I have 3 white pekin I bought as day old ducklings about 3 weeks ago. They are growing so fast it is unbelievable! At this rate, I think they'll be ready to butcher at 7 weeks old. Can't come too soon, though. They are so messy it turns my stomach when it's time to clean the brooder
In all of my reading and searching and looking I have seen more than once, more than thrice, that the silver appleyards are one of the most excellent ducks for a table bird with fully mature males weighing in at about 9lbs predressed weight. This is a rare breed duck as it isn't widely available any longer. Hatcheries do not even carry it. It has to come from a breeder or a small flock owner.
With this information in hand I contacted Dave Holderread and had a short chat. I will be getting appleyards (as long as hatch season holds out and he can fill orders) late this month or early week of May. This year won't be a harvest of duck other the odd males. I plan to raise s few breeding pairs/trios to hold over winter for next springs hatching season.
Some people do recommend the muscovy as a good table bird and I had one male last year that was nearly 10lbs at about 4 months. My problem with the muscovy is they are a mule duck and can't cross breed. My female sold to me as pure muscovy really wasn't as she laid black colored eggs. So I sent the pair to live somewhere else.
I had agreed with my husband to no more ducks until he built me a small pond but since I hatched the geese it was HIM that kept dropping hints about getting more ducks. So when he said he would like a few ducks I jumped in feet first (again!) and did alot of reading and talking to other people. I made my desicion based on my needs, preferences and the fact that the appleyards are endangered.
I have Appleyards and they are very large ducks. It was rather commical at the fair last year as mine were in a pen next to Mallards. The Appleyards were easily 2x larger if not 3.
Now commercially, almost all ducks raised for meat are Pekins or Pekin hybrids. They're slaughtered at somewhere around 8 weeks as well (there's a very specific timing to doing ducks to minimize the pin feathers). Muscovies are also raised. Their meat is darker and breast slightly longer/wider.
As far as taste, I can't tell the difference. I've had very expensive Muscovy duck breast (served tastily medium rare) at a fine restaurant. It tasted no different from my Appleyards.