The flavour, texture and fat content of duck meat depends on the breed. Domestic ducks are generally fattier than wild ducks; their fat is located directly underneath the skin. Peking ducks, for instance, have very rich meat and a large amount of fat. They must cook for a long time to ensure that the fat spreads through the meat and skin, yielding a perfectly crisp roast duck. Muscovy ducks are a crossbreed between mallard and wild drake; they have been bred in France since the late eighteenth century. Their meat is relatively lean and low in fat. Wild ducks are wildfowl; they live freely in their natural habitats. They have lean, savoury meat.
Ducks live largely in and around water. This environment meets all of the birds; requirements: they can dabble, swim, wash and even sleep in order to escape predators such as foxes or martens. Ducks are sociable, communicative animals that only take flight for protection or migration to their wintering grounds. Those that stay on the ground are called Muscovy ducks. They have more body mass and their meat is aromatic and tender.
There are no separate guidelines for breeding Muscovy ducks, pigeons and guinea fowl, as they are considered flying wildfowl. Traditional breeding methods as those used for Bresse poultry are only possible to a limited extent – the birds do not spend their days entirely on the farm and roam the area instead. They might even stay away for several days, but always return to their farm in the end. As Miéral and his team of breeders pay just as much attention to his ducks and their feed as they do to “his” chickens, Miéral also markets his Muscovy duck and wild ducks under the protected “Excellence” label.
“Le Prince de Dombes” ducks come from the Dombes region in the east of France. This area is located directly underneath the famous Bresse region. They have almost identical soil, and poultry from the Dombes region is equal in quality to that from Bresse.