At Paradise Meadows, home of Hawaii’s Local Buzz, we have 28 free-range Muscovy ducks. They are (or can be) great farm animals, eating all sorts of bugs, slugs, snails, and even invasive Coqui frogs when they can find them. However, there can easily be too much of a good thing.
One thing you learn relatively quickly when you welcome these ducks to your farm is that Muscovy ducks make more Muscovy ducks, and they do it prolifically. Each adult female in a tropical climate like Hawaii can lay a “clutch” (that is, a collection) of eggs up to three times per year.
Each clutch will contain anywhere from a low of 10 or 12 eggs to a high of over 20, and they are very successful (with the right diet) at hatching out 90%+ of those eggs after 35 days of sitting on them. If you do the math on those numbers, you can see that 20 or 25 adult ducks can turn into hundreds of ducks in less than a year if they are allowed to reproduce unchecked. And the math gets even uglier when you realize that, at 4 months old, young females are able to lay their own clutches. Without some form of population control, we would be buried in ducks… and duck poop.,. in no time.
We don’t raise Muscovy ducks as food. Our ducks are somewhere between pets and farm workers. Most have names, and we generally don’t eat beings that have names. Those who raise them as a food crop don’t have a population control problem. Folks like us, though, need to figure out a way to keep the population down before it gets to be a problem. For that reason, each morning you’ll see at least one of us scouring the areas where our ducks like to lay for eggs we can harvest.
Until a duck sits on the eggs they don’t begin to gestate and can be used the way you’d use any egg. Muscovy eggs have very large yolks, very little white, and are phenomenal for baking cakes or bread. We sell the ones we don’t use ourselves, and have a few customers who are total duck egg fanatics. We’ll use them at home, but never in our Hawaii’s Local Buzz products which are 100% egg-free, so those duck eggs never see the inside of our production facility.
We do love having baby ducks around, and visitors to Paradise Meadows enjoy them as well, so we periodically allow one of our females to sit on a tiny clutch of 2 – 4 eggs until they hatch. If the mother duck is very attentive and protective of the babies, we’ll let her try to raise them herself, but most of the time we need to collect them and put them into a “protective custody” cage. We have mongoose in Hawaii, and since we don’t have snakes (their preferred food), our baby ducks look like lunch to a mongoose. Once they can fly (at about 3 months of age) they are safe from predators, but until then we make sure they’re behind bars when we can’t watch over them ourselves. More about that in a future blog post.
Meanwhile, if you enjoyed that video, please watch it on YouTube where you can “like” it and subscribe to future video posts. And while you’re here on our website, be sure to take a look at some of our yummy treats.