Our Plan For Improving Muscling in Our Anconas

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by AuroraSprings, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. AuroraSprings

    AuroraSprings Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    Hello! Several people have asked what our plans are for increasing the muscling on our Anconas. While I will never expect them to perform like Rouens or Pekins, we expect the males to grow to market size in roughly 12 weeks and have enough meat to feed 2 people. While the ones that we processed before were okay in size and muscling at 12 weeks, we felt they were lacking in breast meat. The leg/wing meat was so small that we just took it off, but I don't feel that anyone in the market is looking for "duck hot wings" now or in the near future, [​IMG]. So we aren't focusing on that.

    At the same time, our females are already laying 260-280 eggs a year (mixed flock of yearlings and 2nd year girls, only one older female) in a variety of colors and they are XL-Jumbo most of the time. We don't want to lose this feature. I've done some research on breeding heritage breeds and combined that with my Animal Science degree, all of which is helped by the many years I've spent raising show quality pygmy goats.With all of this, we've come up with a tentative plan (it could change) to increase muscling while maintaining all possible colors and egg-laying ability.

    We aren't master poultry breeders, so any advice from more experienced breeders is greatly appreciated.

    Two separate pens for 2012 breeding season:

    One for Blacks/Chocolates only

    One for Blue, Lavender, Silver, and Tricolored
    - This ensures we don't "breed out" the dilutes

    Trapnest the females if we can ever figure out a system that will work on a limited budget/limited housing.
    - This helps evaluate each female's abilities.

    Keep a 1:3-4 ratio of males to females.
    -Keeps fertility high without allowing "inferior" males to stick around

    To push for specific meat qualities, we thought like beef farmers. They have EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences) that calculate in birth weight, weaning weight, # of calves/cow, feed efficiency,and all kinds of good things. While we can't get there with ducks (YET!), we can use some of that logic. Structural features are easily measurable and very heritable. (Thank you Animal Breeding class!)Whereas, things like feed efficiency, fertility, livability, friendliness are less measurable and only slightly heritable. This tells us that changing the animal's frame size or width is a lot easier than changing how well they forage (for example). So we knew we needed to start with a prolific, self-sustainable, forage-efficient group and slowly work towards "market qualities". We found this article on the ALBC website about breeding heritage chickens : http://albc-usa.org/documents/ALBCchicken_assessment-3.pdf

    For the most part, we are going to follow this guide. We aren't going to be an entirely closed flock (nothing in or out), so this plan will need tweaking. We still need to sell hatching eggs and youngsters to sustain ourselves, but this is the general approach.
  2. acipolone

    acipolone Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 5, 2010
    Hammond, LA
    Hello there! Just wondering how this has been coming along and if you'd had some success. We just started selling our ducks for meat and also noticed a lack of muscling in the breast. We had a male that had been pastured most of the time (feed only once/day) that we processed that had very little breast. Another male that was penned and fed twice daily had slightly larger breast. We hate the idea of "finishing", but I think we have no choice unless we can figure a way to improve it through breeding.

    Just wondering if you had any luck with your method!
  3. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    It sounds like a fun project.

    Just a couple of things, in general. All ducks forage well, so, unless you start to see problems, it is a bit of a non-issue.

    "Friendliness" is probably trained, but calm nature is inherited. Calm ducks are easier to train to be friendly.

    You can select your breeding stock based upon breast size and very slowly build that up, generation after generation.

    I'd be a little cautious about "finish" when raising ducks for the table. They put on fat really easily and what you want is meat, not more fat. Extra calories do not go into meat, they form into fat. I love duck fries, but there is plenty of fat for duck fries coming from a duck with a regular diet. Feeding extra corn to finish a duck could possible put on enough fat to damage the health of the duck.

    My opinion: the tendency to weak legs and angel wing is inherited. Perhaps weak tendons are involved. Bad diet can be the final straw that makes it manifest, but there was something "off" to begin with. So I cull very diligently for any weakness in wings or legs.

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