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Our Introduction to Muscovy Ducks

Originally Published November 23, 2017. Updated 7/25/18.

Title Page Intro to Ducks.png
Introduction to Muscovy Ducks. 3 of the Muscovy Drakes of Functional Rustic.

These past few months raising Muscovy Ducks has been quite an experience. We moved out to Dryden, MI to start the next chapter in our life and our new home came with a great barn. I knew I wanted to start some sort of business with the barn and began researching all the livestock options I could think of. The more I researched the animal options the more I realized that big barn animals have big needs.

Ducks in a row
6 of the 7 Muscovy Ducks of Functional Rustic. They’re about 6 months old and do not seem to mind that it is below freezing.

Around this time my sister mentioned that Tractor Supply was selling chickens and ducks in batches of 10. I knew I wanted to get the ducks but 10 was way too many. With very little convincing my mom agreed to take 4 and my sister would take 2. Four ducklings for us! Well — we went to town the next weekend and the chicks and ducklings were no longer available. At this point I was determined to raise ducks and felt obligated to provide my family with the ducks I promised.

The next morning I went on craigslist and found an add for ducklings – $7 each. I immediately called them up and we were at the house within an hour. Steve was great — knows a lot about Muscovy ducks. We knew nothing. I didn’t even know what a Muscovy was until we arrived at his house. (I do not recommend this approach to inviting any living creature into your home. Research your animal before you commit to raising it.)

We decided to get five ducklings for us and five ducklings for my mom. The ducklings were only a few weeks old so we had no idea what sex they were. We wanted them for eggs but were so eager to get ducks that day that we chose to risk them being male.

Ducklings in a box
Transporting Muscovy Ducklings home in a box.

We delivered ducklings to mom and then welcomed our feather babies to their new barn. We used a box to transport the ducklings and they were fine. They did poop a lot though so the car smelled pretty bad by the time we got home.

We chose to keep them in the horse stall with the rubber mat flooring and added our own straw. The stall is 10 ft x 10 ft  with floor to ceiling doors that open to the outside. The perfect space to set up a pool, food and heat light for the ducklings.

Ducklings in red pool
I used plastic shelves as ramps in and out of the pool for the Muscovy ducklings.
Val in duck stall
Valencia Merble the Dog napping in the Muscovy duckling stall.

Every morning I would wake up early and open up the door so they could get fresh air. We set up a board so they couldn’t leave the stall but they still got all the sunlight.

My life soon revolved around the ducks — and I loved it! I gave them fresh water in their pool in the morning and spent hours coaxing them in and out of the water. I was quite proud of the ramp set up I came up with  spare plastic shelving.

In time we moved the ducklings to the stall next door. The new stall was centrally located so it was safer from large predators. Also, the floor was already covered in wood shavings so we didn’t need to provide straw.

duckling pile
Muscovy Ducklings under one month old.
val in the duck stall
Valencia Merble the Dog hanging out by the duck pool.

In just a few short weeks the ducklings grew fast. They learned to swim right away and picked up hunting as soon as they were big enough to fit the bug in their mouth. I was so proud the first time I saw one eat a spider.

According to the Muscovy Duck guides I read online — Muscovy ducks are avid hunters and when full grown they can eat prey as large as a mouse or small fish. I know for a fact they eat small frogs! They also did an amazing job removing the spiders and mosquitos from the barn.

Within a week of having the ducklings I was getting up with sun and heading out to the barn to tend to the ducks. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I adapted to the new early morning schedule I established for the ducks. No alarm needed – I just pop out of bed excited to see my feather babies!

Muscovy ducks need water to swallow their food. It is vital that if you decide to raise Muscovy ducks you always have a source of water available near their food. The ducks put the dry food in their mouth, take a sip of water and then swallow. This approach of course causes half the food to fall out into the pool – but it just gives them something to dive for later! Ha.

When it came to change the pool water I dumped the water in an area the ducks spend time so they can play in the puddle and eat the food that was spilled. Also, when the ground gets soaked by the pool water grubs and bugs come out of the ground and provide food for the ducks.

As they got bigger I was able to move the pool to a fenced area just off the back of the barn. The new fenced in area allowed the ducks more room to explore but still kept them protected near the barn. Hawks circle the property and I was terrified our little birds would get attacked.

While most ducks are known for their quacking — Muscovy ducks do not quack at all. Instead, the Muscovy ducks communicate mostly with body language and heavy breathing noises. I just can’t get enough of watching their butts wiggle and listening to them huff and puff.

One morning the dog and I head to the barn to start the day — same as we had every day before. I slide open the door to the stall and my heart sank. I actually screamed and even the dog looked shocked.

The ducks were dead. Slaughtered. Not eaten — just killed.

In tears I ran to the house to wake my husband and tell him what happened. We were devastated. It was our job to keep them safe. We thought the stall was the best duck house ever. We were in complete shock.

After hours of research online we determined it was a weasel that got them. Vicious creatures. Apparently they can fit into any space a mouse can fit. I even found the tiny hole in the floor that the weasel entered through. I had no idea that I needed to protect against weasels.

