When is the best age to cull drakes?


Crooked Creek Poultry
8 Years
Sep 20, 2011
I have three drakes that will be 8 weeks old on Jan 2nd. These drakes are not going to fit into my flock in any way. What is the best age to cull a drake? I have never plucked a duck and am hoping to make short work of it. I have read it is around 12 weeks, is this correct?
Somewhere within 6 1/2 - 10 weeks, you have a 5-10 day window without pin feathers. If you miss that, wait another 6-10 weeks and they will have another period without pin feathers.

If you feel under the feathers of the breast, you can feel pin feathers.

8 weeks worked very well for my Pekins. They were huge, dressing out 4 1/2 - 5 pounds, and we missed the pin feathers, which made them easier to pluck and they came out nice and clean.
Great! Thanks for the reply, I am going to check them today and if the time is right cull tomorrow. Yikes I hope I do this right.

I have read about the oil gland, it is in the top of the tail?
The oil glands are on the top of the tail, one on either side of the spine. With chickens, I cut the oil gland out. With ducks, the oil gland is huge, so I find it easiest to simply cut the entire tail off.

The oil gland won't poison your meat, but it has a sort of "dirt" taste, so it is best to remove it.
Thanks again OB! My 11yr old has pardoned one of the drakes
so we will be doing only the two.
Didn't have time last weekend to process the drakes, but we did get it done yesterday. I did not miss the pin feathers so we skinned them. I wasn't planning on meat birds so there isn't a whole lot of meat. I've got the legs and bones for duck sauce and will be using the breast in some sort of dish. Not sure what yet.

They are resting in the fridge for the three days and then I will cook them up. If we like the meat (never had duck) I will be getting Silver Appleyards from Holderreads. Hopefully I will get more breast meat from them.

I had no problem with any of the process. From what I've read on here about the odor I was expecting something MUCH MUCH worse. My mother told me I would hurl, nope I went in the kitchen after doing one of the ducks and had a snack and then walked outside and did the other one. Doesn't smell bad at all.

I'm glad I can handle this, I've got 16 turkeys coming in April and now I know I can do my geese and any bird with no problem.
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Heck yes, I can recommend a good recipe! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Red-Wine-Braised-Duck-Legs-14324

A modified version is probably our favorite duck recipe. I use a crock pot instead of the oven, substitute heavily-seasoned duck stock for chicken stock (no-brainer) and some fresh rosemary for some of the fresh thyme, double the amount of *hic* wine, and for the mixed dried fruits we like raisins, apricots, and cranberries (craisins). And yes, that's two whole heads of garlic - yummy!

If you skinned your ducks, as I do, you can lightly dust them with flour and brown them quickly in a little olive oil. I add ALL of the dried fruit to the liquid near the end of the reduction.

So, the "battle rhythm" is: Previous night: make the stock, reduce the wine, peel the garlic, and brown the meat. Morning: pick thyme and rosemary, add to crock with meat, stock, and wine reduction. Set crock pot on low. Evening: Preheat oven to "warm" (170F). Strain crock contents. Put liquid into saucepan, and set to boil. Debone duck meat (it's falling off the bone by now, anyway), chop if desired, place in large oven-safe dish. Squish garlic and seasonings through strainer, or mash with a fork, add to duck meat, cover dish and place in oven. When liquid is almost reduced, add dried fruit. When fruit is soft, add meat and seasonings. Devour with reckless abandon.

The hardest part is making yourself wait for the liquid to reduce, while the kitchen smells heavenly and your audience is impatient, but it's worth it. Tastes like it has a million calories, but it's just concentrated flavor.
If what you've got is a couple of small duck breasts, duck is really good in stir fry. I like it with asparagus and snow peas.

The flavor of duck goes really well with soy sauce and oriental cooking.

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