1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

What age to butcher Muscovy ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by AZ Rabbits, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. AZ Rabbits

    AZ Rabbits Out Of The Brooder

    80
    1
    43
    Dec 27, 2008
    Arizona
    Just wondering what age everyone likes to butcher their Muscovy ducks when raising them as dual purpose. Thanks!
     
  2. ian4379

    ian4379 Chillin' With My Peeps

    267
    6
    101
    May 8, 2011
    Australia
    hi, i do mine at 13 weeks. the best way to figure out what you like is to try different ages. ive tried from 12 weeks through to 20, you just have to weigh up taste vs size and of course pin feathers. at twelve weeks they taste great but are small, at 20 weeks they have a stronger taste courtesy of testosterone, are a little tougher but are a lot bigger. youve also got to weigh up the extra feed to get the extra size.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. AZ Rabbits

    AZ Rabbits Out Of The Brooder

    80
    1
    43
    Dec 27, 2008
    Arizona
    Thanks. So is 13 weeks probably the optimal time taking feed/meat conversion into consideration?

    I usually take the skin off when I butcher chickens and would probably do the same with ducks so I don't think plucking pin feathers will be an issue. However, I may need to change that habit if they are better with the skin...
     
  4. Mum

    Mum Chillin' With My Peeps

    872
    19
    128
    Dec 23, 2011
    UK
    According to my book on "Self Sufficiency" (John Seymour) 10 weeks is the time to kill; they are at their prime and easiest to pluck.

    There is a PDF version of the book and it is page 128. (you can google it)
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. ian4379

    ian4379 Chillin' With My Peeps

    267
    6
    101
    May 8, 2011
    Australia
    in my opinion at ten weeks they would be far too small, its a waste of ten weeks worth of food. from twelve to sixteen weeks there is an extra 500 grams in weight of the whole processed bird.

    in regards to skinning them thats personal choice, they'll be less dry with the skin on, but if you have to process a lot of birds you'll soon get sick of plucking. i've been butchering my birds for 18 months now and after trying all different ways i've settled on plucking the legs and breasts and cutting them of, if i have to do more than 4 at a time i'll skin them though, i dont have the patience!

    13 weeks is the time we've settled on for taste and size, the meat is still a pale colour versus a redder colour a few weeks later, plus the pin feathers are only just starting to come through, i dont eat the skin so i'm not worried about them.

    we've found with the legs to cook them at 160 egrees celcius for 30 minutes, let them rest for another 30 minutes the put them back in the oven at 180 degrees celcius for another 20 minutes and they'll come out nice and tender, its the resting that helps with the tenderness. the breasts i like best sliced with salt and pepper.

    good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,215
    139
    243
    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    I processed my first muscovy at about 4.5 months old. I roasted it for Thanksgiving and it was very moist and delicious. I processed the rest of the drakes about 2 months later. I skinned them all but had no problem with the meat being tough or dry. I usually slow cook the legs/thights and I grill or pan fry the breast. I like them best with salt and pepper seared on eacy side for a few minutes and finished in the oven to medium rare-medium. [​IMG]
    I can't imagine processing them so young. As ian1379 said, they would be very small. I will try plucking one again once my ducklings are grown. The first muscovy was the first bird that I ever processed and plucking was a nightmare for me. I have processed some chickens since so I have a bit more experience now.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. ian4379

    ian4379 Chillin' With My Peeps

    267
    6
    101
    May 8, 2011
    Australia
    yep it really is personal taste, i see older birds go to meat buyers at the auctions all the time, i just prefer the taste of the younger birds over the older ones, i havent eaten an older duck before but wasn't keen at all on the older drakes, like i said though its personal taste.

    thats part of the fun of growing/raising your own food, a lot of trial and error[​IMG] its pretty funny with all the technology around that we have to re-learn whats been forgotten from our grandparents generation, i find it pretty sad that there are people out there who have never tasted fresh homegrown fruit and veg let alone home grown meat.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Dusky Beauty

    Dusky Beauty Chillin' With My Peeps

    524
    6
    111
    Aug 11, 2011
    Far West Phoenix
    AZ rabbits,
    I've been processing light/medium drakes that are extremely lean and in my experience trying to roast a skinless duck was thoroughly dry no matter what I did (even trying a roasting bag). If I have to skin for pinfeathers I put that bird towards a stew or a stir fry. In stir fry I fooled my relatives-- they took it for beef! and it was very very good that way. I also tried a "duck and dumplings" recipe and it made a very hearty stew that my husband was fond of... but I couldn't get past how the dish was "supposed to taste" with chicken enough to enjoy it myself.

    Most of the birds that are smallish I split for ease and speed of gutting- they make fine Barbecue soaked in a marinade and grilled low and slow! I only prepare my best boys for roasting-- plucking each by hand, carefully scorching the dander and do a dainty job of getting all the innards out, but I always prefer to leave skin on if I can. Even if you can't get the birds a totally clean appearance I think it's better to cook it with the skin and then remove it before serving.

    P.S. As a fellow arizonan on the fence about rabbits I've been enjoying your site for a while! Good to see you on the duck board!
     
    2 people like this.
  9. HartRice

    HartRice Out Of The Brooder

    20
    0
    22
    Feb 19, 2010
    Wheeler, WI
    So I am wondering then what to do with drakes that you have had for a couple of years or year in your breeding program? Are they going to taste awful? What can be done with them? Are restaurants then only buying ducks that are several months old? Thanks for any help. I have personally never ate duck but have raised Muscovies for 10 years for others to enjoy and have sold them as day old ducklings up to 1-3 year old hens and drakes. Thanks for any help.
     
  10. Grassman 52

    Grassman 52 Chillin' With My Peeps

    315
    3
    91
    Aug 2, 2012
    Ludlow Mass
    I also raise and eat my ducks - I use a product called "duck wax" to help with the job of plucking - I hand pluck the duck very quickly and get about 70% of the large feathers off and then dunk the bird into the hot wax - then into ice water and repeat one or two times. After the wax gets hard- all you do is peal the wax off and you have a great looking rooster without killing yourself. I love the skin!

    The important part is that Duck Wax has an added adhesive and is not the same as paraffin wax.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by