New to meat ducks - what do I need to know?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by TajMahalChickens, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. TajMahalChickens

    TajMahalChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am thinking about getting 30 meat ducks this summer instead of getting meat chickens, like I usually do.

    1) How are they going to compare to raising meat chickens like the cornish cross and JM hatchery's Freedom Rangers? What feeding/shelter/management will be different?
    2) I would like a bird that forages, but still reaches weight within 3 months. Basically, I am looking for the freedom ranger in duck form. Is there such a breed?
    3) If I do raise Pekins (which I hear are the cornish cross of ducks), will they still forage? I don't want a bird that sits around and gets leg problems.
    4) Is duck meat even good? How does it compare to chicken?
    5) What hatcheries would you recommend?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Lute

    Lute Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It depends entirely on the breed.

    Pekins are an excellent meat duck. It's what I'm breeding now. Muscovys are supposed to be very good as well.

    All ducks need lots of water, enough that they can dip their entire heads (they're happier this way) in it to clean themselves. I gave mine a kiddy pool from wally world.

    Pekins will reach 8 lbs within 8 weeks (supposedly). Dressed, they should come to 4-5 lbs. Best to slaughter at 7 weeks or 12 weeks to avoid the pin feathers. Though I didn't have much trouble with them when I slaughtered my 8 month old.

    If you have had duck meat before do NOT get ducks for meat. Go try it first. Buy a duck at the grocery store and try it that way. Better to discover you don't like something now before you sink a lot of time and energy into it later.
     
  3. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

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    Scovy, Pekin, and Silver Appleyards are all good meat ducks. We raise the SA and French white Scovy and have great feed conversion in them both.

    Ducks will need a good fresh water source as mentioned above. They do love to play in the water and need it when eatting as well. The White Scovy forage more then the SA do in general.
     
  4. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1) How are they going to compare to raising meat chickens like the cornish cross and JM hatchery's Freedom Rangers? What feeding/shelter/management will be different?
    Pekin will reach processing weight in 7 weeks. I think with pekin feed conversion about is 1 lb live weight for 2.5 lbs feed. So, they will eat more than cornish. You will need secure night time housing on a larger scale than cornish, more waterers and pools to keep them clean.

    2) I would like a bird that forages, but still reaches weight within 3 months. Basically, I am looking for the freedom ranger in duck form. Is there such a breed?
    see # 3
    3) If I do raise Pekins (which I hear are the cornish cross of ducks), will they still forage? I don't want a bird that sits around and gets leg problems.
    They should forage some but I would expect a lower feed conversion. I think that you are being a bit unrealistic in wanting something that reaches processing weight in 8 weeks but doesn't sit around. If you have raised cornish cross, you know how lazy they are and you know how much they eat. If they were as active as other chickens, they would not gain as much as quickly. Pekin will get fat if they sit around so activity is recommended.
    4) Is duck meat even good? How does it compare to chicken?
    Duck meat is nothing like chicken so do go try it first. I love duck meat.
    5) What hatcheries would you recommend?
    I don't have Pekin so I would search on BYC for hatchery pekin.

    Good luck with your ducky adventure. Oh by the way they are WAY messier than chickens, even cornish. And as I always do when people talk about meat ducks: Get Muscvoy, they are DELICIOUS! [​IMG]
     
  5. mixitup

    mixitup Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had Roeun ducks and loved them. I took them in for processing though. It seems the darker ducks are harder to pluck for some reason-at least thata was what I was told. You really can't compare duck meat to chicken meat. It's different. Commercial ducks, I find, are greasy. Mine weren't greasy at all-I actually had to cover mine in Bacon because the first one I did dried out a bit. I'm getting Muscovies this time around, so hoping to get some good meat again![​IMG]
    I used a combination of free range and supplemented with food. You definitely need some type of water dish where they can stick their whole head in to be able to clean their nostrils properly. Kiddie pools are good. We used plastic barrels from the fruit processing plant and cut the in half lengthwise. We also had a sprinkler on them in the summer months-which they loved. Good luck with your ducks!
     
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    I butcher Pekin at 8 weeks. They are 8-9 pounds live weight at that age and dress out just under 5 pounds.

    There are no health issues with pekins. They don't have leg problems. They live for years and reproduce just fine. They are good egg layers of huge eggs.

    Pekins are good foragers. They are lively and curious. Temperaments are calm. Feed conversion is good.

    You do not get nearly as much meat off of a 5 pound dressed ducks as you will get off of a 5 pound dressed Cornish Cross chicken.

    If you expect your ducks to get all their nutrition from foraging, I suspect it would take them longer to reach butcher weight. I feed mine a 20% protein feed.

    If you intend to raise ducks to eat, I suggest that you purchase purpose breed ducks. Metzer offers a specialty Pekin that is custom bred to be a table bird. You will get good size and good growth from Metzer's Grimauld Pekins
     
  7. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    I also raise Appleyards. They are butchering size at 10 weeks.

    I haven't butchered any Appleyards yet. I will do a few this year to see what they are like to eat.

    They are healthy, large, very calm ducks. They are good egg layers. They have no health issues. They forage just fine, although at a casual pace because they don't get worked up about anything.
     
  8. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    Swedish ducks provide a very fine table duck. Meat is fine grained, skin is thin. However, they are not a table breed. Ducks are smaller than Pekin and feed conversion isn't quite as good.

    My experience with hatchery Swedish was that temperaments were very poor and feed conversion was awful. If you decide on Swedish (which is not what I'd choose if i wanted to raise meat), start with good quality ducks.

    They are good layers and good lively foragers.
     
  9. TajMahalChickens

    TajMahalChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the responses!

    I am planning on providing a kiddy pool for swimming, but I was going to use chicken waterers as their main drinking water source.
    1) Can they use regular chicken waters?

    Ok, so what I hear is that Pekins have the best feed conversion but still will forage. That is my biggest worry, because i don't want to buy a bird that is as lazy as the cornish cross.
    2) Will Pekins make weight in 12 weeks if they forage?

    Sounds like Muscovies are they way to go as far as meat quality.
    3) Will I be sacrificing meat quality with a Pekin?

    Sounds like Muscovies are they way to go if I want a foraging bird with good meat. I would prefer to do Muscovies, but I am worried they won't make weight in the time that I have.
    4) Can Muscovies make still make weight it 12 weeks if they forage?


    I can't raise beyond twelve weeks, for that is the time between the end of school in the spring and the startup in fall, so I only have 12 weeks to raise during the summer.

    Thanks so much
     
  10. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicken waterers will get gross fast. Buckets are much easier in my opinion.
    Pekin should make weight with foraging.
    Muscovy is a bit different than regular duck meat but quality should be fine with home grown pekin.
    Muscovy take longer to make weight. They are great foragers but don't mature quickly. You could butcher at 12 weeks but they will be smaller especially if female.
     

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