Question on Ducks and Male Hatchlings/Population Control

BornToBake

Chirping
9 Years
Feb 23, 2011
7
0
60
Hi BYC Folks!

I'm a long time lurker and decided to delurk with questions re ducks I'd like to keep in our yard. Hubby said I'd be crazy to get a mail and female duck for the home (as a meat source to reduce our food costs), as I wouldn't be able to keep up with the reproduction. I have a family of three and we eat. It's a religious experience for us and we make a big deal of preparing and eating our meals (not even kidding, lol). Does anyone here agree with hubby's assertion that we wouldn't be able to consume all of the ducks we hatch and grow to maturity?

I assumed that I could separate the males from the females whenever things seem as if they're getting out of control. Our yardspace is very large and while we haven't yet made the leap, we plan to build our coops and acquire chickens for eggs and meat as well as (and especially), ducks.

Is there anyone else here raising their ducks/chickens for a meat source? And if so, how do you deal with male hatchlings? How do you deal with population? How many fertilized eggs should we expect in a month? (I believe I read one per day from a "good" bird, but I'd like to make sure.

I'd appreciate any help you all can offer. I'm very new to this and while my farmer dad could help, I'd prefer to get as much information as I can on my own before involving him. Please help, BYC Forum!
 

justmeandtheflock

Overrun with ducklings :)
10 Years
May 27, 2009
3,194
8
189
NW NJ
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Population control is easy, just don't hatch anymore eggs than you want to raise. Just because a duck lays a fertile egg doesn't mean you have to hatch it. I hear duck eggs are awesome for baking. I am pretty sure that you won't save any money raising your own poultry for the table. There are many threads in the meat birds section on the topic. I don't let the money stop me though. I don't eat duck but my extra roos are so much tastier than the store bought birds. Good luck!
 

BornToBake

Chirping
9 Years
Feb 23, 2011
7
0
60
Quote:
Thanks Justme,

I checked the following forum thread: (BYC isn't allowing me to link to its threads) but most replies and opinions seem to be in regard to the cost of the coop itself and from users who use their flock for eggs. Only one person there mentioned actually using hers for meat, as well as eggs. If the coops is already acquired at no fee, and if we plan to use them as a meat source (especially the ducks) and an egg source (both the ducks and the chickens), does this mean that it will be more than what it would cost in the store to purchase a duck or chicken?

For the record, ducks typically cost twenty dollars per bird at the market where I live; chickens are a WHOLE OTHER issue. I cannot believe how expensive they are here. Running at about 15-17 dollars per kilogram (2.2 pounds). We figured keeping our own chickens and ducks would be more cost effective. I know there's the cost for incubators, etc, but I guess I'm more concerned with the cost as far as feed. How many fertilized eggs should one expect per day if a male and female bird (at least) are kept?

Thanks for helping
 

mommyofthreewithchicks

Songster
10 Years
Jun 25, 2010
742
3
169
Minnesota
Eggs per day are going to depend on the breed of duck. I am getting between 4-7 duck eggs each day for the last 2-3 weeks. Have yet to figure out who all is laying but I believe I have 12-14 girls. As far as hatching out ducklings, that too depends on the breed- Are you wanting your duck to hatch them or are you going to incubate them yourself. I have found with the incubator there is a learning curve and the first batch didn't hatch... My second batch has had a few hatch and this batch that is in the incubator now looks really promising as well. As far as eating the eggs- I think they are good and I am LOVING them in baked goods.

Eating the duck... Or your own chicken. This has been a big deal in my house as that was the plan from the get go. Then I gave some of the roosters names (knowing they were too be eaten) and I am the one to go out to the barn each and every day if not 3-4 times a day, I sit out there just watching the birds. Butchering was HARD.... My dad came over for the life lesson and we only butchered 2 roosters (notice I have yet to get to the ducks)... We did eat them they tasted good but I only ate a bite as I remembered which bird we were eating. I am hoping that this part gets easier with time.... Dad will not help with the butchering of ducks so I know I am on my own thus it hasn't happened. And I have about 12 males that really DO have to go.

As far as $/bird I am pretty sure I am taking a loss... I will have to sell a lot of eggs to recoop my cost for the birds but I am having fun, I know that they are leading good lives. If I ever do figure out how to eat my ducks/chickens they will taste of my hard work, my heart as they have been loved and cared for, they are not in cages and they do have access to outside. I feel like I have given my kids a life lesson with the birds and I myself have learned a TON with the adventure of the birds. Now I just need to learn to make my flock a bit smaller
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and life will be in balance!
 

KansasKid

Songster
9 Years
Feb 7, 2010
1,819
13
151
South East Kansas
except for the price of shells, what kind of waterfowl hunting do you have around there?
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it would be less heart breaking that way. lol. I think that if you want to plan ahead that far it would be wise to figure how many juvenile size birds (culling them when they got to proper size) your set up can house. Then collect X amount of eggs plus some to account for ones that don't hatch.


First time around will be the learning experience, depending on your set up you can clean out and sell the "duck fertilizer" and or use it on your garden which you can also grow plants that are edible to the ducks, sell there eggs and chicken eggs, then depending on how many you raise you can go ahead and sell the duck meat to help balance your expenses being sure to keep track of feed and anything else poultry/duck related then at the end of the year calculate and see if you come out ahead or not.

As far as my experience, i seem to always come out short. Course i spoil my ducks and have them for eggs and enjoyment.
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mommyofthreewithchicks: how do you plan on cleaning your ducks? are you going to take the full body or just breast them out?
 
