If It Looks Like A Duck

If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck but doesn't quack like a duck, then it's probably a Muscovy duck. Last summer when I first entertained the idea of raising ducks, I found that the most common breed available for meat was the white Pekin. This is what stores sell as Long Island Duckling. When you think of duck as being fatty or greasy, this is the duck in question. This is the duck of choice for commercial purposes because they gain weight rapidly and are ready for the market in 7 to 8 weeks. Just as we reject the Cornish Cross hen because it also was bred for rapid weight gain, we decided against the Pekin.

After consulting with one of my favorite chefs, we decided on the Muscovy. The Muscovy is the duck of choice in finer restaurants as it is prized for its lean meat and rich flavor. Of course, just like the chickens that we raise for meat this breed of duck also takes twice as long to reach market weight of about 8 pounds.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Muscovy does not quack like a duck. These ducks make quiet hissing sounds or breathy squeaks. They have amazingly large feet and sharp claws which enable them to perch in trees or on rooftops. And they have a face you will never forget. Wart-like growths called caruncles surround their beaks and eyes. Most of the ducks we are familiar with are Mallard derivatives. We have two ducks that fill that bill(pun intended). One of them is Campbell, a gift from Sarah and Conner (not to be confused with Sarah Connor of The Terminator) of Diggin Roots Farm. Campbell has been raised with the chickens and has been a good egg layer until recently. Our most recent addition is Norman the Duck who may be a story unto himself one day.

We raised 16 ducks this year with the intention of butchering 13 of them. Three lucky ones will get the chance to breed. We butchered 6 of of them a few weeks ago with the help of three guests that wanted a hands-on farm experience. We are always happy to show guests how their food gets from farm to table. By unanimous agreement, the next 7 ducks will get processed by a professional. It was the plucking that did us all in. Even scalding and paraffin was of little help.

You can expect to see duck making an appearance on our menus in the coming year, most notably as duck confit in cassoulet.

Laura Morgan first grade teacher extraordinaire
3 day old Muscovy Duckling

Muscovy Ducks

16 week old Muscovy Ducks

Plucked Duck

Muscovies perched on the roof of the chicken coop

Khaki Campbell

Khaki Campbell

Norman the Duck

Norman the Duck

What is your experience with duck? Have you raised them? Plucked them? Have you ever eaten Muscovy Duck?