With our focus on sustainability here at Good Life Ranch, we don't raise the industry-standard breeds of chickens and turkeys precisely because they are "industry standard." This means that the birds were bred to be grown in the climate-controlled, crowded, filthy environment found in a standard poultry house. They were bred to be grown with the support of 24-hour-per-day access to feed packed full of growth hormones and antibiotics. For meat chickens, that breed is the Cornish x White Rock hybrid. For turkeys, that breed is the Broad-Breasted White. And for ducks, that breed is the Pekin.

Pekin ducks grow very large very quickly, have pure white feathers that leave a carcass without any dark specks, and are so large that they can't fly away from danger. This duck can get to 8 pounds in only 49 days. They don't do very well in an environment where they have to forage for their own food or in an environment with predators and without climate control.

For those reasons and others, we have chosen to raise the heritage Muscovy ducks at Good Life Ranch. Muscovies are unrelated to any other domestic ducks. While all other domesticated ducks arose in Eurasia, Muscovies were developed in the New World. They don't quack, but they do hiss and purr and they can make the feathers on top of their heads stand up like a mohawk.

Muscovies smaller than Pekins, with a great difference in size between the drakes and hens. But their meat is of gourmet quality and they lay eggs at almost twice the rate of Pekin ducks, making them a better fit for a dual-purpose duck operation like ours that wishes to produce both meat and eggs. Muscovy hens are also tremendous setters and excellent mothers. Muscovy meat is more similar to beef in flavor and texture than to traditional duck meat.

They are active foragers who can get most of their feed on their own from grasses, seeds, invertebrates, and aquatic life. Our Muscovies live a wonderful existence on their very own pond. They have a shelter for times when the weather gets bad and an electric fence to hold off the coyotes, bobcats, and other predators. One critical trait of Muscovies for the way that we raise them is that they are superb flyers (expecially the hens). They can escape most 4-legged predators by taking to the air. They spend their days swimming through the pond looking for fish, tadpoles, and other tidbits and basking in the sun on the pond's banks. They always manage to amuse us with their antics!

The downside to duck is the difficulty getting the feathers plucked off of any waterfowl. For that reason, we offer 2 prices on our ducks - 1 for a plucked duck and 1 for a skinned duck.

Price: Prices are $6.00 per pound for a whole skinned duck or $10.00 per pound for a whole plucked duck.

Availability: Fall 2014