Considering keeping ducks for eggs and meat ... some questions?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by TheGoatGirl, May 30, 2012.

  1. TheGoatGirl

    TheGoatGirl Hatching

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    Hi all,

    I've been thinking over the past few weeks about maybe trialling some ducks ... I have a bit of a pipe dream of producing as much of our own food as possible at home, particularly meat, and was thinking about experimenting by keeping ducks either in addition to, or instead of, chickens. Mainly looking for some variation in meat (not only having chicken) and also my other half loves big eggs :)


    So that probably leads to question #1. Do I keep a dual-purpose breed of duck? Or am I better getting some specialised egg layers, and some specialised meat birds? I know coming from the world of cattle that the so called 'dual purpose' cattle breeds really dont do a great job at either meat or milk, just an average job at both. But then again I know with my goats that the Nubians (certain bloodlines anyway) can be great for both milk and meat. But I dont know about poultry.

    Question #2 is regarding breed ... although might be negated by the answer above if you think I'm better off keeping separate breeds. Basically by looking through info on the breeds I kinda came down to two I thought might be good - the Khaki Campbells and the Buff Orpingtons. From what I read, both are good egg layers, with good temperament, I find them pleasing to the eye, and they can be easily sourced in my area. Now I have read that the Buff Orpington can be kept as a dual purpose meat and egg animal, but I havent been able to find anything about eating the Khaki Campbells. Is it just a waste of time to keep a Khaki Campbell for meat? I work with Peking Ducks everyday

    Question #3 ... is regarding diet. I like to keep a general livestock grain mix on hand that everyone can eat, rather than commercial bagged feed that is species specific. Mainly so that I know, if someone accidentally eats the wrong feed it isnt going to give them an upset stomach. So my question is whether you can feed ducks (and incidentally chickens) on a grain mix?

    Thanks in advance for all the help :)
     
  2. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

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    Khaki are rather light weight but can be eaten, just know they won't be a big dressed bird.

    Silver Appleyards are a larger bird and lay very well for their size.

    We actually keep three breeds, two meat (silver Appleyard and Muscovy) and egg layers (khaki)

    I suppose you can raise everyone on one feed, ducks require higher niacin content than chickens do, so this would be a concern as ducklings. We feed our waterfowl Mazuri feed, but many feed an all flock product to their birds.
     
  3. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

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    There are 2 ways to do it and either way works very well. It depends upon your choice and how many pens you want to maintain to keep breeds separated.

    Appleyards are the best dual purpose birds. They are large and big enough to butcher at 10 weeks. They lay lots of big eggs.

    Pekins are ready to butcher at 8 weeks and some lines lay lots of eggs , if you are careful about what you buy to start with. Pekins will pack on the fat, so you need to be careful about how they are fed.

    Or you can get an egg laying specialist and also a meat producing specialist.

    Khaki Campbell, Welsh harlequin, or Runners for eggs. And Pekin, Appleyard, or Muscovy for meat.

    Ducks need protein and calcium to produce eggs, so it depends upon a lot of issues as to whether or not your general feed will be enough.
     
  4. DuckLover3

    DuckLover3 Chirping

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    Are geese an option instead of ducks? Just wondering because geese lay big eggs, they provide quite a bit of meat, and some are good layers. Plus, they lay on average about 8 years, instead of 4 years like ducks do. Just one thing, though, I'm not actually speaking from experience, but from what I've read, so you might check with others who have geese; if that's something even worth considering for you.
     
  5. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

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    Geese are seasonal layers and only lay every other to every three days on average. So you would only get eggs in the spring.
     
  6. billw

    billw Chirping

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    We started with two breeds - Swedish and hybrid layers, figuring to use the Swedish as dual-purpose birds and round out egg production with the hybrids.

    This is the first year, so I don't know how production will change over time, but our Swedish are laying just as many eggs as the hybrids. We have nine ducks and get 8-9 eggs per day.

    Butchering is a fair bit of work. It is not very rewarding with a small duck. If I had it to do over again, I'd stick with the Swedish and drop the hybrids, which are smaller.

    If I were to try a new breed, I'd go with something larger than Swedish, just because it is more meat for the same amount of work at butchering time.

    But, the Swedish seem to be a very good dual purpose bird. They produce a nice carcass at ten weeks and they lay well. There is no question that Pekins have them beat for size though.
     
  7. TheGoatGirl

    TheGoatGirl Hatching

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    Thanks for the replies everyone!

    Funny that you mention Appleyards ... I used to have some but the Bantam variety, I really liked them but they were 100% pets and I hadnt thought of them since I am looking for productive birds this time round. I know there are heaps of them (the large type) around this area.

    I hadnt considered geese because of the seasonality but I had briefly wondered about Muscovies ... given that they are a big bird, but am I correct in thinking that they dont lay particularly well? I know they make great incubators though.

    I noticed a breeder yesterday is offering khaki/pekin crosses ... I wonder if they would retain the egg laying abilities of the khaki but be a little heavier for eating?

    I may just get a mix of Appleyards, Khakis and Pekins (or maybe some crosses) and see which breed is going to suit us best and fit in with us. I'd like to stay away from the Runners as all the ones I've met seem a little nervous and flighty. Other breeds mentioned are not available in my area.

    Regarding the diet, I'm hoping to supplement the grain diet with a) surplus vegetables from my garden (finely chopped once or twice a week so they get their greens), b) scrap meat and boiled eggs (probably once a week) and c) surplus milk from my dairy goats (could be daily or twice daily). Do ducks like milk? I am going to have oodles of milk once the girls kid down this year. I know chickens love milk and do really well on it. Also I remember crumbling up the egg shells, baking them in the oven and feeding them back to the chickens for calcium when I was a child ... can you do the same with ducks?

    On another note I looked at a really lovely property for rent today. Has an amazing chook run - the chook house is an elevated childrens cubby house - so cute. It also has a beautiful pond in one of the smaller paddocks near the house - I'm thinking chicken wire added to the existing horse fence would make a happy daytime area for duckies :)
     
  8. TheGoatGirl

    TheGoatGirl Hatching

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    Just thought I would update ... I'm picking my ducks up tomorrow :D I am ending up with pekins because I found a group for sale - 2 drakes and 3 ducks - two of the ducks are point of lay and the other is 1.5 yrs old. So we will see how we go. I'm thinking I may just get a few chickens to supplement the duck eggs if we find we arent getting enough.
     

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