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How to properly care for baby Muscovy ducklings

Muscovy ducklings

Muscovy ducklings are great fun to raise and invaluable around the barnyard. They eat a massive number of mosquitoes and flies and are one of the most beneficial breeds of ducks you can own. Make sure your baby Muscovies grow up right by following a few simple tips.

Fortunately, Muscovy ducklings are easy to raise, as long as you know what you’re doing! They are generally hardy and lively right from the start, but raising them can present a few specific challenges to watch out for.

Muscovies are a perching duck

This means even newborn babies come equipped with tiny, needle-sharp claws. You should be aware of these when handling the babies for safety’s sake, but also be aware they can climb shockingly well if highly motivated! For this reason it’s best not to keep them in a brooder that is too shallow.

They have hunting instincts and will hunt bugs right from the start

If you brood them outdoors, this is great since they will start eating flies and mosquitoes and supplement their feed naturally. If they’re indoors, you don’t need to worry about them losing their interest in hunting. It is innate and they’ll start chasing bugs as soon as they’re outdoors.

However, it is fun to roll tiny treats such as peas or even bits of chick starter across the ground and watch them give chase!

Muscovy ducklings

Baby Muscovies are not water repellent and at high risk for drowning

All baby ducklings are vulnerable without the oils a mother duck secretes from her feathers, but since Muscovies are not very water repellent even as adults, their babies are exceptionally vulnerable. I nearly lost a Muscovy duckling because it got in a shallow water tub for a while and couldn’t get out. It was soaked to the bone and in a state of shock, but fortunately recovered. Make sure any water pans are extremely shallow until your ducks start feathering out.

As a general rule, once your ducklings have feathers on their bellies, they are ready to start swimming–just make sure they can easily get out of the tub.

Muscovies thrive on greens

While chick starter should be available at all times, I also offer them peas, finely chopped greens such as lettuce or spinach, and grass clumps to climb on. It’s easy to use a garden tool to hack out a small section of sod with the grass still attached–the baby Muscovies go wild for it, nibbling on the grass and eating tiny bugs in the soil. And, peas are important for ducklings to eat since they are a natural source of niacin, which all ducks need to grow strong legs.

Muscovy ducklings

Muscovies need to be raised with their own kind

While it’s possible to raise Muscovy ducklings with Mallard-derived ducklings, there’s no question that they prefer to be with their own breed. The reason for this is their behavior and vocalizations are incredibly different from “normal” ducks. My adult Muscovies live with and tolerate the other breeds of ducks, but they would rather roost together and chatter to each other than socialize with the other breeds.

For your baby Muscovies’ own healthy development, it is strongly recommended to never raise a lone Muscovy. Having at least two is important, but a group is even better! (Ducks feel more secure in greater numbers.)

As cute as they are, it’s best to avoid over-handling

Muscovies are a very calm breed and often wind up quite literally underfoot, staring up at you in the hopes of getting a treat. This is a very cute and endearing quality, but there needs to be a clear line between humans and ducks. If the ducklings bond too closely to you, or imprint on you, they will think you’re a duck–which means they may become very aggressive as adults. This is especially true for males, and you definitely don’t want a huge male Muscovy with his powerful wings and hooked claws thinking he can attack you!

I talk to my Muscovy ducklings and give them treats to teach them my presence is a good thing, but I make it a point to mostly leave them alone. They will be friendly enough when grown without risking making them aggressive towards humans.

Enjoy your baby Muscovies!

Baby Muscovies

22 thoughts on “How to properly care for baby Muscovy ducklings”

  1. Love the post. I inherited 10 baby muscovies when their mother was killed the night before they hatched. I couldn’t leave the eggs outside to just cool down and die. I brought them in, surrounded them with regular lamps, then bought a heat lamp. I was so worried that without an incubator they would not hatch correctly or hatch at all. I was amazed at how cleanly all but one hatched. I candled the last egg and it was not viable to begin with. They are now 3 days old and I have them on chicken starter feed which I used to feed to my other ducklings years ago. I want to introduce the peas but I had a duckling choke and die on one years ago. Should I just keep them on the started feed for a solid week and then try the peas, spinach, lettuce, etc. I really appreciate the information in your post. I’ll be bringing them outside in a cage for a few hours in the mornings starting tomorrow. I’ll make sure part of the cage is covered from the sun – I live in Florida and it is June so it gets hot. Any advice on when to start introducing the veggies would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Peggy Moree

      When the Muscovy ducks hatch in an incubator what temp do I need to keep them at When I take them out and for how long? They are hatching now..

      1. Baby ducks do best in 90 degrees when they’re first hatched, though you can go down to 80-85 by the time they’re a week old. I hope it was a good hatch!

    2. If you’re concerned about them choking on peas, you can mash them first. But if you cook the peas ahead of time, they should be soft enough that they present a minimum choking hazard so long as the ducks have access to water. Congrats on the hatch with a heat lamp!

      I start giving mine peas within the first week–just a few at a time. They aren’t very interested at first, but then they learn what they are and go wild. I do offer them scrambled egg from day 1, though.