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mommyofthreewithchicks

Songster
10 Years
Jun 25, 2010
742
3
169
Minnesota
Quote:
I think that my Sis-in-law who was finding me a recipe was thinking roasted duck. I also found one for just the breast... Ideal way to go would be to use as much as possible for eating.

I was avoiding the cleaning issue:sick can you tell.... I keep hoping that Dad will decide that he can in fact help me with these birds but he is holding firm. Is duck cleaning harder than cleaning chickens (that is what I have been led to believe)? I keep reading up on butchering and then "chickening" out
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Hopefully when it warms up I will quit chickening out of this part of the job!
 

KansasKid

Songster
9 Years
Feb 7, 2010
1,819
13
151
South East Kansas
Well i kind of cheat and take the easy route and clean them just i like i do the wild birds, i just grab a fist full of feathers on there breast while there laying on a flat surface, pull to expose the skin, then take a sharp knife and make a slit in the skin (not to deep though) then using my fingers i just pull the skin apart and off the meat till i have the full breast exposed then taking my knife i just cut down the right (then left) side of the keel and just follow the breast meat from top to bottom and take those 4 chunks out (there is like a big piece on both sides of the keel then a thin piece thats slim underneath) and cut them in strips and soak them in salt water (regardless if they are wildgame or domestic) for a few days. then i swap the water for a marinade for a day, then get the grill going wrap the thin strips around a water chestnut, toothpick it, bacon, toothpick and grill. yum.

as far as the whole bird...uhh theres got to be a cleaner way but i do that just like i would a pheasant/chicken and cut the head/wings/feet off then pull the skin off exposing the body, then from the vent i cut up along its back bone on both sides (don't cut too deep or it won't work) then just lift the back bone out and most of the internal organs will come with it, then rinse and soak.


Just how i do things, theres obviously a better way of getting the breast meat out but as many times as i've done it, i can get all the meat off the bone without leaving a bunch and it makes it easier in the long run. Maybe someone else has a better way....
 

BornToBake

Chirping
9 Years
Feb 23, 2011
7
0
60
Quote:
Thank you for this informative post! You answered many of my questions, too. I went to the market again yesterday to check and I actually gave the incorrect price earlier. It's actually 21-22 dollars per kg, not 17, and that's just for chicken. Ducks here are even more expensive. Christmas time had them priced at 30 and up. :eek:(

I believe I'd like for the ducks to hatch their eggs themselves, instead of using an incubator. Is this wise? I was thinking maybe I could use a special coop just devoted to ducks/eggs for hatching, and another devoted to eggs for cooking and baking (we have a lot of space). Is this a wise idea, or is an incubator better?
 
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Dances with Ducks

Songster
11 Years
Sep 28, 2008
1,668
30
161
Central Northern Front Range, Colorado ;)
If you want to have ducks for meat and for brooding their own no other duck comes anywhere as close to meeting these goals as the muscovy. If you have lots of room you could also have a flock of highly productive egg layers like the Khaki Campbell, Welsh Harlequin, or one of the newly developed layer breeds like the Golden Cascade, Golden 300, or White Layer. Keep in mind when choosing your ducks that the whiter colored the duck feathers are, the easier it is to pluck. The layer ducks have a different flavor and texture than the muscovy, but all are good for eating. Ducks are great at foraging so if you can allow them to free range it will cut your feed bills. Keeping a separate coop for brooding sounds like it could be a good idea. You may want to start a thread on managing broody ducks in a flock because there's a lot to consider, but well worth it.
edited for clarity
 
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mommyofthreewithchicks

Songster
10 Years
Jun 25, 2010
742
3
169
Minnesota
Quote:
Thank you for this informative post! You answered many of my questions, too. I went to the market again yesterday to check and I actually gave the incorrect price earlier. It's actually 21-22 dollars per kg, not 17, and that's just for chicken. Ducks here are even more expensive. Christmas time had them priced at 30 and up. :eek:(

I believe I'd like for the ducks to hatch their eggs themselves, instead of using an incubator. Is this wise? I was thinking maybe I could use a special coop just devoted to ducks/eggs for hatching, and another devoted to eggs for cooking and baking (we have a lot of space). Is this a wise idea, or is an incubator better?

Ideally I want to let a duck hatch a brood this summer- This is my first year with the ducks and chickens so I am learning as I go... My DH gave me an incubator for our Ann and I have been doing test runs with the chicken eggs. I think (and anyone jump in if I am wrong) that you can have the ducks who will be sitting on the eggs in the same coop as the others but I would plan on marking her eggs just so you know which ones are hers. Again I could be wrong so I hope that someone with a bit more experience with this helps out. I plan on letting one of the ducks hatch her own and (hopefully just one) a chicken. Helps that my Dad is really hoping for this as well. (He LOVES coming over here to help and hear the stories of me and my animals). I promised the kids we would hatch out at least one batch of ducks this year. Good luck!!! And I am glad that my research and experience over the last year has helped
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As it has been an experience...

I have Mallards and I have been told they will be good at setting on their own eggs, WH and they will be ok at sitting, and Jumbo Pekings (I am crossing my fingers)... Which don't have a great track record for sitting but lay really big eggs! I also have Rouen but I have not done a lot of research on them (these three just fell into my lap). I was considering the Golden 300 or Cascade but in the end chose the breeds I did because- DH really wanted Mallards, Eggs/Meat and for looks. Good luck choosing!
 

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