Raising ducks for meat...the planning phase...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by EggsForIHOP, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Chillin' With My Peeps

    488
    2
    121
    Apr 18, 2010
    TEXAS
    So...I'm taking today off from "outside work" to do a little research inside...someone tell me more about ducks for eating (not as pets so much)...

    Do ya'll use tractors? Or permanent structures? I prefer tractors because clean up is a breeze...just scoot along and BAM it's clean! But I never really have heard of their use in reference to the ducks - so any input it appreciated. I also think for me, myself and I to be the one building and doing construction...tractors are pretty darn easy to put together...

    Also...space requirements...for either pekin, muscovy, or both...(I like both breeds, have eaten both, both taste like duck...it's what I'm leaning towards right now but any other suggestions are taken here too)....either way...what kinda space are you looking at for say 15 or 20 ducklings at a time? It's a group effort of sorts, I raise a lot of stuff my city living family and friends can't...several of them instead do the gardening I suck at so we can trade...and it works out pretty well [​IMG] Duck on the regular would be a much loved addition to what we pool together and if I want any left for us here at the house, I'm gonna have to raise enough to share [​IMG] .

    Links, pics, thoughts, etc....I would love to hear it all. Yes, I've processed ducks, and to me plucking is not a huge deal, for sure more feathers than a chicken, but still not all that bad. Well worth it for that tasty duck baked with an orange sauce glaze...or duck gumbo..mmmm [​IMG] ...gumbo....yup, that makes all the feathers worth it!

    I'm mostly curious what I'm up against as far as putting together housing and any thoughts on the 2 breeds thrown in would help....I also woulda asked in the duck section...but I'm more into the meat side right now....kinda like on average you tend to see broiler chicks in a tractor, but the laying hens always seem to have a fancier tractor or coop you know? I was wondering if ducks were done the same way and I just missed the memo? or do most of ya'll have a formal, fixed duck house?

    I need guidance, thoughts and ideas! I have all winter to figure this out...but I don't know what I'm trying to figure out yet!
     
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    5,532
    187
    273
    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    This is the correct section to ask about table ducks. Butchering tends to upset the pet duckie crowd.

    I don't raise ducks in tractors, but can't think of any reason it wouldn't work. My guys have a large securely fenced orchard with an extra-secure night run with coop. If you use tractors, remember that everything loves to eat duck so pay attention to security.

    I've got Pekins for meat. A good strain will weight 7 pounds at 7 weeks. I butcher by size and not by pin feathers. I use a plucker and also use duck wax, so I am not concerned about the pin feathers. I consider them to be a bit small at their first pin feather-free period.

    If you raise Pekin, make sure they get exercise and don't feed any corn, or you will get a fatty carcass.

    Muscovy ducks are really different and I've never raised them. Is it possible to raise some of each? The Muscovy are a lot slower growing, butcher about 6 months, and give a much leaner carcass and I think a different texture and taste. So if you raise both, you get two different products.
     
  3. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Chillin' With My Peeps

    488
    2
    121
    Apr 18, 2010
    TEXAS
    On the feeding corn part - do you mean like straight up corn (deer corn, whole corn, cracked corn?), or do you mean like processed feed in general that contains corn? Because I'm just guessing after reading tags that most of the birds feed available out here are probably full of corn...I always see little yellow spots that look like ground corn also...Or rather should I ask what do you feed that you feel gives you the best outcome?

    We have the LGDs for security, so I'm not too concerned about that (and one small dog that THINKS he is an LGD even though we call him coyote bait because he's so tiny and won't be fenced in). The only thing I wish they would run off but don't is the armadillos - those hold a hypnotizing "play with me" that all the dogs can't seem to resist (and I know about leprosy, but I'm not shooting an armadillo til I have to)

    We've eaten both, and I prefer to roast the pekin type (husband does a deep fried duck in the turkey fryer that SO delicious!) But with the muscovy ducks we got one time, he made stuff like gumbo - with sausage and bacon in it - it was the best gumbo ever! And he likes to do southern "smothered" type dishes and stuff that's too tender just kinda falls apart to mush! I have found that certain recipes cater more to being made with certain types of meat while some of the more "down home" cooking kinda needs that old tough yard bird to really turn out right...

    So then, tell me this....how many ducks would you put in a 4ft X 4ft shelter with let's say a 16ft X 16ft run? If it's the pekins and you are just trying to grow out? Or even forever for a breeding trio to live in? How would that suit them?
     
  4. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    5,532
    187
    273
    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    I'm afraid I don't have any answer about tractors or small spaces. My ducks and geese have slightly over half an acre during the day and their night runs are 20 X 5 and 15 X 5 and the coop is 8 X 8. I've got 19 ducks in there currently with a small reduction in numbers coming about within the next 2 weeks.

    There has to be a square footage number somewhere, maybe one of the university sites. Ducks tend to clump close together, but you want them to have enough space to move around. Also, they don't seem to like being in direct sun. Even when it is freezing cold outside, they will be settled down in the shade.
     
  5. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Chillin' With My Peeps

    488
    2
    121
    Apr 18, 2010
    TEXAS
    About the sun - I have minimal worries [​IMG] Our 10 acres is pretty heavily wooded - even the cleared patches are surrounded in trees - so we have shade a plenty! I'll have to get some pics loaded up - it's really kinda neat.

    Now...out of curiosity...what's a good plan for feeding? Percents and things to look for? Not medicated feed, got that, NO medicated feed [​IMG] And I take it ducks can eat all the time, unlike broilers where I have to yank the food at night and wake up to chickens that want to eat me...but keeping in mind no one locally (not that anything is local here) has "duck food" what should I be researching and looking for?

