Older Ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Ariel301, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    I might be getting several free ducks tomorrow. The lady who has them says they are 4-7 years old. I have not had ducks before, so I'm wondering if that's really old for them? Would it be likely they still are laying at that age, or are they like chickens where after a couple of years they don't lay so well anymore? I'll likely take them no matter what, just wondering whether ducks that old will be useful to keep around (for eggs/raising more ducks to eat) or if they'll be going straight in the freezer.
     
  2. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 5, 2010
    Southern California
    They can live 15, maybe even 20 years if you keep them healthy. I think they would be laying fine at 4 years but JUST starting to wind down (I'm no expert so take all this with a grain of salt lol).
     
  3. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 21, 2009
    In my opinion, at that age, they are really in their prime. Mine start to slow down as far as laying once they are 5-6 years old, but can still be quite prolific for a few years beyond that. They still continue to lay sporadically even when they are very old. As far as what very old is, it is really hard to say. I have quite a few ducks that I know for sure are at least 10-12 years old and we very likely have some that are even older, so they can live quite a long time.
     
  4. Red Maple Farms

    Red Maple Farms Wish Granted

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    Feb 25, 2010
    NE Wisconsin
    If you are concerned about economics, then you will find that many commerical duck egg farms really only keep their layers around for two laying cycles at most. Many hens are retired after their first year of laying because they slow down and eat more than they can produce. In that respect they are very much like chickens.


    From http://www.worldpoultry.net/background/peking-duck-breeders-require-special-management-6876.html


    Reproductive performance of Orvia CKM
    Peking duck breeder females through 42 weeks of
    lay

    Parameter Performance Result
    Age at first egg (wks) 23
    Age at peak of lay (wks) 32
    Avg. duration of lay (wks) 42
    Total no. of eggs/female 230
    Total no. of laid eggs/hen-housed female 220
    Total no. of settable eggs/hen-housed female 210
    Average egg weight (g) 86
    Average fertility (% candled at 12 days) 94-96
    Hatchability of fertile eggs (%) 85-87
    No. of ducklings per female housed 165-175
     
  5. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    Several of my ducks are 3 years old now, and are still excellent layers. In late spring, they are too good at what they do, I end up having to freeze a lot of eggs just to keep up with them!
     
  6. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    Hmm. Well, maybe we will give them a few weeks' trial and see how they are doing before eating them. I am a bit concerned about the ratio of feed to eggs, as we're on a tight budget. If we keep ducks it would be just to make more ducks so we have a meat supply, so obviously they need to be laying well enough to be "worth their feed". The lady said they were Pekin and Aylesbury (I'm not familiar with that breed) I would love to keep them just for pets, but we don't have extra money for more pets. I'm still waiting to hear back on if I am actually getting them or not. I hope they're still doing well, it will be fun to have some ducks. [​IMG]
     
  7. Bleenie

    Bleenie Wyan-DO's

    I recently adopted a Muscovy drake from a lady that had a Buff hen with him. The hen was 6yrs old and still laid nearly daily & was currently building up her nest to brood. [​IMG]
     
  8. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 21, 2009
    Feed conversion in a commercial setting verses a home setting is comparing apples to oranges, in my opinion. I am not sure what your long term goals are, but even one pair of ducks can supply a heck of a lot of meat/eggs. There is too much variability in production between birds and too many other various factors to really be able to say what is right for you. You are not a commercial farm where things like feed conversion can be averaged over several thousand birds. For example, a flock average for a hybrid layer duck may be 225 eggs/hen and yet you may end up with a bird that lays 50 or 300. Does that make sense? Also, a commercial farm is going to be processing birds that are several WEEKS old, not YEARS.

    What are your ultimate goals, meat or eggs? That will make a big difference right there as some of the lighter breeds are awesome layers, but not great meat ducks. If eggs are top consideration maybe a hybrid layer would be best. Do you want to sell a few offspring/hatching eggs? Then maybe something like Welsh Harlequins would be better. Do you like the taste of traditional duck or prefer something leaner? If so, maybe Muscovies or Scovie-hybrids would be good. There are just too many variables for us to tell you what is best for you if this is to be an ongoing project.

    I will say this though, generally meat ducks are processed when they are only several weeks old, not years. I have never liked the taste of duck, so I can't say what is best or how much difference it makes in meat quality (in chickens though, IMO, age makes a *huge* difference). My brother though is a large commercial meat wholesaler and their ducklings are processed at like 7 weeks old. Again, I can't say how edible ducks that age will be because I don't eat them, but you might ask others. If anything, you might use them as breeders or to produce future breeders. Good luck!
     
  9. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    Our goal with ducks would be to have a few that will lay eggs we can hatch (either under a duck or a chicken or in the incubator) and raise those ducklings for meat for ourselves and (if there's enough) some friends. We produce all our own meat (as well as eggs and dairy products) at home and it would be nice to add one more variety to the table. We would probably eat a few eggs too, but we don't want them specifically as egg providers; we have chickens for that. If there were excess ducklings, we would sell them, but that's not really a goal of ours.

    Processing older birds (even though it's not the idea age) is fine to me, we just slow cook them. I grew up eating wild duck, so I imagine it's not much different. It's what I've always done with chickens who have reached the point where they cost too much to feed for what they produce. We would do the same with ducks, it just doesn't make sense to feed old birds that are costing us more to maintain than the value of their production. So if we can get some ducklings from this group of ducks, raise those up to laying age and keep them as producing birds and process the old ones, that would be great. Since they're free, it's really no big deal to just eat them if they don't work out.

    I'm going to pick them up tomorrow night. And it sounds like a load of free chickens too. [​IMG]
     
  10. Red Maple Farms

    Red Maple Farms Wish Granted

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    Feb 25, 2010
    NE Wisconsin
    Quote:It is very much like raising chickens. Even the small home flocks of six to seven chickens around here are replaced every two years or so. Of course, people up here run light bulbs in the coops throughout the winter to maintain production. I think that if people actually quantified the laying performance of their older chickens/ducks, they would see that they are wasting money on nonproductive animals.

    We have 30 pekin layers, and are now replacing the flock on 40 week intervals. The retired hens are used for personal consumption. We tried getting two cycles out of the hens, but the down time and slower production when they resumed laying wasn't worth the cost of the feed for us.

    Year old duck doesn't taste too bad, and we love cooking with duck fat. The dog enjoys it too. In fact, some cultures prefer a more mature duck.
     

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