We held a memorial service for the ducklings and buried them in the yard. We were heartbroken. Devastated. Still are. Even writing about this is stirring up feelings I would rather not remember. Those little ducks were only with us for a month but will remain in our hearts forever.

Although their death was traumatizing — I was determined not to let it deter me from continuing to have Muscovy Ducks in my life. I had fallen in love.

The next day we called up Steve and got 6 more ducklings  — the Muscovy Ducks of Functional Rustic! (Our bronze turkey came shortly after that.)

Muscovy Ducks and Bronze Turkey of Functional Rustic

Stay tuned to Functional Rustic for the latest on the Muscovy Ducks and Bronze Turkey of Functional Rustic.

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

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10 thoughts on “Our Introduction to Muscovy Ducks

  1. I so love 🦆🦆🦆🦆ducks!! When we move 🏠 my husband has promised I too can have some 🦆🦆🦆🦆. Yours were precious !! It was like I was there with you.
    So when you lost them I was shocked and heartbroken. I was hoping they just got out and you found them.
    In the end, all you can do is use what you learned to better life for more ducks. You’ll do well!!
    Thank You for sharing—made me so happy.😉

  2. Thank you for expressing appreciation for the story of my first feather babies! My new batch of six is up to over 15 now. There are ducklings of all sizes and colors now! Ducks, especially Muscovy, are such a treat to interact with and watch. Do you have a breed in mind or just ducks in general?

  3. I don’t know — your piece made me really process to another level.
    I followed you so I can learn more.
    So excited!!!!

    Also between you and me I accidentally commented on my sad BLOG. My happy blog is

  4. Yay!! It is a pleasure to meet a fellow duck enthusiast. I look forward to sharing lots of pictures, videos and stories of the ducks (and turkey). Hopefully you and your husband are moving soon so you can share your stories too!!

  5. 🦆 Quack, Quack, Quack 🦆
    I’ll have to live vicariously through you for at least a year as we get out boy through high school. It would not be fair to move and pull him away from his buddies, soccer and golf. So, I’m in preparation mode!!!

    So good to meet you!!

  6. The feather babies and I are happy to oblige. I’ve read a few of your posts already, Love it! For what it’s worth, before Functional Rustic I was a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. 🙂

  7. WOW—the people you Quack into.
    So do you know what is different between Dialectical versus Cognitive? I’ve only recently learned of Dialectical but I’m learning a lot with a therapist that is helping me be able to better communicate with my girl. If my girl in fact goes to Menninger’s for their 6-8 week residential treatment program I need to be able to communicate with her without constantly sending her into a emotional state. Right now she is often mad at me and I don’t know why 🙁☹️😕😞😳. Probably would be easier if I said as little as possible right now 🤭!!!My therapist said VALIDATE-VALIDATE-VALIDATE!!!! (I need to research that more because I don’t know how to do that if she’s NOT raging)

    I’m blubbering.
    I feel like a LUCKY 🍀 🦆 DUCK to have met you today. (😀) (😔)

  8. I am not familiar with the ins and outs of DBT beyond knowing that it was specially designed to help those with Borderline Personality Disorder. I found an amazing article that describes the process perfectly and helps clarify what a person with BPD is experiencing.

    Validation is huge but can be difficult to provide. You have a wide range of emotions regarding her actions and setting them aside in the moment to offer support can be exhausting. As much as you can rationally comprehend that she is just trying to express her needs, words hurt and words intended to cause harm hurt more. (I’m making sweeping generalizations here based on my experience working with people that live with BPD.)

    Understanding the concept of the Strengths Perspective helps. Basically, it entails viewing a situation in the most positive light possible. Rephrase otherwise negative behaviors in a positive light. For example, in response to cutting oneself (intentionally cutting one’s arm/leg/body without the intention of death – not a suicide attempt) it can be easy to say, “she just wants attention”. It is the use of the word “just” that is the problem. “It is ‘just’ a scratch. It is ‘just’ one person’s opinion.” “Just” tells the other person that any feelings beyond mild irritation about the situation are overblown. That simple word completely invalidates her thoughts and intentions.

    Strengths perspective would describe the self harm behavior as “she demonstrates a strong desire to express what she is feeling and is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish her goal.” There is no judgement. It validates her intentions without placing a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ label on it. Also, if the situation is viewed as her attempting to express herself, it becomes easier to teach more effective ways to express herself. Approaching self harm as ‘just’ seeking attention does not provide any avenue for learning effective communications strategies. After all, the intention is not to teach her that expressing herself is wrong, but rather that there are more effective ways to do so.

    I highly recommend reading the article. I know I learned a lot!

  9. Thank You!!! I have read and re-read your comments. And will do so again and again. I will absolutely read the article. Your words are insightful and helpful. I appreciate you taking the time to process my question and station in life.

    This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. And it breaks my heart to see my beautiful girl so miserable. I am still hopeful that Menninger’s can help her begin to turn herself around.

    Thank You for your kindnesses!!
    It is very appreciated.💐

  10. […] the barn. I used to keep my ducklings running free in a horse stall in the barn but, I learned that small animals can still harm my feather babies in the stall and I needed added protection for small predators. Because my duck house was indoors […]

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