The Muscovy Duck
Standard
Brian Paul Witt
The White Muscovy was admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1874,
and since that time, three other varieties have been admitted.  It is a very popular
breed at poultry shows, and is a breed that is constantly improving in type, size, and
color.  When evaluating Muscovies, there are large differences in how judges see a
'correct' specimen.  The intent of this article will focus only on Muscovies in North
America; those that fall under the jurisdiction of the APA and the American Standard
of Perfection.

Weight

The Standard of Perfection (SOP) states:
Old Drake          12 lbs
Young Drake      10 lbs
Old Duck            7 lbs
Young Duck        6 lbs

In 'Disqualifications', under 'Weights', the SOP reads (page 33 in the 1998 B&W
edition):
"any bird...that deviates more than 20% either up or down from the weight listed for
its breed, sex and age should be disqualified."  Most exhibition Muscovies weigh
more than the SOP dictates.  An old drake that is more than 14.5 lbs., by SOP
definition should be disqualified.  Some breeders, including myself, weigh their birds
regularly, sometimes several times a year and record the weights.  This gives us an
accurate measure of what a bird should weigh at different times of the year, as there
are many different factors that determine the weight of a Muscovy such as weather,
the breeding season, and moult.  Given that most exhibition mature drakes will
weigh 15 to 19 lbs. and mature females will weigh 8 to 10 lbs. during the Fall show
season, I suggest increasing the weight proportionally, that is 3 lbs. for old and
young drakes, and 1.5 lbs for old and young ducks.  This would give the needed
allowance for these large ducks and they would be in conformity with the SOPs
weight disqualification percentage.

Caruncles

Caruncles are a characteristic of Muscovies.  A Muscovy that displays a smooth head
and face, in respect to caruncling, is rightly criticized by the SOP, as this is a
"Specimen lacking in breed characteristics."  in the 1993 SOP (the Color Standard), a
comment on caruncles under 'HEAD' (this was deleted in the 1998 SOP) reads, "..the
larger the better."  This needs to be included in all future Standards.  The 1998 SOP
is somewhat clearer when it states, "...convered uniformly with caruncles which may
extend to the neck."  Some have expressed concern that the caruncles on Muscovies
has become excessive.  True, there are ducks with excessive caruncles, but the SOP
prohibits a duck with a lack of symmetry ("covered uniformly") or one whose
caruncles interferes with its sight or breathing.  In so far as the caruncles are
symmetrical and do not interfere with its sight or breathing, a heavily caruncled
Muscovy should not be penalized.  Another point from the SOP that relates to
caruncles on Muscovies is found under 'GENERAL COMMENTS', number 6 (page 5 in
the 1998 B&W edition): "Chickens grown under warm conditions will usually develop
a relatively larger comb and wattles than those grown in cooler climates."  This
comment should also be seen as relating to the caruncles on the Muscovy as any
breeder will confirm the fact that caruncles are larger and more developed in
warmer parts of the country.  Any description of caruncles should include comments
about the undesirable 'gypsy color' seen in many Black and Blue Muscovies.

Black in the bean of White drakes

Black is seen in the bean of White drakes, though very rarely in young specimens, it
occurs more often than not in adults.  This fault usually appears as 'pencil marks',
sometimes only one, but it is not uncommon to see several in the bean.  According
to the SOP, black in the bill or bean of any white drake (regardless of breed) is a
disqualification (page 34 in the B&W edition.)  Many times, a judge will overlook this
and have placed birds with this fault on Championship Row.  When this is done, other
exhibitors have a legitimate complaint, as this is in violation of the SOP.  An
exception for Muscovy drakes (I am not familiar enough with other white breeds to
suggest any changes) should be made for several reasons.  White Muscovy drakes
are very susceptible to these black markings.  In talking with other breeders of
Whites, it seems to occur in more than 75% of adult drakes of this variety.  
Interestingly, I have only seen one white female with black in it's bean, and there is
an exemption for white females in the SOP.  It would seem that this is a problem
that is unique to White Muscovy drakes.  While this should be considered a fault and
defect in a show specimen, to disqualify a bird for this is extremely harsh and
excessive.  

Type

In the 1993 APA Yearbook (page 304) an article entitled "BLACK DUCK SEMINAR" by
Lou Horton lists some type problems by breed.  Under the heading "Typical Type
Problems by Breed," there are some comments on Colored Muscovies: "Narrow
and/or 'smooth' heads, lack of great length and width of back.   Lack of body depth.  
A refined rather than massive scale to the bird overall." (emphasis mine)  
Unfortunately, this negative description is depicted in the drawings in the B&W and
Color SOP as these are more indicative of young specimens.  The drawings do not
portray the depth that an adult Muscovy should have, and this has translated to
many Muscovies in the showroom.  Jim Konecny has modified some drawings for his
2003 APA Yearbook article entitled "Judging Muscovies" that are more representative
of Muscovy type.  Future drawings should depict a drake and duck that is much
deeper than the current renderings.  Mr. Konecny's description of Muscovies at
different ages and at different stages of maturity is invaluable information for
exhibitors and judges.  Too often, rangy birds lacking in depth (albeit in good
condition) are placed at shows.  Much of the time, these Muscovies lacking good type
are not cooped where they should be, so that the judge has difficulty seeing the
entire bird.  Judges should not be impressed with condition only, and a well
conditioned bird should never be placed over one with better type; one that is
healthy but appears 'out of condition' because it has lost or broken some feathers on
it's way to the show.  A good adult breeding female will have a heavy stern, many
times dragging the ground.  This also is characteristic of the breed and should not be
penalized.

These suggestions are meant to help breeders and judges and should be seen as aids
to clarifying the Standard for Muscovy ducks.  I would appreciate any comments
relating to this discussion.
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