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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

4 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. 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

  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. 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?

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