PEKIN DUCKS SUMMARY Lots of lessons learned this spring/summer about raising Pekin Ducks. 1) Fifty square foot brooder is OK for the first week for 10 ducks. After that the mess of spilled water and poop is very difficult to keep up with. Eventually resorted to a modified deep litter method…adding a new layer of wood shavings every 2 days so keep the birds on mostly dry bedding. 2) Give them gravel grit early… day three. They aggressively eat lawn and weed clippings. Bring in a deep tray of dandelion, grass and clover every day. They eat all the garden salad greens not fit for our consumption. 3) Heat lamp can be quickly backed off and removed within a week. The indoor brooder temp was about 15°C. Ducks are much sturdier than chickens and don’t need coddling under lamps. 4) By necessity, because of brooder crowding, 5 birds were sent to live outdoors full time on free range at 18 days old. Late May, nice weather. They handled it fine. The rest went out 3 weeks plus 2 days. 5) A 20 x 100 foot “range” with grasses and clover is not enough space for 10 Pekins. By the end of their eight week (five weeks on range) about 1/3 of the outdoor range was either mud of heavily browsed and trampled grass. It will recover quickly. By comparison 25 Grazer (Freedom Ranger) chickens have lived in the same area in past years, without ruining any ground. 6) Water consumption is enormous. A pond or stream would be great, but I don’t have one. So I hauled in 80 Liters (20 gallons) of water every three days to keep their waterers full. 7) Catching them for slaughter is easy compared to chickens. The instinct seems to be to crowd a corner making it easy to grab a duck. 8) Pin feathers. I killed two birds at seven weeks. Plucked in a Featherman Pro. A significant layer of fine wispy feathers remained. They were really easy to remove by waxing. But at eight weeks, those feathers had evolved into thick based pin feathers. Wax would only remove about half. It’ll take about 20 minutes per bird to manually pull the pins with needle nose tip surgical style needle driver. Too much to do now. I'll do it each time I defrost one for roasting this winter. Seven weeks is definitely the time to kill them. 9) Final size was excellent. Average 6 pounds 6 ounces fully dressed. Range 5lb 8oz to 7lb 6oz. Will I do ducks again? Absolutely. I love roasted duck. Plus they have an attitude that makes them entertaining in ways that chickens are not. But I will only do five at time. And maybe stagger batches of birds by six weeks. As some are ready for freezer camp, the next batch would go to live outdoors on range. I realized that 10 Pekins was a bit too ambitious for the size of system and the time I have to deal with them. Yes there are three geese too. They will stay out till the fall to get as big as possible for Christmas and Thanksgiving.