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The Ducks   Print  E-mail 


Muscovy ducks

The ducks bred in La Fontaine Pataux belong to the breed of Muscovy ducks, often considered mute, since, unlike other ducks, they do not quack but produce only the discreetest of sounds. Although the name Muscovy would point to a Russian origin, the Muscovy comes from Central and South America, where it had been tamed from the wild and bred for centuries before the arrival of the conquistadores, who brought specimens to Europe.
It is the heaviest of all duck breeds, with males weighing between 4 and 5 kg and females between 2 and 3kg. With plenty of food and a tranquil life in the sunshine, we have bred males weighing over 6 kg, truly imposing birds. The Muscovy is characterized by caruncles, impressive folds of red skin surrounding the upper beak and the eyes of mature drakes. Females usually sport simply a patch of red skin around the eyes. Wild Muscovy nest in hollow trees far from the ground. It is a breed which does not need water to feed, to reproduce and to raise offspring, although baths are welcome and taken with gusto to clean the plumage. This life generally outside the water is the reason why Muscovy do not, like other ducks, have a thick layer of fat between the skin and the flesh: they do not require the extra insulation, and their layer of fat is thin and firm. In addition, their meat is one of the leanest of all ducks, and considered the tastiest.

Their life on the farm
At La Fontaine Pataux, between 50 and 70 adult breeding ducks live outside throughout the year, but have at their disposal small, dry houses, with a regularly changed layer of straw, where they can seek refuge from bad weather. However, Muscovy are hardy animals and usually prefer to stay outside. They can withstand freezing temperatures in the winter, and obviously do not fear rain, except when ducklings are still very small. Only strong wind sends crowds of ducks inside their houses. In spring, the females lay their eggs in nests they prepare in the straw inside their houses. The eggs are collected and placed in a hatching machine. The ducklings hatch between May and July. After this first hatching season, which allows us to ensure a regular minimum production, we leave the later eggs to the ducks, some of which sit with devotion and raise between 5 and 15 ducklings. At the beginning of their lives, small ducklings need protection from the cold and from rain, but thereafter all ducklings live outside, like the adults, to be raised on grass and in the fresh air in spacious meadows.

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