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Waterfowl for Meat Production Thread - Ducks, Geese, and Muscovies

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I haven't really seen any good, active threads about raising waterfowl for meat production. Lots and lots of chicken threads, of course, but not much on the webbed feet front. So, this thread is for chatting about raising, managing, butchering, and cooking ducks, muscovies, and geese.

 

Currently in my brooder I have a pair of American Buff goslings, Welsh Harlequin ducklings, Grimaud Hybrid Pekins, a Muscovy, and some chicks (English Orps and Golden Cuckoo Marans). They are being brooded in a 12'x12' rubber matted horse stall. The heat source is a Premier 1 heat plate for 50 chicks. Mostly just the chicks use it now as the waterfowl prefer snuggling together in the straw. All of the waterfowl are 3 weeks and the chicks are 4 weeks.

 

Goslings with Welsh Harlequins:

 

There are 2 Grimaud Hybrid Ducklings front and center. They're almost as big as the goslings. You can just barely see the back of the GC Marans cockerel between the ducklings.

American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

Waterfowl for Meat Production Thread

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American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

Waterfowl for Meat Production Thread

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post #2 of 28

I am very interested in this thread. I don't have any water fowl... YET, but I am considering adding them. I am leaning t'ward Muscovy as I have heard they have the most "beef like" meat. 

 

I will be looking forward to hearing what folks have to say on the subject of water fowl for meat.

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Welcome to the thread! That's what I've heard about Muscovies too. If the one that I'm growing out now ends up being male I'll be able to test that out.

American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

Waterfowl for Meat Production Thread

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American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

Waterfowl for Meat Production Thread

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post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

I have 3 different age groups of goslings and didn't start tracking until last week. Goslings F and G are the oldest and are now primarily eating grass and showing some awesome growth rates. The larger one is 81.2 oz! Goslings A and B are 2 females from Ideal - interestingly their 1 week weights were lower than those I hatched here. The final group is C, D, and E and they were bred and hatched here. Sorry to anyone with OCD about the lack of alphabetical order on this chart. :D

 

 

Now the Welsh Harlequins. This is a mix of male and female ducklings. The heaviest, G, is 48.1 oz. The smallest, D, is quite runty at 30.4 oz. 

 

 

And then the Hybrid Pekins. They're due to butcher out in 2 weeks at the ripe old age of 7 weeks. The largest is currently 71 oz and the smallest is 58.8.

American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

Waterfowl for Meat Production Thread

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American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

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post #5 of 28

@hellbender I think I found what you are talking about. http://www.freedomrangerhatchery.com/white-muscovy-ducks.asp 

 

I looked around for something more local but have not found it yet. If I have a pen ready this year I may order some from these folks and take a chance on the long ship.

 

I find a lot of Muscovy adds on Craig's list but most are just mixed colors that do not appear to have been breed with intent.

 

Thanks for the tip these may just be the way to go.

post #6 of 28
I'd like to try to resurrect this thread. I butcher my extra drakes for the freezer (Pekin runner crosses) and am seriously thinking of getting geese this spring. Haven't decided on a breed but the parents would be pets/yard ornaments and the idea would be to butcher any offspring. Does anyone do this and want to talk about it?

My concerns are 1) I've read that geese will mourn the loss of a member of the group. Is that true? 2) I'm not sure how I would kill a goose, I use the broomstick method for chickens and ducks and don't think I have the upper body strength to kill a goose this way

.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cottontail farm View Post

I'd like to try to resurrect this thread. I butcher my extra drakes for the freezer (Pekin runner crosses) and am seriously thinking of getting geese this spring. Haven't decided on a breed but the parents would be pets/yard ornaments and the idea would be to butcher any offspring. Does anyone do this and want to talk about it?

