Duck Responsibilities (aka Slaughtering Our First Duck)

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by dangerouschicken, May 18, 2008.

  1. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    My favorite duck is dead. He didn't have a name (his destiny was to be eaten), but he was still my favorite. He always made eye contact with me in a very intense way. I would sit outside the duck pen and chicken run, watching behaviors and learning about our animals. This duck would whisper at me, and I would whisper back. His bill was very orange, and he was the biggest duck of our three, sort of the leader. Overall, he was an interesting guy.

    Today was the first time either my husband or I had to slaughter a duck. We weren't sure which method to use, as the internet and our homesteading books gave us varying information. Some said to just use an axe, and others said to use a sharp knife to the throat. We were most concerned about humane slaughter, as to not cause the animal to suffer. My husband is an axe novice, but is very strong. We figured we'd use the knife method, draining the bird over a bucket in the process.

    It was difficult. First we had to net the duck, which took some time, even though they are slow. Duck pens are dirty places, and we didn't want to land face down in pursuit of a duck. When my husband caught my favorite duck, I said, "This is good. If we do him, then the others won't be so bad." I underestimated the whole experience. The duck was calm, and he didn't make a sound. His head was so soft, so fluffy, it was unreal. I couldn't remember the last time I had touched a full-grown White Pekin duck, and it surprised me just how delicate the feathers were. He tried to move his wings a little, and I soothed him saying, "It's okay. This is your destiny. It's okay." At that point, my husband slit his throat. The duck struggled some, his tongue stuck out a little, and I felt like crying. My husband's hands were shaking as he tried to cut in further, and we were both just so moved by it all. Maybe it was the uncontrollable responses from the duck's body, his jerking a bit, his wings twitching. My husband brought an axe over to sever the head. We then hung up my favorite duck, to bleed out and pluck.

    When people ask me, "Why raise your own meat?" I always have an answer. "It's better to know where your food comes from" or "It's healthy" or "I'd be a hypocrite if I'd eat meat, but not take responsibility for its life and death." These are good answers I still stand by. The duck experience was not all horrible, though it was more emotional than butchering a chicken. My husband and I are still learning how to do these things, and there will be times when it doesn't go as easily as others may say it should. We recognize that we have been city people for a good part of our lives, and that our country life now is still somewhat new. Where we see ourselves as weak or squeamish, we also know that we are many steps ahead of others that would never dream of living like we do. People have been slaughtering ducks long before us, and will long after us. All over the world, it is normal, everyday life. It's true enough, that we surely did feel the responsibility this duck's life and death. And we surely will eat this duck, too. The meat looks beautiful. I raised a fine bird.
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  2. NoSpringChick

    NoSpringChick Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    SE PA
    I'm touched; thanks for posting.
  3. cantley2003

    cantley2003 In the Brooder

    Mar 19, 2008
    Sanford, fl
    I just wanted to let you know that your experience touched me, it was a beautiful story. It sounds as if you have a wonderful respect for your animals lives.
  4. jaku

    jaku Songster

    Great post.
  5. morelcabin

    morelcabin Songster

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    Wonderful post. I remember my first experience, and I didn't enjoy it either. Actually I don't enjoy any of those experiences, but at the same time you are so right about raising our own animals and respecting them both in life and death, and that is the beauty of being a a real farmer.
  6. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    It is still sticking with me as the night goes on. I keep thinking how it felt to hold that ducks fluffy head in my hand... and he was so calm about it all. I don't know how I feel about butchering the other two. I just don't think I can do it. Keep thinking that maybe we will take them to a local butcher who also processes, but then wonder about how they will do it. Isn't it better that I butcher them, and see the whole thing through? I really don't know anymore.

    Thanks for reading, folks.
  7. luvmychicknkids

    luvmychicknkids Canning Squirrel

    Mar 6, 2008
    Floresville, Texas
    :aww I wish that I could be strong enough to raise my own meat. We have tried to be vegetarians but with my hubby and kids it isn't possible. I get tired of hating myself for every bite of meat, wondering about its life are doing the right thing. If only we could all be so strong.
  8. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    I don't feel strong. I feel pretty weird about it all... not really upset, just sort of melancholy. Not sure I could go through it again, even with respect to the cycle of life. Chickens, yes. Ducks, no.

    No no no.
  9. raindrop

    raindrop Songster

    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    Thanks for this post. I am raising ducks and chicks right now, the ducks are different somehow, you are right.
  10. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    This morning I woke up, and everything was right again. It felt sort of dreamlike, the whole ordeal, but someone reminded me that killing animals should be a hard thing to do. It put things into perspective for me. I am thinking of buying a device used a lot in Europe for slaughter. You put their neck in, and pull down a lever, and it breaks the bird's neck. That's why you always see ducks and geese with the heads still attached in Europe. Also, you can put their neck under a broom handle, have one person stand on the broom handle while you pull the bird upward, breaking the neck. Either way may be more preferrable and "humane" to our family. We'll see how it goes when we hit the 12 week mark to do the other 2.

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