Question on Ducks

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by protodon, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. protodon

    protodon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 3, 2009
    Nottingham,PA
    This spring was the first time I raised ducks for meat. I raised about 40, sold a bunch and probably ended up butchering 16. All the ones i butchered were Pekins. I butchered them at between 7 and 9 weeks old. I only did a few at 7, trying to avoid pin feathers but the ducks were kind've small so the majority I did were 8 weeks. The 8 and 9 weeks were quite a bit larger than the 7 week but the one 1 I did at 9 weeks had to be skinned because the pin feathers were just insane and too hard to pluck.

    Okay so I did all that and I have been eating one or 2 a month. I love duck and I love roasting them whole. I really don't like to skin because I feel that it's such a waste. All that good fat and crispy skin just gets thrown away. Well I watch plenty of cooking shows and I see these people cook duck breasts and they are huge. At least as big of some cornish x chicken breasts. My duck breasts have all just been little slivers. Maybe a 1/4" thick. I thought that's how they were supposed to be until I saw other pics of duck breasts or the ones on tv.

    So I am wondering, can you even get a lot of breast meat out of Pekins? LIke if I let them go to 12 weeks would there be a substantial amount of duck meat vs the ones I butcher at 8 weeks? Or does this large amount of duck breast meat only come from Muscovies and Moulards? While I said I do like making whole duck, I think next year I'd really like to have some breast meat to saute, it's just easier. So now I am seeing what breed of duck I want to go with. I've never tried Muscovies and they are something I want to try but they also have less fat and a different flavor than Pekins from what I hear. Do properly grown out, maybe 12 week old, Pekins get as meaty as a Muscovy?
     
  2. Ahab

    Ahab Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 28, 2010
    Maine
    Most of the commercial duck meant to be sold specifically as breasts seems to come from Moulards these days (typically, a Muscovy drake over a Pekin or Rouen duck). Moulard breasts are disproportionately enormous--rather like the difference between a dual-purpose chicken like a barred rock, and a cornish-rock hybrid from one of the high-production commercial strains.

    The commercial roasters are still Pekins, as near as I can tell. We raised a few batches of Pekins years ago and found them full-fleshed across the breasts at (if I remember correctly, 7 - 12 weeks). But then the last two weeks of their lives we fattened them with extra corn in their diet.

    The larger, older birds were proportionately thicker through the breast, though there was also proportionately more fat (which, of course, we rendered and saved for confit, and as the best potato-frying substance on the planet). They didn't taste substantially different from commercial ducks--using mostly commercial feed, using a commercial strain. But they were cheaper to put on the table. Although, back then, roaster chickens were .89 a pound and ducks $1.89. Now, 30 years later, store chickens are .99 a pound and ducks are pushing $6, so viewing it strictly through the cold lens of cost-benefit, they're a smarter meat choice now than then. If you like duck. Which we do.

    If you want more meat on your Pekins, follow the standard feedlot practices and feed them more food (especially corn)--as much as they'll clean up before bedtime. At least for the last few weeks of their lives (push-feeding them earlier might bring about health difficulties in some instances).
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
  3. peterlund

    peterlund Chillin' With My Peeps

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    MA Cranberry Country
    My Muscovy ducks had wonderful breast meat. They were around 12-14 weeks old, and delicious!!!!
     
  4. pringle

    pringle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 16, 2009
    Pepperell,MA
    Maybe you wernt feeding them correctly,did you leave the feed out the whole day?Or did you have certain feeding times?
     
  5. Omniskies

    Omniskies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Moulards are definitely more popular when chefs are cooking duck. I wish we had more of an interest in moulards here in America. This year I plan on keeping my most annoying muscovy drakes and putting them in with a few different ducks to see if I can get any moulard ducklings to raise for meat.

    If you run into problems with pin feathers then try making a duck candle after you have gotten the majority of the feathers off. Dip them in wax and cold water repeatedly until you have a nice thick shell all over them. Wait for it to cool and dry completely, then crack and peel the wax off. It will take virtually everything with it when it goes.

    I agree. It's a shame to waste skin. Especially duck and goose skin.
     
  6. duckfat

    duckfat Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 30, 2010
    Michigan
    If we slaughter our eight week old pekins, they seem to dress out at about four to four and one half pounds sans giblets. If we go to twelve weeks they will dress out at about six pounds sans giblets. We will fatten them up with whole corn towards the end of their life cycle because we love cooking with rendered duck fat.

    Sauted pekin duck breast with stir fried vegetables and potatoes:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Hooligan Farm

    Hooligan Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 24, 2010
    Burlington County, NJ
    I'm seeing a lot of people getting rid of Pekins cheap right now in my area. I was thinking about picking up some for the freezer camp. I'm new to this, what should I look out for?
     
  8. pringle

    pringle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 16, 2009
    Pepperell,MA
    Just try to pick the healthiest birds you can find and also no runts,I saw that you have muscovys do you have a male?You can get the biggest females and breed them with him and have some babies.
     
  9. Hooligan Farm

    Hooligan Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 24, 2010
    Burlington County, NJ
    Quote:No I don't have a male yet. Looking to get one by Spring. I have 4 hens and since its just me and my kids every other weekend I was thinking of sending the runt to the freezer camp.
     
  10. peterlund

    peterlund Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 29, 2010
    MA Cranberry Country
    Quote:Now THAT looks fantastic!!!
     

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