My concerns are 1) I've read that geese will mourn the loss of a member of the group. Is that true? 2) I'm not sure how I would kill a goose, I use the broomstick method for chickens and ducks and don't think I have the upper body strength to kill a goose this way

.
I butchered out one of cull females earlier this year. She was delicious! I've actually spoken with the owner of a charcuterie "school" about using some of my ducks and geese for a class. He was very interested and I will be hatching heavily this coming year with that in mind. Not to mention putting some culls into our own freezer.

They will definitely miss a flock member that they've been with for a longer length of time. I'm not sure that they would mourn a flock member that wasn't with them very long though. Mine certainly didn't seem bothered by me culling out 2 birds this year.

I doubt that I could use the broomstick method for a goose. Their necks are thick and strong. I bled out the goose that we ate, but I almost think I will use a hatchet next time.

American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

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American Buff Geese - Welsh Harlequin Ducks - Alpacas

 

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post #8 of 28
We've raised muscovies for several years now. we keep a breeding pair and she hatches and raises the ducklings. they almost always ars free ranging through yard and orchard and eat a lot of grass, weeds, insects, etc. we feed regular chicken feed, sometimes cull garden grrens and overripe bananas (from our farm). they have a couple of small tubs that they can bathe in and drink out of, since we have no natiral water features. they are super cute and amusing ducks as well as useful.

the ducklings are slaughtered at around three months old--younger and there is almost no breast meat, older and their growth slows dramatically. males typically dress out at around 5 pounds or a little more, females at around 3 and a half if i recall--its been a while since i weighed any.

they are absolutely delicious. meat is dark, almost a red meat, and the fat is golden and succulent. but they are kind of a hassle to pluck and clean.

we kill by decapitation. i do not recommend any of the standard poultry methods: the "kosher method" will not kill a musvovy humanely at all (learned from others mistakes, not my own) and cervical dislocation would be extremely difficult as their necks are so muscular. we hold them by the wings usually, loop a small noose around the neck and then stretch slightly over a chopping block and give a good hard swing with a very sharp machete. we then promptly grasp the neck and direct the flow of blood from the arteries into a container, to save for recipes. they are penned up and "starved" overnight before slaughter to avoid getting wet, runny duck poop all over the carcass--i do not recommend overlooking this step, tho you might get away with it in a pinch!

to pluck, they can be dunked in scalding water like a chicken but you have to work at it a bit more. it is almost impossible to pluck every last downy feather, so we singe the smallest ones off with a propane weed torch.

adult muscovies can fly, but ducklings cannot until around slaughter age. however, in my ecperience, they resent being penned anyway. i wouldnt really recommend them unless you have the room to free range, because they would eat a lot more otherwise and quickly foul a small pen without good management. they seem ideal for meat production for the homestead with lots of room, as they can be largely self-reliant in that kind of situation. they are pretty mellow and quiet, but good foragers and can be great mothers. they have a delightfully quirky and intelligent personality. they naturally grow as quickly as freedom ranger type chickens but are much tastier.

we will probably be phasing ours out soon though, because they keep getting into the gardens recently and becoming a nuisance.

ours were not any special variety, just some mixed black and white ones we got locally for free. i dont think sourcing particular breeds of muscovy is particularly useful--they have not been selectively breed as intensively as other poultry or waterfowl anyway, and that is one of their advantages. for most homestead type situations i would simply recommend the hardy local landrace stock for utility purposes.
Edited by triplepurpose - 12/27/16 at 5:18pm
Chickens are the Swiss Army knife of farm animals
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Chickens are the Swiss Army knife of farm animals
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post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by triplepurpose View Post

We've raised muscovies for several years now. we keep a breeding pair and she hatches and raises the ducklings. they almost always ars free ranging through yard and orchard and eat a lot of grass, weeds, insects, etc. we feed regular chicken feed, sometimes cull garden grrens and overripe bananas (from our farm). they have a couple of small tubs that they can bathe in and drink out of, since we have no natiral water features. they are super cute and amusing ducks as well as useful.

