Raising Muscovy Ducklings

Please be advised that federal regulations prohibit the release of domestic waterfowl. If you are raising muscovies, ensure that you are able to keep them or that you can secure permanent homes for them

Housing:

under 3 weeks old

(under 6 inches in length): In a small indoor cage with access to a heating pad or other form of heat (they are unable to generate their own body heat). Should not have access to water other than very shallow dish for drinking. A chick waterer is preferable because it prevents the ducklings from getting wet; otherwise you may lose your ducklings to hypothermia or drowning. They are not water-proofed without their mother.

3-6 weeks old

(between 6-9 inches in length): should be regulating their own body temperature; larger indoor or well protected outdoor cage. Introduce wading/baby pool once underbelly is fully-lined with feathers.

6-12 weeks old

house outdoors, safe, locked caging from predators (dogs, raccoons, etc). Use small gauge wire to wrap enclosure but never use chicken wire. Unlimited access to wading/baby pool to encourage "waterproofing"

12+ weeks

Can fly and safely lift off water to escape snapping turtles in pond. Should be fearful of pets. Has learned to seek out natural diet from soil.

Feeding

under 3 weeks old:

primary diet should soley consist of Egg Maker Crumbles mixed 1:1 with water (unmedicated) available from the local Feed and Seed. Constant access to clean drinking water; "Chick Waterers" are ideal for this and cost $1-$3 at your local feed and seed. Can offer 10% dark greens and small insects. Anything else can lead to hypoglycemia (seizures from low blood sugar) or metabolic bone disease (not enough calcium, phosphorus, D3).

3-12 weeks old

In addition to earlier diet, allow "rooting" in yard and can also add Multigrain Scratch Grains to diet (available from Feed and Seed, some grocery stores, or online).

Cleaning

The primary complaint in raising ducklings is mess and odor. The most efficient way to house ducklings indoors is in wire bottom cages so that spillage and droppings fall through to the newspapered tray below. Wrap a sheet or towel to cover all sides of the cage except the very front. This will prevent food from being flung everywhere while they "dabble'. Offer a toweled area in the cage where they can rest as a group and stay warm, but replace the towel frequently. Avoid using hay or straw for substrate; it encourages bacterial growth and heavy odors. Use diluted bleach to clean caging; primarily to neutralize odors.

Socializing

Never raise a single duckling alone. Muscovies are domestic ducks and will imprint on humans, this includes sexual imprinting. Once mature, they will attempt to mate with humans (because they have been imprinted) following release. These ducks are large bodied birds and will become a nuisance during breeding season.  If they escape, the will be destroyed by Animal Control if complaints arise. Avoid this problem by raising at least two ducklings and allowing them to bond with one another instead of you (no matter how much they "peep" for attention).  Don't let them interact with your pets (otherwise they will think that all dogs and cats are friendly!). 

Humane Domestic Duck Management

The goal is to humanely keep populations in check so that acts of cruelty against domestic ducks are reduced. Many people don't like Muscovy ducks and feel they have a negative impact on wild duck populations. When they outnumber wild populations, incidents of cruelty increase.

During the laying period (before incubation), the eggs are still dormat and should be vigorously shaken to cause the internal structure to change. Each shaken egg should be dated with a crayon the day it is shaken and returned to the nest. It can also be coated with vegetable oil. If the eggs are not returned to the nest, the female will mate again and start a new one. Do not shake two of the eggs so that the female will have young to care for, instead of starting another nest once she realizes that the eggs won't hatch. Keep the unshaken eggs on top of or away from any oiled eggs. The shaken eggs can be safely discarded one week after the female leaves the nest with her new ducklings; or 45 days after incubation began. NEVER shake an incubated egg; it has begun development and rather than rendering the egg infertile it will result in a deformed duckling.

Note: This information refers to domestic ducks only! It is a violation of federal law to disturb the eggs, nests, or raise ducklings of all wild ducks without first obtaining the necessary permits.

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