Ideal Age for Processing?


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 5, 2013
Rockford, Michigan
So I'd like to get about a dozen ducks to raise strictly for meat. In reading some older posts, I've run into some comments in regards to slaughtering at 7 weeks old or 12 weeks old. This is for the reason of the small pin feathers. I guess I don't really see what's so special about 7 or 12 weeks?

If I use an EZ-Plucker and duck wax, do the 7 & 12 numbers still hold true?

This all seems to be getting pretty complicated. I'm just looking to end up with a 5 lb. or so dressed weight duck.
my pekin is right at 9 weeks and i would say he would go 5lbs dressed. dont have any info on the pin feathers but as far as growth, this pekin kept up with my cornish cross birds.
So the 7 and 12 weeks is regarding feather development. At 7 weeks the birds don't have belly feathers so they are easier to pluck. At 12 weeks the belly feathers are completely grown in so are easier to pluck. For a heavier bird such as a pekin I've heard that waiting longer than 7 weeks is a waste of feed on the bird so they tend to be butchered earlier. For lighter bodied ducks that need time to fill in their meat they wait til the 12 week mark. However you can butcher a duck at any time. After 12 weeks though the meat gets tougher and requires more cooking.
well it sounds like you new your answer then. my ducks are for eggs and enjoyment of watching. lol
Thank you all for your kind replies.

Ducks and Gardens, I definitely don't want tough birds, so the 12 weeks is out. The 7 week time range sounds like the optimum time frame I'm looking for.

If I'm reading what you said correctly, then at 7 weeks the pin feathers haven't developed yet, and hand plucking or the use of an EZ-Plucker can be employed WITHOUT the use of duck wax? So once the pin feathers start to form after 7 weeks, duck wax is going to have to be used in conjunction with whatever means of plucking is used?
That is correct. Although 12 week old birds aren't considered tough just as they get older than 12 weeks they become tougher. I think the cutoff is 15 weeks for the risk of tough birds. However I'm going off my great grandma's duck lore here. I don't process ducks I just keep them for eggs. She plucked her ducks and geese by hand and she didn't want to skin her birds and lose the fat so she would stick to 7 and 12 weeks which was her plucking preference.

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