Free Range Slowing Growth

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Oregon Blues, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    I thought this was interesting.

    My ducklings are now old enough to be out of their night pen and loose in the orchard. They are happily padding around and harvesting seeds off the top of the grasses, and (I hope) eating bugs. Their commercial feed consumption has gone down.

    When they are confined, I can see them grow. As soon as they were turned out, their growth nearly stopped.

    I had to be away from home 3 days in a row, so they stayed locked up. I can see a great deal of growth for those 3 days.

    In the past, I've had very good luck with the Cornish Cross chicks. Never any health or leg problems. I raised them free range. Looking at how these ducks are growing, the free range Cornish Cross must have slowed their growth enough to avoid the health issues common to the breed. It's certainly something to consider.

    I know that commercial Pekin ducks are raised in confinement, under lights, and free feed, all for fast growth.

    By the way, my ducklings look great and they are happy, so I don't care if it takes a couple more weeks to butchering time. The ones that I will be keeping, my personal opinion is that there are fewer problems with breeding stock if they aren't force fed for growth.
  2. RoosterGeek

    RoosterGeek Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2010
    Lebanon, TN
    Interesting post Oregon. I'm hoping to give my meat ducks free range and free choice feed. I'll probably get them (Pekins) from Townline as they seem to be the cheapest source. Perhaps, I'll keep track on some weights so that we can compare the various methods.

    Where do you source your Pekins?

    I have read somewhere, I think Metzer's blog, that the best times to process a duck is at 7 12 and 18 week intervals due to pin feathers. Has this been your experience? I hope to see results (weight wise) around 7 weeks so that they can be delivered.
  3. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    I've never had Pekins.

    I bought some hatchery Blue Swedish and we are going to eat those. They are with some show potential Silver Appleyards. Everybody is getting raised to maximize the potential of the Appleyards, not to maximize growth.

    Metzers is supposed to sell good Pekins. Also, if you watch for the Ideal specials, you can request a specific breed of duck for $2.40 each. Their shipping is cheap. That's how I got these Swedish ducks. They are along ways from show quality, but they were cheap and arrived very healthy and they are growing well.

    I've eaten commercially raised duck, where the ducks are confined and feed all they can eat. The meat was far too fatty. I think that if you are raising ducks for your own table that you get better flavored meat if the ducks wander around a bit, eat some bugs, and harvest some grass.

    Pekins are definitely the best choice for raising meat. I don't buy white birds because I have serious predator issues and white is waving a big flag. It can be seen from a far distance. If my blues don't move, you can't see them from 20 feet away. The only way I can find my geese in the orchard is I can see the big fat white butt on my Pomeranian. The Blue Americans simply disappear against the background.
  4. Bossroo

    Bossroo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2008
    Every predator such as coyote, fox, racoon, eagle, hawk, etc has far better eye sight than us mere humans. A whole lot better sence of smell too. They can spot the slightest movement or just an outline of a prey species from quite a distance away. White color is just slightly easier to spot. Just ask any prey species such as a wild rabbit, pheasant, quail, duck, goose ( plenty of wild white ones around), etc.
  5. LittleDarlings

    LittleDarlings Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2011
    Madison, GA
    I had never taken into account the color of the bird to make it more easily spotted by predators. I am literally learning something everyday on here!! Thank you guys so much for sharing!!
  6. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Every time I've had white birds mixed with other birds, I've lost them to predators. Gunieas, peafowl, chickens, whatever. White may as well be a sign painted on them that says " eat me!". I try to avoid white birds if at all possible, especially if they are going to free range.

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