Holderread Water Fowl Farm in Oregon started a waterfowl breeding project in 1961. When I heard they were retiring this breed, in 2021, I decided to take on a flock and continue breeding these beautiful birds! I’m glad I did, because as of 1/2022 the Livestock Conservancy lists them as “threatened” which means there are only about 5,000 of them left, globally. I have 7 and growing!
From the Livestock Conservancy:
Albert Franz began developing a new multi-purpose duck in Germany in1930. He used Rouen, German Pekin, and Blue Pomeranian ducks in his breeding program and introduced the ducks at the Saxony Show of 1934. Most Saxony ducks didn’t survive World War II, so Franz renewed his breeding program after the war. In 1957, Germany recognized them as a distinct breed. Saxony ducks made their way to the United States when the Holderread Waterfowl Farm imported them in 1984. They were admitted into the American Poultry Association’s American Standard of Perfection in the Fall of 2000.
Mature Saxonys weigh between 8 to 9 pounds. They lay about 190-240 large white eggs per year, beginning in early Spring. They don’t grow as fast as some ducks (but that’s ok, because we love ducklings!).
They have gorgeous plumage and produce meat with more flavor and less fat than other breeds.
Drakes colors are distinct from any other breed. Their head, back, and wing markings are blue-gray. The breast feathers are a rich chestnut-burgundy, the underbody and flanks are cream, and the neck ring white. Legs and feet are orange or reddish-brown and the bill is yellow or orange, often with pale green shading. The females are buff with creamy white facial stripes, neck ring, and underbody. The bill is orange, often with brown shading. The legs and feet are orange to reddish-orange. GORGEOUS!
(Cairina moschata) (“Pato mudo”or mute duck in Spanish) (“Barbary duck” in culinary speak)
The Muscovy is native to the Americas, where many Indigenous peoples domesticated them into backyard flocks beginning in pre-Colombian times. Feral Muscovy ducks are still found in New Zealand, Australia, and in parts of Europe.
It is a large duck, with the males about 30 inches long, and weighing up to 15 pounds. Females are considerably smaller, and only grow to 6.5 pounds. The classic Muscovy is predominantly black and white, with the back feathers being iridescent and glossy in males, while the females are more drab. They also are known for the bumpy red caruncles on their faces. In my flock, the caruncles are minimal to non existent and my colors range from white, cream, chocolate with pied, rippled and barred markings.
Muscovy aren’t “really” a duck because they don’t come from Mallards, like every other breed of duck.
Other unique things about Muscovies…
*They don’t quack! This is wonderful because it makes them an ideal member of your backyard flock. The only sound they make is kind of a hiss. Not loud and angry like a goose. More like a “Pssst”.
*They lay about 120 eggs per year, beginning in the Spring.
*They can fly high and far! I’ve woken up to find them in my second story balcony, waiting for me to feed them. If you want them to remain grounded, clip one wing.
*They are natural mothers! My original flock of 5 came from a friend whose farm was involved in the 2020 CZU fire in Santa Cruz County. When he had to evacuate a Mama on her nest got left behind (they like to hide nests) and when he was able to return to his burnt out property 30 days later, there she was with 6 babies! They came to live with me and I fell in love. I mean, she sat that nest while flames licked the barn she was in! That earned her the name Persephone. If you’re interested in breeding, mine each hatched clutches of a dozen in their first year.
* like chickens, they like to roost at night. The higher the better. They have very sharp claws that allow them to do this.
*unlike any ducks I’ve ever had, these are trainable. They’re very smart and recognize things I’m doing. I’ve even worked with a few of them to come running when called, and eat out of my hand.
True love, I tell you!