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How is duck processing different from chicken processing?

 
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I got 56 cornish cross chicks yesterday. They will be butchered out in 6-8 weeks.  This is my third or 4 times raising meat birds. Looking to try meat ducks the next time around.

How is processing of ducks different from chickens?
 
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Two differences I noticed, the first is minor, there is less room to get your hand inside to pull everything out, and the second and much more major is that they are much harder to pluck, a chicken takes me 5 minutes a duck takes nearly 30 minutes even using wax.
 
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I feel like the timing of the harvest is the main difference. I harvest chickens when they're ready and I have time.  I dont take into consideration exact age of the bird.  Ducks on the other hand are easiest to pluck at 7,12 1/2 and 18 weeks. Ive started raising Pekins for meat. Ive been harvesting them at 7 weeks,  they get big quick.  I take the drakes from our egg laying flock at 18 weeks , once all their feathers are mature. Ive tried to do it at 12 1/2 weeks but havemt been able to hit the matk and have had a pin feather battle both times. But 7 and 18 eeksseem to work well for me.

The other difference , at least for me, is the fat. I save every bit of duck fat and skin when butchering to render down.  Duck fat has become my primary cooking fat.  I dont save and render chicken fat.

 
Martin Bernal
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Some questions

How many pounds of Pardin wax should I buy?

how many ducks should I buy minimum to make it worth my wild and so they have enough friends?

What is the best way to filter the wax after each use?

where can I buy a stainless steel funnel  to put the birds in when I start the processing. We where useing a chopping block and an axe and I really don’t like that method.
 
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We dressed out our Silver Appleyard's with out any problems.  I did the hard part, then handed them to the girls who plucked them and dealt with the innards and everything else.  They said they no longer want to deal with chickens for meat because the ducks were far easier to pluck and process.  The ducks were so easy to pluck they didn't even scald them.  We had the hot water ready but they grabbed a few feather and they came out easy.  They kept pulling and had no problem at all.   I don't know about the wax others said they used.  We never used wax for the chickens, turkeys, or the ducks, but the ducks were the only ones that didn't need scalding.

They immediately ordered up 15 Pekins, the first of which will be dressed out in a couple weeks.  Then the hatchery had the Pekin ducklings on sale for $1.50 each so they ordered another 15 that will be dressed out in a month.  We haven't dressed out the Pekins yet but they seem to believe they are just as easy to process, based on their research.  The older ones were supposed to be processed a couple weeks ago but several of us were sick and didn't want to be processing in the yard while it was snowing.  Now I am told they are growing new feathers so we have to wait a couple weeks so they don't have to deal with the pin feathers.

 
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Martin Bernal wrote:Some questions

How many pounds of Pardin wax should I buy?

how many ducks should I buy minimum to make it worth my wild and so they have enough friends?

What is the best way to filter the wax after each use?

where can I buy a stainless steel funnel  to put the birds in when I start the processing. We where useing a chopping block and an axe and I really don’t like that method.



If you are buying local, buy however many you want, but if you are going to keep any I am told you want a minimum of 4 females for each male.

If you are ordering from a hatchery you want to check to see where the cut off is for shipping costs.  Don't buy 5 if you can get 15 shipped for the same shipping cost.  

And, if you order ducklings, or other waterfowl, from any of the smaller hatcheries, they will be shipped from Metzer Farms, out of California.  We found this out by accident after ordering from our preferred hatchery and receiving the ducks from a California location.  It didn't take the girls long to figure out Metzer contracts with many of the others and just puts the other hatcheries name on the label and paperwork.

https://www.metzerfarms.com/

I am not sure about the wax you are referring to, we never used any wax.

We bought the killing cone, or processing cone, or whatever they call it, from a local ranch store.  Several places sell them on line but call your local ranch or farm store and ask for their pricing.  I thirst dozen birds or so I just hung them upside down from a tree branch with a rope around their ankles and sliced both sides of the neck, it works well enough but if they fit in the cone it prevents the wings from flapping and making a mess.
 
