Muscovy ducks are one of the few breeds that are not mallard-derived. They are their own species and are closer related to a goose than they are a duck!
They are easy to sex as adults as the males tend to be much larger in size than the females. Males will average out to 12-20 (on the larger side) pounds while the females stay small, about 6-8 pounds.
They are also the "quackless" ducks! They make quiet hissing and cooing sounds and do not "quack" like your other domestic duck breeds.
Colors and patterns (I like pretty, rare birds in color and pattern).
Smaller caruncles (I personally do not like large caruncles so also breed for birds with smaller ones that do not obstruct their vision.)
Aggression (This is a genetic trait with this breed that I have bred out which makes birds from my flock especially calm natured, gentle and fun for any backyard flock.)
Foraging ability (They are excellent foragers which helps cut down feed costs)
Broodiness (I only breed hens proven to be good at hatching and raising clutches.)
The most common color. Blacks tend to have a green or purple sheen to them after a new molt.
A dilution of black. Can be light or dark grey in color. Babies are usually similar to black in color but lighter. Blues will also usually show lacing on their feathers.
A rich brown in color, fades the quickest in the sunlight. Babies are brown in color also.
A dilution of blue. These birds are a smooth light grey in color. As juveniles, they may or may not have shades of buff and brown on them that molt out with adult feathering. As babies, they can be yellow with colored bills or are a light purple-y grey in color.
Combination of blue and chocolate. SInce blue is part of the genetic makeup of this color, lilacs can also vary in shades of color. As babies, they are a tannish light brown color.
Black with a pastel gene. These are a smooth dark or light grey in color once fully feathered. No buff or brown tones. No lacing. This color can only be reproduced by breeding lavenders or two birds that carry the lavender genes. Babies can be easily confused with silvers as they too are a light purple-y grey in color with colored legs and bills.
Buff is a combination of silver and chocolate. These are a light tan or peachy in color, some will look like a dirty white.
Chocolate combined with lavender will make creams. These tend to look like dirty whites and do not show blue tones. (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hopkins)
White is another common muscovy color. These are mainly raised as meat ducks as the white feathers allow the to dress clean. Some will have a colored cap on their heads (referred to as "French Whites"). White can also mask other colors so white bred to colored birds can produce colors as well as pieds.
Newly found in the US, bronze is the same as Sepia (term used in other countries). This color will look brown with a metallic hue to it, and they tend to have light colored feet and bills. This color can vary from light to dark in shade. It is a recessive gene so birds must have a copy from each parent to be bronze in color.
Fume is bronze and blue on the same bird. These will look smoky in color and lighter than blues. They will also have light colored feet and bills.
Tortora is bronze and silver. They can vary in shade but tend to be a very light silver color and tend to have bleedthrough feathers in differing blue shades.
Platinum is bronze and lavender. This color tends to be lighter in shade than lavender, and has a metallic hue almost like an opal!
Copper is bronze and chocolate combined. It appears to be lighter in color than chocolate, bot not as light as buff. And has a slight metallic hue to it. Like lavender and blue/silver, it is advised not to combine these colors simply as they can easily be confused with one anther to the untrained eye. But test breeding can help determine true color.
Pied can be found in any color. They are birds with white on them, generally in a non specific pattern.
If only white on the chest, then it's "Bibbed". But white anywhere else would make a pied.
"Magpie" is often confused with pied but is a separate gene. Similar to the lavender color, the magpie pattern can only be reproduced with birds that carry the magpie genes. In appearance, they have a colored cap, saddle on the back, and tail.
"White head" is also called the Canzine gene. This is a dominant trait found in many flocks. The amount of white that shows on the head depends on how many copies of the gene a bird inherits. It can show up as early as their first adult molt around 4 months old, or it can take 2-3 years for the white head to cover the entire head.
Barred birds are easy to pick out. As babies, they are always yellow with a colored tail tip. The color of their tail tells you what color they will feather out to be. The barred pattern is white plus color, in a striped pattern, on the feathers. It shows up best as a juvenile (a duckling's first set of feathers) and generally covers the whole body. But as the bird molts into adult feathering, the barring tends to disappear. It can molt out entirely, it can show only under the wings and on the back, or if can show on most of the body through selective breeding (rare to find birds that do not molt the barring out).
Ripples used to be rare but are becoming more common in backyard flocks. The pattern is easy to pick out as it shows on all feathers and does not molt out like the barring. It is one color in various shades in a striped OR laced pattern on each and every feather. The ripple gene does dilute colors though. So chocolate ripples look more buff in color. Dark ripples (black) can look blue in certain sunlight, etc. Ripples can also be found in any muscovy color. As ducklings, these usually do not look different than non rippled muscovy. I have had a couple that hatch with ripples showing in their down, but most do not. So you have to grow these out at least to tail feathering to see if they will be ripple.
Looneys are still a rarity in muscovy and theres very little information about them. I have made it a point to take pictures and document looneys for educational purposes. Genetically, looneys are a combination of ripple and barred on the same bird. In order to be a true looney, the bird must have a copy of each from both parents. As ducklings, these look like barred babies. Yellow down with a colored tail tip. Some will also have a black/grey hue to their down.
These two colors are easy to confuse as they can look so similar as babies and adults. The only difference I've been able to document is silvers are slightly lighter in color and will sometimes have brown tones. Lavender will never have brown or tan tones.
Left and middle are blue looneys. Right is a blue barred.
Click on the download below for a chart of most muscovy colors and what is produced when certain colors are bred to each other. This is a project I am still working on so will be updated periodically
Bronze Barred Young Hens