The Duck Diaries
Well folks, the countdown is on. This time next week I’ll be packaging up twelve freshly processed ducks for the freezer. So far this has been a relatively easy meat project; just as simple as raising meat chickens, if you discount the water issue. But, I think the water would be a non-issue if I used an automatic water bowl similar to those used for dogs. That way the ducks could have an endless supply of water to drink and wash their faces in and I wouldn’t have to refill one-gallon water fonts four to five times a day. In reality the ducks use more water for washing themselves then they do for drinking. I have also decided that if I raise ducks again I will build a dedicated area that has more space and housing and figure out some way to manage the water splashing so the whole place doesn’t become a muddy mess. Right now they are in a corner of the barn. Although they have plenty of room there is no way for me to put together a set-up that allows them to go outside. I also think that more space will cut down on the manure build-up and I will use fewer bags of shavings for bedding.
I was asked if the ducks I raise will be less expensive than those you can buy in the stores. To be honest, I’m not sure. I haven’t calculated out all my expenses yet. But, what I do know is that I will have used 150 pounds of feed and about 6 bags of shavings by the time we butcher next weekend. I’m sharing the cost of the feed with sis and one bag of feed was free with a buy-one-get-one free coupon Brianne won at a sheep show. The cost of the ducklings was a trade with the hatchery for our Sebastopol gander that died shortly after we brought him home last year. The water is a big mystery because I don’t use a meter to track it. But, a rough idea of cost for someone thing of raising ducks would be:
$57.70 — 12 ducklings
$37.00 — 3 50# bags of feed
$40.50 — 6 bags of shavings
Only our local gourmet stores and some ethnic stores carry duck meat. The gourmet stores charge almost $20 a pound for breast meat and slightly less for thigh and leg combos while the ethnic stores sell frozen packaged duck meat for about $16.00 for a package that is less than 3 pounds. This is one of the reasons we decided to raise our own. With the above numbers, our ducks will end up costing about $11.26 per duck. BUT…the big difference is our ducks will process out at about 5 pounds each—twice as heavy as anything in the markets.
For now though I’m keeping my eye on the ball and getting ready for butchering day.
Sandy and I are doing things a little differently this time. Instead of me packing up a load of birds and traveling to her farm she is coming to mine and bringing all the equipment with her—scalder, plucker, stainless steel table, cones, knives and scissors. I’ll supply the electricity for heating up the water in the scalder and an endless supply of water for rinsing and washing. We’ll set up on the patio where we will have easy access to electrical outlets and water, shade and the kitchen for ice and other necessities.
Should be interesting, folks.
Stay tuned. The whole process will be posted here next week.
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