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Pekins vs Rouens - your thoughts please

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Last spring I raised 7 Pekin meat ducks.  While they were a bit of a pain, I decided to do it again this spring.  8 days ago I called my closest feed store and they told me they had Pekins and Rouens available so I made the 45 minute drive to discover they only had Rouens.  I was assured by the feed store employee that I'd be very pleased with the Rouens, that they would put meat on as quickly as the Pekins and be ready for butcher in 7 weeks.  Also, they told me they wouldn't have any more ducks available for three weeks (longer than I wanted to wait) so I bought 7.  I'm now wondering if I've made a big mistake.


Do any of you have experience raising Rouens for meat?  When should I expect to process and get a 4lb+ carcase?


On a side note, yesterday I dropped by and low and behold they had Pekins (grrrrr) I purchased 3, thinking I might be able to sneak them in with my 1 week old Rouens, but the Rouens were more than twice the size of the poor Pekins and wouldn't leave the little guys alone, so I am brooding them separately.  


Do you think I'll be able to raise them together at any time in the near future?

post #2 of 9
I have raised both Pekin and Rouen. In my personal experience I find the Pekin to be extremely noisy extremely messy and while they are reasonably tasty when pasture raised, they are fatty birds. I harvested my pekins at 12 weeks, not seven weeks. The Rouen grow much more slowly but the flavor is wonderful, incomparable. I been told they taste more like mallards then some of the other domestic ducks. I harvested my Rouen at five months. I think the guy in the store sold you a bill of goods regarding the growth rate of those two birds, Pekin are bred to grow very fast and rouen to develop a complex rich flavor. The Rouen are also pretty noisy and messy. It really depends on what you looking for, but for me, I will raise Rouen in the future and not Pekin. Reason your birds together, I think you will find that the Pekin will grow so fast that they will be large enough to house with your rouen very soon.
Edited by jake and pippa - 4/2/16 at 9:42pm
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by jake and pippa View Post

...I think the guy in the store sold you a bill of goods regarding the growth rate of those two birds... 

How frustrating.  I was trying to time my livestock purchases so that when I receive my turkeys and Freedom Ranger chicks in two weeks, the ducks would be ready to move out to the chicken tractor and that by the time the Freedom Rangers were ready to do outside, the ducks would be in the freezer.  I'm going to have to come up with a new plan if I'm going to be raising the Rouens for that long.


I do have a large fenced enclosure that my turkey coop and one of my chicken houses connects into and all my fowl get to come out of their runs and free range for an hour or two in the afternoon when I'm home and my Anatolian Shepherd is out keeping an eye on things but we have so many predators around here that everyone has to be securely locked up at night.  Will ducks go back into a duck house on their own at night (if I were to build one) or would I be running all over the big pen every night trying to find them and lock them up?  How about going back in their pens after a freeranging experience?  Chickens and turkeys are usually really easy to lure insid if you have some scratch in hand but my Pekins just ran in terror every time I came near them so they stayed in the tractor.

post #4 of 9

OK, I am not an expert, just started about a year ago, but I do this full time.  I have a lot of birds, ducks, chickens and a few geese.  My ducks were easily trained to go in a shed at night.  I use moveable electric poultry netting, and I placed it tight on either side of the ramp to the shed, then corralled birds up the ramp. Of course, the fence was cold while I did this. Then I placed it about the closed shed and turned on the power.  My birds free range within about an acre surrounded by charged poultry netting all day, no Anatolian, no problems with predators.  They do hang out under a pine tree a lot, I assume they are wary of raptors.  We do have lots of predators here, but the netting works very well to protect.  Used other netting to cover pens with ducklings to protect from raptors.  The netting is from Premier 1, and they use it to protect beehives from bears.  My German shepherds won't go anywhere near it.  Premier says predators do not dig under it, because they quickly learn it hurts, and so avoid it.  My adult Muscovy ducks are not confined at night at all, just protected by the netting.  My adult Rouen also free ranged all night.  They had been trained to go to the shed if I walked them that way, so when I wanted to contain them, I put them in the shed in the evening, and caught them indoors the next morning for processing.  I do my own processing.  Over the past year, I have raised and processed a few each of Cayuga, Pekin, Rouen, Khaki Campbell and Muscovy.  I harvested my Pekin at 12 weeks, they were larger and plumper at that age.  I use wax to remove feathers and down, works very well, giving a clean carcass even if you start with a black duck, such as a Cayuga.