    Also...how long to keep them in the brooder? Fully feathered? XX amount of weeks? Whats an average on that with pekin ducks? And can I use all the same type feeders I do with the broiler chicks? I have FOR THE BROODER the quart water jars and slide top metal feeder deals...with those bills instead of beaks, do those work? (I know, dumb question, but I want to double check).

    I'm gonna start with pekins - just a test run - raise about 10 maybe and see what kinda numbers and such i get. Eventually I want a nice big enclosure - a GIANT bird area made out of one field over to the side of the house - but that's gonna take some hubby involved time as he is MUCH better as building things that aren't wompy and crooked - I love my little crooked contraptions, and I can build some STURDY stuff, but if we go big I want it all at right angles and pretty - he is GREAT at that part! It's just gonna take all year to get it done one little bit at a time with his schedule...and I'm ready for just a few ducks sooner than that [​IMG]

    Thank you by the way - input is always appreciated!
     
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    5,532
    187
    273
    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    That's a surprise to have someone actually give a thank you for help. You are very welcome.

    Medicated feed with amprollum is absolutely safe for ducks and I feed it to my birds and to shipped chicks especially, because they have been stressed.

    Feed: 20% protein for the first 2 weeks. Drop to 16% protein for weeks 2-7, to prevent angel wing. After week 7, after the wing feathers are in, you can feed 15-16%, but if you want fast growth, you can feed a higher protein.

    I butcher Pekin at 8 weeks, and the keepers are fed for long life not fast growth. I bump the butcher Pekin up to 20% as soon as their wings get feathered and are carried well. That seems to be before week 7. They are very fast maturing.

    The ducks get all the food they want until they are adults and then they get fed a weighed amount twice a day. It's not good for them to be too fat. (Will you keep breeding stock?)

    No duck food available here, either. I feed chick starter (medicated with Amprollum) and then switch to a food labeled for turkeys. It's a locally manufactured pellet made from whole grain and vitamin mineral. You are going to have to experiment with what you can buy locally.

    Time in the brooder depends upon outdoor temperatures and what you are going to put them into and how much shelter it provides. I do it case by case and not by a time table.

    I use chick feeders for the ducklings. They need water that they can get their heads into. I use the vacuum waterers set on top of a wire topped water collection tray so they can't get the brooder completely soaked.
     
  7. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,215
    143
    243
    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    For housing, guides say 2.5-4 sq ft per duck if only housed at night. If continuously confined, 6-8 sq ft. For a run 10-25 sq ft per duck is recommended. Now this would be for adults so depending on which breed you go with you could go smaller. Maybe consider only locking them up at night and letting them free range a bit.

    Also, if you have not yet heard/read ducks are SLOBS. So, a tractor may not be a bad idea but it will take the ground at least as long to recover as from chickens.

    I have Muscovy now, I wanted something that was worth the time to butcher. They do take a while to get to size so Pekin may work better for you. Mine are ~6 months and finally have stopped growing (I think).

    I would have to say to try to brood them outdoors, weather permitting. They stink to high heaven in a very short time (believe me I know). [​IMG]

    I wouldn't worry about daylight unless you are going to breed your own and then you may only get fewer eggs if your property is really shady.

    Sorry, I kind of skipped around a bit. I lurk in the meat birds section as I have not yet butchered my first, though the time is near.

    Oregon Blues has given great advice to you and has responded to many of my posts in the past. ( I do agree that these questions are better handled here than in the duck section, people can get positively nasty when you speak of freezer camp there [​IMG] ) Although you will find great advice on every other aspect of duck rearing in the duck section.

    Good luck in your duckie adventure.
     
  8. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Chillin' With My Peeps

    488
    2
    121
    Apr 18, 2010
    TEXAS
    I actually haven't done it yet, but we have a shed with a small "room to nowhere" with windows, ac, and a spot to plug in a heat lamp that I want to turn into my permanent "brooding space". Gonna take some converting to get it ready - and removal of junk left by the previous owners too - but I can't wait to have a spot away from my dining room for brooding! (I was too lazy to get it ready for our current broiler chicks...but in another month or 2 it will be ready.)

    The whole shed except that room is tiled and was actually a little "slaughter spot" for hogs (previous owners were hog farmers) so it is meant to be washed out like a kitchen in a restaurant - with a hose and a deck brush! Once we get that room ready, all I have to do is throw down shavings and plug in the light and VOILA! Perfect spot to brood away from the house but safe from harm!

    I'm still very much in a planning phase right now...but very much ACTIVELY working to get ready for ducklings!

    And I ALWAYS TRY to remember my pleases and thank yous...I had one of those mamas that would slap you upside the head when you forgot [​IMG] She didn't play with the manners at all!
     
  9. FarmerGrant011

    FarmerGrant011 Chillin' With My Peeps

    311
    0
    99
    May 25, 2011
    Sugar Land, TX
    Quote:Um, I don't think your correct about the 6 months... [​IMG] [​IMG] Isn't the same time as pekins? I have heard of people butchering at 6 weeks.
     
  10. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    5,404
    21
    243
    Jun 19, 2010
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    I don't have a whole lotta experience with ducks, but I did have two for a while and MAN were they messy. Two ducks had a 10' x 10' run and I wish it would have been a tractor so I could have moved it around. It definitely was NOT big enough for them.

    I don't know if a tractor type idea would work... maybe while they are small, but I think they would soon outgrow it.

    In my opinion you'd be better off building a permanent coop and then giving them as BIG of a run as you possibly can.

    I was going to do meat ducks at my current house but decided to wait until we move as I want a really big run for them.

    I want a small flock of about 8 females and 2 males, plus babies. By my calculations I would need approx a 64 square foot coop (8 x 8 feet) and a 600 square foot run (30 x 20 feet). And these would be my absolute minimums, because I know how messy they are.

    Don't forget they need pools to play in too!
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by