The South American Incas, so it’s said, domesticated these quackless red-carnucled ducks centuries ago. Introduced to other parts of the world by European explorers in their travels, grain-fed Muscovy duck has been widely renowned for its distinctive flavour, firm flesh, and high yield after cooking – Muscovies have more breast meat, smaller bones, and less fat than other ducks. The drakes are about twice as large as the females, so the grower has the right-sized bird to suit almost everyone.
To enhance the natural advantages of the Muscovy, there has been a lot of genetic research and selection done in France. As a result, strides have been made in increasing feed efficiency and improving growth rates. The new hybrid Muscovy ducklings look like the original Muscovy, but they eat somewhat more per bird per day, and grow more rapidly. For the traditional roasting duck with that fine “ducky” flavour, you need to raise them at least 14 weeks. The feed efficiency will drop as the birds get older and heavier, but the improved meat quality and better dressing percentage will make it worthwhile.
Young Muscovy ducklings are sometimes cannibalistic when they are getting their feathers, particularly when the quills are poking through the wings and tail.
In Canada, Muscovies have earned a reputation in an area entirely unrelated to their food production value – as economical, environmentally friendly additions to fly control regimes in other livestock productions. For more information, you may contact the Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1.