Domestic muscovy duck

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Domestic Muscovy duck
A Piebald Muscovy drake
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cairina
C. m. domestica
Trinomial name
Cairina moschata domestica
(Donkin, 1989)

Cairina moschata momelanotus

The domestic Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata domestica) is a domesticated form of the wild Muscovy duck that originated in South America. It is bred for meat, feathers and eggs, as pets and sometimes as guard animals.[1]


Piebald Muscovy drake

Muscovy ducks had been domesticated by various Native American cultures in the Americas when Columbus arrived in the Bahamas. The first few were brought onto the Columbus ship Santa Maria they then sailed back to Europe by the 16th century.

The Muscovy duck has been domesticated for centuries, and is widely traded as "Barbary duck". Muscovy breeds are popular because they have stronger-tasting meat—sometimes compared to roasted beef—than the usual domestic ducks which are descendants of the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). The meat is lean when compared to the fatty meat of mallard-derived ducks, its leanness and tenderness being often compared to veal. Muscovy ducks are also less noisy, and sometimes marketed as a "quackless" duck; even though they are not completely silent, they don't actually quack (except in cases of extreme stress). The carcass of a Muscovy duck is also much heavier than most other domestic ducks, which makes it ideal for the dinner table.


Lavender drake

Domestic Muscovy ducks are typically somewhat larger than wild-type Muscovy ducks. The domestic drake (male), length is about 86 cm (34 in) and weight is 4.6–6.8 kg (10–15 lb), while the domestic hen (female) is much smaller, at 64 cm (25 in) in length and 2.7–3.6 kg (6.0–7.9 lb) in weight. Large domesticated males often weigh up to 8 kg (18 lb), and large domesticated females up to 5 kg (11 lb).

Domesticated Muscovy ducks, like those pictured in this article, often have plumage different from wild birds. White and light-colored breeds are preferred for meat production, as darker ones can have much melanin in the skin, which some people find unappealing.

Domestic varieties[edit]

Lavender hen

The original species is approximately black, with small white marks on the wings. Domestic birds come in a variety of colors and patterns.

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Chocolate
  • Piebald (white with any color mixed)
  • White
  • Lavender
  • Bronze
  • Ripple
  • many Pastel colors, but these are very rare


The Muscovy duck can be crossed with mallards in captivity to produce hybrids, known as mulard duck ("mule duck") because they are sterile. Muscovy drakes are commercially crossed with mallard-derived hens either naturally or by artificial insemination. The 40–60% of eggs that are fertile result in birds raised only for their meat or for production of foie gras: they grow fast like mallard-derived breeds but to a large size like Muscovy ducks. Conversely, though crossing Mallard drakes with Muscovy hens is possible, the offspring are desirable neither for meat nor for egg production.[2][3]

In addition, Muscovy ducks are reportedly cross-bred in Israel with Mallards to produce kosher duck products. The kashrut status of the Muscovy duck has been a matter of rabbinic discussion for over 150 years.[3]


Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic preparation made from Muscovy duck liver and heart manufactured by the French company Boiron; similar products are also available from other manufacturers. Typically diluted with lactose and sucrose to 1:10400 (far less than one in one googol), they are advertised to relieve influenza-like symptoms, but no evidence has been found of its efficacy.[4] [5]


  1. ^ "Ultimate homestead bird". Off the Grid.
  2. ^ Holderread 2001, p. 97
  3. ^ a b Zivotofsky, Rabbi Ari Z.; Amar, Zohar (2003). "The Halachic Tale of Three American Birds: Turkey, Prairie Chicken, and Muscovy Duck". Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. 6: 81–104.
  4. ^ van der Wouden, J.C.; Bueving, H.J.; Poole, P. (2005). "Preventing influenza: an overview of systematic reviews". Respiratory Medicine. 99 (11): 1341–1349. doi:10.1016/j.rmed.2005.07.001. PMID 16112852.
  5. ^ Mathie, RT; Frye, J; Fisher, P (28 January 2015). "Homeopathic Oscillococcinum® for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like illness". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1: CD001957. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001957.pub6. PMID 25629583.