Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
Posted Aug 13, 2015
We have been keeping white Muscovy ducks for about three or four years now; we try to keep the numbers down to about one male and eleven females, and the rest go in the pot. They are a hardy bird, surviving our zero degree winters and forty-eight degree bone-dry summers. They are excellent mothers and good layers and they will breed twice a year in our climate.
We started with only two ducks and a naive idea that we couldn’t possibly end up with too many. Before we knew it, we had a multitude; not a problem when you have growing boys to feed, and feed, and feed, but we needed a system.
One bright idea was to take a box of ducklings with me when I went to the market to sell honey. For those of you who don’t know, Muscovy ducklings (or any ducklings) are the cutest creatures ever created. I put the box at one end of my stall and waited for the first “Aaaaw, aren’t they cute?”
I didn’t have to wait long. Kids came from everywhere demanding that mum should buy them a duckling. I sold more honey that day than ever before, and I sold a lot of ducklings. However, there was something not right about the whole thing. Many parents would hand me the couple of bucks for a duckling as though I was an extortionist who had somehow held their peace of mind to ransom.
The next week I had a new strategy. I put my box of ducklings on the end of the stall with a big “NOT FOR SALE” sign on them. I figured I the cute little guys could still draw the customers for my honey sales but parents could point to the sign and refuse to be cajoled, wheedled or threatened. I would be the big meanie, not them. Of course, if they did choose to buy one it was because they had talked the mean man into selling one – everybody won.
Everybody except the ducklings.
Looking back, it took a long time for me to realise where all these ducklings were going. How many would reach maturity? Where would they live? What would they eat?
Some would say that they can’t take a duck, lay it’s head on a chopping block and, in one quick sweep, turn it into dinner. I can, and I think there are many worse fates out there for hapless animals.