Martin Bernal
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I get my Cornish cross from metzer. I live kinda down the street from them. It does not take more than 18 hours for the birds to get from the Gonzalez post office to the Morgan hill post office. If they would let me pick them up it would be 2 hours of transport time.

Yes kill cones is what I was looking for. Wondering if I can use a traffic cone. What we found was that the somehow they break their wings because of the flapping when ushering a chopping block.
 
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Every time we slaughter and pluck peking ducks,  we think it's such a hassle that why are we bothering?

Then every time we start eating them, we tell ourselves we need to do double the next year. =P

The taste is *absolutely* worth it, and raising them is super easy, but processing them is a bit of a pain, compared to chickens.

We do it on the mythical 7.5 week window, and pluck them with a wizbang plucker, and wax them, and they still have feathers. Oh well! Still worth it.

Don't skin them! It'll be much easier to skin instead of pluck, but the skin is critical to doing duck properly. The skin holds an immense amount of fat, which is one of the best tasting animal fats. You score the skin on the breast (cut a criss-cross in it), and cook the breast skin-side down first, before flipping it, so the fat can escape out of the skin through the criss-cross cut, and cook the breast.

Duck breast is one of the only poultries to be eaten medium rare, red meat. If it ain't red, you ruin the taste. Alot of people think they don't like duck because they over cook it. Duck is the steak of birds. Also, best paired with a fruity sauce - the French use Orange sauce (duck l'orange), the Chinese use plum sauce. I've tried both, and both are amazing.

While we don't get much meat off a duck (certainly not as much as a cornish cross), we get two medium-sized breasts (60% the size of cornish cross), the tenders (very small), and the legs. The wings are too small to bother with.

In addition, after pressure cooking the corpses, we get some fantastic jars of duck broth, and a staggering amount of duck fat we separate from the broth. This fat is one of the best tasting animal fats ever.
(And after pressure cooking into broth, the bones are soft enough to easily push a fork through, and safe for the dogs)

Finally, we use the livers and some of the fat to make Duck Pate. A kind of spread to spread on crackers that tastes **incredible**. Describing it as a liver spread sounds disgusting, but even people who don't like liver normally, turn ravenous over Duck Pate.

How much wax doth thou need? Start with buying six blocks 1lb blocks, if cheap enough. You'll recover about 80% of it.
Sometimes I've gotten good enough plucks out of the plucker and scalder and doing it on the mythical 7.5 week mark (or the later second window), that I don't always bother with the wax.

If you learn to not be too finicky over the pin feathers, processing goes easier. Especially when all you really care about is the breasts and legs being featherless, and you pressurecook the corpse, you don't need to bother getting the pin feathers off the entire corpse if it's just turning into broth and fat.

How many do you need if keeping a flock? At least 1 male and 4 females, preferably more like 1 male and 7 females.
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Two differences I noticed, the first is minor, there is less room to get your hand inside to pull everything out, and the second and much more major is that they are much harder to pluck, a chicken takes me 5 minutes a duck takes nearly 30 minutes even using wax.



agreed!

Most of the people I know skin a duck instead of plucking as it takes way less energy and time.  Make sure your knife is sharp and you have at least two knives as those feathers can dull a knife as fast as sawing through a tree.  Feathers = armour protection.  
 
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Agree with the comments on plucking being the biggest difference.  IF you can time your slaughter to when they have minimal pin feathers it helps a ton.  But the week based method mentioned by others is no terribly reliable.  The variation based on climate (and time of year), diet, particular line of the breed, and so on will cause that to vary by easily 1-2 weeks.  If you have a large enough number of ducks you can start by processing one at the early end of the time frame you want and seeing how bad the pin feathers are.  If bad, wait a few days and process one more.  Repeat until the pin feathers are minimal and then process the rest.
 
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Put dish soap in the water, don a glove that will protect you from the heat and get your hand in the scald pot to rub the duck feathers. This is how you get the feathers plucked easily. That is what we have discovered over years of water fowl processing.
 
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