is very much like beef, I decided to try it.  WOW!  I'm so glad I did. 

Since these ducks forage for themselves well in the spring, summer and fall months, they don't cost much to raise to butchering size.  The meat is amazing and yes, it really does taste very much like beef.  It's very red and high in iron. 

The other great bonus with these ducks, is that when they are allowed to free range they are very lean.  There is some fat, but much less than beef.  And even less than turkey.  What fat is there, has an amazing flavor. 

Overall, I'm very glad we decided to give raising these ducks a try.  They are quiet (they don't quack!), the meat is great, and they eat bugs like crazy.  I would have kept them for bug control alone. 

1 comment:

  1. Maybe if Andy agrees I can buy some babies from you this year to raise for food..