You can also use food to entice ducks in, but they are creatures of habit.  Once they got used to going into the shed at night, I could coral them in using outstretched arms, sometimes with poles, walking slowly.  I trained the geese the same way to come into the fenced area at night, they ranged over a few acres grazing during the day, and returned at dusk for a snack. Now, because my geese are laying they are housed separately several hundred feet away with another length of electric poultry netting.  The gander was too aggressive towards my other birds once his geese started to lay.


I currently have 60 8 week old meat birds in a yard attached to a shed.  They will not be harvested until about 14 weeks of age.  I have trained them to walk up the ramp in the evening.  They know there is food and water inside.  After they eat/drink some, I leave them without food//water overnight.  The Pekin will be less flighty if you can hand raise them.  The more comfortable they are with you as ducklings, the calmer they will be later on.  I know that is easier said then done.


My methods have evolved over the past year, but in general, I train birds to go into the shed at night, then let them range in a pen during the day, and return to the shed at night.  Finally, I let them free range during the day, and pen or place in a shed at night.  Adult ducks can sleep outdoors through the winter as long as they have shelter with a hay floor for bad weather.  Same for geese.  Muscovy are more sensitive to cold, and should be sheltered winter nights.  My chickens go to their coop at night to roost and I wander out later to shut the door.  Once again, I rely a lot on my poultry netting, and so far, so good.  I do rely on my GSDs to alert me to predators at night, but they cannot be trusted to stay with the birds, except the geese.  They keep their distance, but now the geese are nesting, and the dogs will steal goose eggs if given half a chance.


Regarding your schedule, Rouen are not aggressive, so once you train to go into a shed, in my experience they can range with any chickens or ducks.  I guess I would just be concerned about them all getting too crowded.  

post #5 of 9
I don't raise anything for eating but rouens grow slower but get bigger than Pekins. If you are looking for a very good meat duck then I suggest the Aylesbury duck. They are white like the pekin, the size of a Rouen and they have white skin unlike most white ducks that have yellow skin. They are a European breed and you won't find many in America but people do have them. I am not going to eat a duck or anything I've raised soI couldn't tell you which one is better but rouens are slower growers but bigger and Pekins are very messy and noisy but grow faster.
post #6 of 9

No experience with Aylesbury.  I go for birds known for excellent flavor.  I certainly agree with RandomePerson's description of Pekin vs Rouen.  The Rouen do get bigger eventually, 8-9 pounds when full grown, but my birds were about 4 1/3 pounds at five months.  I do not feed my birds for maximum growth, they get game bird pellets, forage a lot and also get fresh fruits/veggies and grains.  The Rouen are not exactly quiet, and not exactly clean, but they taste so good (to my palette) that I will order more.  Of course, if you get all drakes of either breed they are a lot quieter.

post #7 of 9

In a week or two, my guess is that the Pekin should have grown fast enough to brood with the Rouen.  Last year I bought 4 Pekin and 3 Rouen, same hatch date, and after a few weeks the Pekin were noticeably larger.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks folks.  I'm working on a little duck house outside in the big multi-use run.  Hopefully it will be big enough for night-time digs for the 7 Rouens and the 3 Pekins in 3 or 4 weeks when I move them out of the garage brooders. The Pekins I'll probably process at 7 or 8 weeks and leave the Rouens longer into the summer.  I'll make it work somehow.

post #9 of 9
I recently bought Rouen duckings from Metzer. They are very healthy and adorable. Interestingly, they look not at all like what was being sold as Rouen at the local feed store. Furthermore the feed store had birds they called pekins that were clearly mixed breeds as they had some black or dark brown feathers on their heads. So I would be a little cautious getting ducklings from the feed store.
Edited by jake and pippa - 5/5/16 at 6:19am
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