Duck Tales: Troy envisions an exception for the waterfowl breed
A question regarding poultry was posed to Troy City Council last week: Are chickens cleaner or easier to manage than ducks?
Ilona Eubank, a newcomer to Troy and aspiring duck owner, asked the question in hopes of understanding why city regulations allow residents to keep up to five chickens but ban waterfowl. In a letter to the board, Eubank argued that chickens and their semi-aquatic cousins ââhelp regulate insect populations and generate quality fertilizers. She noted that chickens, like ducks, can transmit diseases to humans.
Although quackery can be a nuisance, Eubank said some species, such as Muscovy ducks, emit a “soft peep like smaller birds that many people find attractive.”
Highlighting the apparent discrepancy in Troy’s Cattle Ordinance, Eubank asked councilors to consider allowing residents to keep at least two Muscovy hens.
Other residents, who discussed separate agenda items at the regular meeting on October 13, shared their own experiences of raising ducks. Milo Rogers, owner of a local construction company, vouched for Eubank’s description of the sound produced by Muscovies.
âIt’s almost like a chicken sneeze,â he said. “If you have a mating couple, it’s so weird because they raise their upper features and wag their tails and they wiggle their head back and forth and make a hiss.”
Clay Campbell, Troy’s feed manager, who said he’s been around a lot of Muscovy ducks, asked Eubank how she would prevent her ducks from breeding with local waterfowl. He said Muscovies tend to lay a lot of eggs and if a wild duck were to fly into her yard, she could end up with a surplus of mixed breed ducklings.
Eubank said she plans to house her hens in a mobile pen that will prevent them from dating unwanted mates. She noted that even if one of her hens mated with a local male, her offspring would be sterile.
In addition to producing large amounts of eggs outside of the winter months, Muscovies can easily reach 20 pounds, according to Eubank.
âIf you wanted to eat your duck, you could,â she says.
Campbell agreed, saying some referred to Muscovies as “swamp cows” because of their desirable red meat.
âHell, half the crowd is duck connoisseurs,â said Mayor Dallas Carr.
If authorities were to change the cattle ordinance, City Councilor TJ Boswell has said he would like to see language allowing only certain breeds. He noted that residents were allowed to keep chickens due to the birds’ ability to produce eggs year round. Without the specificity, Boswell was concerned that some residents would have a duck just for the sake of having a duck. He spoke from experience.
âMy wife is one of them,â he said. “She talked about wanting to put a duck on a leash and walk it.”
City councilor Chuck Ekstedt said he was in favor of allowing ducks and noted that his wife was also a fan of poultry. Coworker Shawna Kelsey said she’s not afraid to allow Muscovy ducks as long as owners are able to keep them from coming loose.
Carr recalled how a dark chapter in the history of Trojan cattle management opened about four years ago when someone released a domestic duck into a city pond. The abandoned duck, named Gabby, created a wedge between locals who loved her and residents who feared she might spawn with wild drakes.
As the conflict escalated, dissidents targeted Gabby with darts and the town had to threaten to issue tickets to those who broke her eggs. In July 2020, the city passed an ordinance prohibiting the release of pets on public property or allowing pets to run unattended within city limits. When councilors approved the order, Carr said Gabby would grandfather.
Several residents urged council to carefully consider how changes to the cattle ordinances would affect bear trespassing in Troy. Existing regulations prevent residents from keeping horses, pigs and goats within city limits.
City councilors plan to continue the discussion around Muscovy ducks at a future meeting.