A Home for Hooves is home to several Muscovy ducks that were rescued in January 2019. They are bush ducks and are very sneaky on where they hide their nests and eggs. Michelle and the volunteers at A Home for Hooves have quite the ordeal trying to keep track of all the nests and eggs. They collect the eggs and then feed them back to the ducks so they can retain the nutrients they've lost through the egg laying process.
There are between 140 – 175 birds in the Anatidae family, which includes all ducks, swans and geese.
Wild Muscovy ducks have dark plumage and can be found in forested areas. The domestic varieties are heavier, less agile and have different plumage which varies. The domestic varieties live on farms and in parks in warm climates around the world.
Wild Muscovy ducks have strong claws and spend a lot of time perching in trees. As Michelle has found out, they make their nests in tree cavities, hidden in the brush and bushy areas.
The largest duck in North America is the male Muscovy duck, while the female is only half their size. The female Muscovy ducks lay 8-15 eggs and then plays protector of the eggs also raises the ducklings. The ducklings have sharp claws and hooked bills which they use to climb out of the nest.
Muscovy ducks are peaceful, calm birds that are quiet and friendly and even hunt flies. Like other ducks, they need water to survive and are hardy in all weathers.
I found this quite funny… if a Muscovy duck is happy or excited, they wag their tales! They also do this as a greeting sign but a male has been known to do it in aggression as well. Muscovy ducks have a flocking behaviour which makes them want to be around people. They live around 8-12 years in the wild but in domestic situations they can live up to 20 years.
Muscovy ducks are their own species. Many people believe that Muscovy ducks are more of a goose than a duck. This is thought because they do not quack and are known as being quackless.
Muscovy ducks eat a variety of different food. They are omnivorous which means that they feed on reptiles, fish, worms and insects. They love finding larvae under rocks, and also eat snails and crabs. Muscovy ducks also eat different plant material like weeds, leaves, seeds and roots.
Female Muscovy ducks start laying eggs when they are about six months old. In the wild, ducks will start laying their eggs in the spring.
Muscovy ducks have something called “caruncles” which are red fleshy parts around their face. Caruncles help Muscovy ducks keep their feathers clean while they peck at the ground or search the water for tasty larvae and insects.
These ducks will lay up to 180 eggs a year and have about four sets of ducklings. The eggs take longer than other poultry to hatch - an egg takes 33 to 35 days to hatch, but a chicken egg hatches in 21 days.
A note if you are going to the sanctuary to see the Muscovy ducks – bread is bad for a bird’s health. They fill up on the bread and then don’t get the right nutrients from insects and other staples in their diet.
Muscovy ducks are gorgeous looking birds. When visiting A Home For Hooves, make sure to ask Michelle to introduce you to these beauties at the sanctuary.
Author: Alex Singleton
This week’s topic is goats. All about goats, and even talking about how sneaky they can be in escaping their corral panel pen at Home for Hooves!
There are four resident goats at A Home for Hooves. These mischievous guys are Finnegan, Buddy, Smurfy and Remi and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these silly yet beautiful boys. A few weeks ago, I had a good laugh with Michelle about the three little ones escaping their new pen and the difficulty she had keeping them in.
Did you know that goats were one of the first animals to be tamed by humans? They’ve been herded for over 9,000 years now. Goats were one of the first animals brought to America and there were goats on the Mayflower!
Goats are very intelligent and like dogs, can even be trained to have a name and come when called. Their lifespan is about the same as a dog. And how could you not like goats? They make you laugh, they smile, and they are oh so mischievous!
You probably know that baby goats are known as “kids”, but did you know that the birth of a baby goat is called “kidding”? No, I’m not kidding…
Finnegan, Buddy, Smurfy and Remi are well into their senior years, but I couldn’t tell when I met them. They’re playful, intelligent and always make me smile.
Did you know goats don’t have teeth on their upper jaw. They use their tongue and upper lip to separate through twigs to get to plant’s leaves. Goats are more intelligent than you probably realize. They live in complex social groups, they are experts at getting hard to reach foods – for example – some goats are known for climbing trees in search of leaves and other vegetation. Goats live for a long time and they are able to build up memories and skills, unlike some other short lived animals.
There is a misconception that goats like to eat garbage. Well, I can assure you that at A Home for Hooves, the four handsome boys are fed fresh, delicious hay and their diet is fine tuned to keep them healthy. Surprisingly, goats are picky eaters. They are able to pick leaves off thorn bushes or seek out the perfect bit of grass.
Researchers have found that goats are just as smart and loving as dogs, and are just as capable of building emotional relationships with humans and other domesticated animals. Unlike sheep, goats are comfortable in living outside of a flock.
So, throw out all those misconceptions you have about goats not being intelligent or good companions. They are just as smart as dogs and make just as good a companion. Head over to A Home for Hooves to meet the four goats and I will assure you, they will make you laugh and are known to pose pretty well for pictures!
Author - Alex Singleton
Did you know that chickens are quite intelligent? The very idea that chickens can actually count and do simple math is puzzling to most people. But, they are actually very smart and can even be cunning in how they react to other chickens, and other humans. Chickens have abilities that compare to a human toddler.Some facts about chickens. Chickens have some degree of self control, and can be quite sneaky. They can actually learn to refuse food, if they knew they’d get more later. As humans, we can recognize thousands of different people. Did you know that chickens can recognize about 100 different individual chickens? They can also recognize different humans. So, they can recognize Michelle coming to feed them, and they can also recognize the volunteers as well! There is an interesting concept that if you show a chicken an object, then take it away, the chicken will actually look for the item as to where you have put it. Baby humans are not able to do this until they’re a bit older.
Chickens can count! They can actually do basic math as objects in front of them are moved. Hens can count to at least six. Even chicks can do basic math. If you shuffle five items in a game, they mentally keep track of the items and choose the area with the higher amount of items. Chickens can do this better than toddlers!
Chickens can multitask. They use one eye to forage for food and the other to look out for predators. They are social animals, and it has been shown that they recover from stress quicker when in the company of other chickens. Also, they can share precise information about the location of food and presence of predators by using different sounds and calls. Ever wonder what the chickens at A Home for Hooves are saying? It’s pretty interesting to know that they are communicating with each other and socializing. They will even change behavior depending on who is around them. Chickens have over 24 types of ways to vocally communicate. They use different vocal sounds for things like an incoming predator or to communicate to stick together. They also can show empathy, they do this by an ability to be protective of their chicks and even the chicks of others!
I mentioned earlier that chickens can be sneaky. They can show Machiavellian manipulation. Machiavellianism in psychology refers to a personality trait when someone is so focused on their own interests, they will manipulate, deceive and exploit others to achieve their goals. So, chickens use this behavior to get what they want. For instance, my example of refusing food, knowing that if they did, they would get a larger amount of food later.
Chickens have a complex nervous system and are sensitive to pain, pressure and temperature. It has also been discovered that chickens can see a broader range of colours than humans.
In relaxed situations, like a Home for Hooves, chickens show a range of behaviors and emotions. They like to play games like hide and seek. Did you know, that by stroking a chicken, it can actually start purring like a cat. Ask Michelle at a Home for Hooves to show you!
So, I’ve personally learned a lot by researching this topic and writing about it. I had no clue how intelligent chickens are and they have feelings, emotions and traits similar to humans, and can actually perform tasks.
Next time you think a chicken is “stupid” – think again!
Author - Alex Singleton