the ducklings are slaughtered at around three months old--younger and there is almost no breast meat, older and their growth slows dramatically. males typically dress out at around 5 pounds or a little more, females at around 3 and a half if i recall--its been a while since i weighed any.

they are absolutely delicious. meat is dark, almost a red meat, and the fat is golden and succulent. but they are kind of a hassle to pluck and clean.

we kill by decapitation. i do not recommend any of the standard poultry methods: the "kosher method" will not kill a musvovy humanely at all (learned from others mistakes, not my own) and cervical dislocation would be extremely difficult as their necks are so muscular. we hold them by the wings usually, loop a small noose around the neck and then stretch slightly over a chopping block and give a good hard swing with a very sharp machete. we then promptly grasp the neck and direct the flow of blood from the arteries into a container, to save for recipes. they are penned up and "starved" overnight before slaughter to avoid getting wet, runny duck poop all over the carcass--i do not recommend overlooking this step, tho you might get away with it in a pinch!

to pluck, they can be dunked in scalding water like a chicken but you have to work at it a bit more. it is almost impossible to pluck every last downy feather, so we singe the smallest ones off with a propane weed torch.

adult muscovies can fly, but ducklings cannot until around slaughter age. however, in my ecperience, they resent being penned anyway. i wouldnt really recommend them unless you have the room to free range, because they would eat a lot more otherwise and quickly foul a small pen without good management. they seem ideal for meat production for the homestead with lots of room, as they can be largely self-reliant in that kind of situation. they are pretty mellow and quiet, but good foragers and can be great mothers. they have a delightfully quirky and intelligent personality. they naturally grow as quickly as freedom ranger type chickens but are much tastier.

we will probably be phasing ours out soon though, because they keep getting into the gardens recently and becoming a nuisance.

ours were not any special variety, just some mixed black and white ones we got locally for free. i dont think sourcing particular breeds of muscovy is particularly useful--they have not been selectively breed as intensively as other poultry or waterfowl anyway, and that is one of their advantages. for most homestead type situations i would simply recommend the hardy local landrace stock for utility purposes.

 

Thanks so much @triplepurpose 


I am planning on getting some Muscovy for meat in the Spring and have been looking for such info. 

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maeschak View Post

Thanks so much @triplepurpose 


I am planning on getting some Muscovy for meat in the Spring and have been looking for such info. 

I found it surprisingly hard to find a lot of practical info on the subject, myself. but they are raised all over the world... perhaps you will have better luck than i in your research!

one other tip i thought of: if you are able to locate a ducks nest site (which if they have access to a large area and you cant frequently observe their movements, may not happen) you can control the number of eggs set by her by carefully checking the nest regularly and removing eggs beyond the number you want her to hatch--i use a graphite pencil (no pens on eggs!) to mark the eggs to keep track of which ones are the freshest. be warned that ours at least will often lay two or three extra eggs even after they have started setting. the key is to not let the duck see us doing any of this, or she will get upset and may even relocate--but as long as we are discrete and leave at least a couple of eggs in the nest at all times and try to leave it like we found it, she is happy--most birds seem to lack the ability to accurately count.

this has proved to be a lifesaver because it allows us to opt to raise only a few ducklings at a time, instead of as many as two dozen.

breeding muscovies are so prolific in the right circumstances that many people get overwhelmed--thats why we got ours for free. smile.png a single pair is probably plenty for most people... and also may eliminate some squabbling. they will bond tightly to each other and give you ducklings for many years...

also, be warned that "teenage" muscovies (from flight feather stage at ~3 months old to breeding age at ~6 or 7) go thru a wanderlust stage where they often disappear for days. our drakeling left for a full week once before coming back to stay, and we lost one young duck permanently. once they are mature, they generally stick to a very modest area. very strange, but just how they are...

good luck! they are cool birds!
Edited by triplepurpose - 1/8/17 at 12:51pm
Chickens are the Swiss Army knife of farm animals
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Chickens are the Swiss Army knife of farm animals
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