  2. Angela

    There’s a duck nesting close to my apartment. Currently there is one baby duck and about 4 eggs in the nest ( there used to be 12:( ). My question is regarding the baby duck, it seems to have trouble walking today, yesterday it was walking just fine. Is it normal for them to seem wobbly and have to sit after walking very short distance? The little duck got bigger overnight. My husband says its probably just getting used to it size. what are your thoughts?? I gave it some peas since on your post you stated that it needs it for stronger legs.

  3. Paul

    Oops my Muscovy only hatched one duckling
    Does the duckling need to be separated from the other adult Muscovy, one female one male
    Will the male hurt it

    1. It just depends on the male. Some males are very passive and won’t hurt their “family” but others are extremely aggressive. Females can also kill babies. It’s always better to separate a mother with her babies if you want to make absolutely certain they’ll be safe.

  4. April miller

    I have a mom Muscovy and 10 babies up in a pen where they hatched. Do I leave mom with the babies until they are ready to go down to the pond.? Or let mom out and keep the babies penned up until big enough to go to the pond?

  5. Tia

    We had a wild Muscovy nest hatch & mom missed one duckling when she led the others away to the bayou. We’ve looked for a day & can not hear the little chirps nor any sightings, understandably. How do I care for 1 baby Muscovy & hope mom shows up?

    1. It’s unlikely a mother duck will return if it’s abandoned a baby by itself, unfortunately! If you find yourself in this situation, it’s always best to either find a second duck to keep it company, or to find a new home for it where it can be raised with other ducks.

  6. Katie

    Gosh I hope you can help me. I just rescued a baby Muscovy who had been abandoned by his mother. All the other siblings were eaten by the turtles so I couldn’t bear to watch this happen
    I have dug up some worms and will give him/her some peas
    I would guess she is 2-3 weeks old

    1. Worms and peas are great for ducks to eat! But if you’re planning on keeping it, it’s always best to make sure they have 24/7 access to chick starter or grain as they get older. I feed my adult ducks a mix of corn and 12% sweet feed.

  7. Charles Sawyer

    I just found 1 baby macovy duck I’m thinking about keeping it as a pet it’s probley only 2 or 3 weeks old?? Any suggestions how to feed them this young??

    1. It’s best to buy a chick starter for ducks that age–just make sure it isn’t medicated, since the chemicals in medicated chick starter are toxic for ducks. It’s also okay to feed it scrambled eggs, greens, and peas in moderation.

  8. Federica

    Hello! I found a tiny Muscovy duckling right outside our house. We had seen the mom earlier in the day but now she is no where to be found. I’m concerned about how you mentioned they shouldn’t grow up alone. We have raised little lost Muscovy babies before, but there were two last time we found them alone. Now it’s just this lone one. What can happen if they grow up by themselves with only human care?
    Also, if I don’t have chick starter available to me right away, what else can I start feeding him?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. It’s possible for ducks to grow up alone, though it isn’t ideal. As prey animals they are much more nervous when by themselves. I’d suggest finding a companion for it–Craigslist and local Facebook groups can be a good way to do this. As for food, crumbled saltines can work in a pinch til you’re able to buy chick starter, as well as oats, cooked scrambled eggs, and peas.

  9. Aurora

    I need help, I found a Muscovy Duckling in the middle of the road. It was near my house and there are no nest any where near my house. So I took it because I didn’t want it to get hurt or die. What should I do, it’s by its self with some other chicks that just hatched. By the looks of this duckling it’s about 5-6 days old and I don’t know what to do. Please give me some advice.

    1. Hopefully you were able to take care of your duck! Ducks do best with other ducks, so it’s a good idea to find it a friend if you plan to keep it. It would be happiest with another Muscovy, but any type of duck would make a suitable friend.

  10. Linuli

    I have 8 Muscovy ducks but one of the ducks had 6 eggs and the ducks start to drink the eggs is it normal and what do I have to do from stopping them do it

    1. It is normal for baby ducks to nibble on egg shells and drink yolks. If they’re breaking the eggs, they need to be kept away from them until they hatch. Good luck!

  11. stacey holley

    Hi someone dumped 2 beautiful Muscovy’s by my house. I have been watching over them for months now due to mean kids in the neighborhood. They laid eggs and 13 hatched 2 days ago and I moved them and mom to my side yard since I found the boys trying to take the babies. She still has 2 eggs left not hatched. Should I assume they are not going to hatch? I hope I am doing the right thing with them . Daddy is in my front yard and is the sweetest thing ever. Would love advice how to care for them until I find place for them to go.
    Thank you

    1. It’s really nice of you to take care of those poor ducks! Yes, if the mother is off the nest with the babies, it’s safe to assume the eggs won’t hatch. To be sure, you can pick the egg up and check it for any holes from the baby trying to peck its way out, or hold it up to your ear to see if you hear any peeping. It isn’t at all unusual for a few eggs to not be fertile and go unhatched. Also, baby ducks absolutely love peas if you want to give them a fun treat. 🙂

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