Meat ducks/chickens

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FortCluck

Hatch-a-Long Queen
Sep 9, 2019
21,408
93,449
1,317
Central Virginia
Right now we have 3 ducklings (hoping we have a male and females) and 10 chickens (2 roosters and 8 hens. Roosters don't fight they're brothers and hang out together). We are looking to incubate eggs, keep the ducks/chickens we want then process the rest of them.

Supposedly there aren't any chicken/duck processors in the area because it costs too much (what everyone has told me when I ask). So I guess we have to learn to process them ourselves.

What equipment would we need?

When do you process chickens/ducks?

What feed do they need?

What's the best time of year to raise them?

Any tips that you could offer would help or articles you can direct us to.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
3,052
4,943
391
North-Central IL
What equipment would we need?
A very sharp knife and an area to work are all you really need. But, you will probably want more than that. Either a place to hang killing cones, or a place to tie a rope to hang them from their legs. A turkey fryer makes a good scalder. A digital thermometer is pretty handy. I really like the plastic tables with the built in sink where you just attach a garden hose. You can buy a drum plucker, but they're about $400.

When do you process chickens/ducks?
Depends. What kind of chickens? If you get Cornish X broilers, 8 weeks is standard, up to around 12 weeks. After that, you're really risking casualties. If you're breeding layer type and/or dual purpose chickens, you really can do them any time. Usually 12 weeks is the youngest people do, as they're small. Up to 20 weeks they're still rather tender, though you do need to slow cook. After that, you're getting into stewing 'hens' and you'll want to think about pressure cooking or really low temperature, moist braising.
Ducks have very, very specific butcher ages because of the way the feathers grow in. I believe it's something like 8 weeks, and then 18 weeks? Metzer Farms' website has a duck butchering age table, I'm pretty sure.

What feed do they need?
Whatever you want to feed, honestly. There are tons of opinions. I feed all of my birds a 21% protein 'meatbird crumble' that's available locally. I'm breeding dual purpose heritage birds. Basically, you can feed your birds just about anything but Layer, until they're laying age. Starter/Grower/Broiler etc are all fine.

What's the best time of year to raise them?
Depends on your climate. Very early in the spring usually works well. When you know how long you're planning to grow them, setting up to butcher in the fall can be good too. You don't want the birds trying to grow when it's super hot outside, if they're too warm they won't eat enough to grow as well as they could.
 
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