• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Off-Taste In My Duck Meat and Eggs

 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We harvested our first duck a month back, and it had a bit of an off-taste, and not in a good way. We've eaten duck many times before, and it never had this taste. This morning we happily brought in our first duck egg, and it tasted AWFUL. We love duck eggs, and buy them frequently, and have always enjoyed the taste. But this egg was atrocious. It had the same off-flavor as the meat, but much, MUCH stronger. It was very nasty. Are our ducks sick? Is there something they could be eating that makes their eggs (and, to a lesser extent, meat) taste like this? I've tried searching the web, but am not coming up with any results. Our 9 (now 8, one got taken by predator this morning) have a large (1700 sqft) enclosure and eat "Scratch and Peck Feeds" (http://www.scratchandpeck.com/product/naturally-free-grower/). We change their drinking water twice a day, but their swimming water is really deep (500 + gallons) and we sometimes take too long in changing it. Maybe they're drinking the water and that's making their eggs nasty? I never see them in there, though... Any ideas?

Thank you for any and all help!
 
J Hampshire
Pie
Posts: 56
2
books chicken food preservation forest garden hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is an absolutely off-the-wall guess; Are ducks susceptible to anything similar to pigs / boar taint?
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't have an answer for the off taste. Just want to say my ducks are kept like yours and no problems with flavor.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've eaten ducks and their eggs from some pretty icky water, and they tasted fine.

"Atrocious" sounds nasty. And really disheartening
Does the taste remind you of anything? Fish, dirt, manure, 'off' meat etc
I assume ducks are like chickens in the way their eggs take on flavours from their diet-
I've eaten some unpleasantly fishy chicken eggs...
I don't know about the meat though, I've only tasted taint in large feral animals.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I went to turn their bedding (a job my husband usually does but hasn't gotten around to much recently because he's been working a lot of over time), I noticed what the flavor tasted like-it tasted like their bedding/old poop smells!

I'm HOPING that the reason the duck meat tasted bad was that my husband waited a day before taking out the intestines when he "harvested" it (first time butchering), and so maybe that imparted the flavor (it was pretty mild), and maybe the duck egg tasted like that because we accidentally cracked it open before washing it, but cooked it because we were so happy to have our first egg. We'll have to wait until our little lady lays another egg to find out...

It's reasuring to know that the water hasn't imparted flavor to your eggs. We're drainging the pond today, just in case. I'm also having my husband throw down a lot more pine shavings to dry out their bedding and hopefully that will help, too. (I can't do the bedding because we don't want our baby to breath in the dust, and I have no where to put him other than my back) Hopefully my husband will be able to make time every day to maintain some healthy bedding, as it is getting pretty funky.

I'm hoping it's just the bedding or bad food handling that's causing the flavor, and that they're not sick! They look fine, but I'm new to ducks...
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 196
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard that some people can taste a fishiness in eggs when the bird has been eating a fish meal based feed. We feed a fish meal based one but I have never noticed any off flavors. It does seem that the feed can impart off flavors so that's a possibility.

Our bedding has gotten pretty bad but I haven't noticed any off flavors due to it. I do wash the eggs well before cracking them open.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1304
Location: Central New Jersey
34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do not have experience with ducks. I do have a good friend who Hates mustard because of growing up on a dairy farm where one of her jobs was to go through pastures and yank any mustard - apparently it was pretty much guaranteed to ruin the milk if the cows ate it.

Point being that some of the things animals eat will definitely impact the way their products taste.

You might be having an issue with some degree of poo contamination, but it also might be that whatever they are eating that makes them taste bad is also giving a specific odor to their excrement. I would not rule out a dietary source of the problem.

 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am no expert but I'd say that the off flavor of the meat was from leaving the guts in the bird for 24 hours. From my understanding -- you want to get the meat cooled down asap and leaving the guts in greatly slows that process and thus allows for bacterial contamination.

As for the egg...I'm less confident to say what caused the off flavor in the egg...that I would say is probably from something the duck ate.
 
D. Logan
gardener
Posts: 559
Location: Soutwest Ohio
90
books food preservation forest garden rabbit tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am going to guess it actually wasn't the guts. The reason I say this is that the same flavor that was in the meat was in the eggs. That implies it has something to do with their diet. I'd suggest taking a couple days to just follow them around and see what they are getting into. There may be some particular plant or garbage pile that has their attention regularly that they are getting something unpleasant from. The odds are pretty good that they are frequently eating something you didn't realize and if you eliminate that, the flavor will go away over time as it leaves their system. That said, I'd never wait a day before gutting an animal.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I still really have no update. My husband tasted the second egg that came out, and it still had the flavor but not as bad. We now have 1.5 dozen of their eggs in the fridge but haven't eaten any more because (1) my husband doesn't want me to eat them until we know they're better, as I'm breastfeeding, and (2) My husband is still wary of them and has been putting off cooking them up for himself--he had a horrid cold for three days, which didn't help. We also haven't had time to do another slaughter (though we really need to--we have 6 males and 2 females! )

Hopefully I'll have an update soon. I don't know what they'd be eating, other than maybe their own droppings, that would give it that flavor. They just have salmon berries, blackberries, and grass in there... Unless maybe all that stuff has an off flavor because it's growing over our septic sand filter that was leaking last year... ::
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3male duck for every female duck is pretty bad. Even if you dont eat the ducks you need to kill 5 of those male duck. What you have there is almost animal cruelty. What you are tasting in the eggs from the female is stress and fear.

If you have 6 males you need 30 females, if you dont the females will live a constant life of misery, fear and stress and that is what you are tasting. PLEASE kill 5 of those male ducks and get 4 more female ones.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We definitely intend to kill off at least 4 of those drakes. We got all of them as ducklings, not knowing their gender. There were 10. We got really bad odds and ended up with 7 males and 3 females. We already ate one male, and a coyote or bobcat ate one female. I check every day for adult female ducks to buy, but there aren't any. My husband has had to work lots of overtime, so he hasn't had time to slaughter more males. Whenever I'm out there, though, they never seem aggressive, but I know they must be, as we've found the females have flown their enclosure three times. Thankfully, they have a large run, but I am definitely not happy with the arrangement, and can't wait until my husband has time to slaughter the males (not something I can really do myself while carrying a one year old). He should have time in about a week. Until then, my hands are are sadly tied .
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 196
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like you have a one year old much like my now 20 month old was! She didn't want to be worn on my back at all! Do you have any bits of fencing or bird netting around that you could use to fence off the males from the females within the pen? I know it'd be tricky with shelter/food/water ideally being duplicated but the ladies would appreciate the relief!
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
1
forest garden goat trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I couldn't get the link for your feed source to work but my first thought was that if it is not a specific waterfowl food and is designed for chickens your ducks will be deficient in niacin. You can easily remedy this by adding brewers yeast to their food.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Update! My husband has started eating the eggs again, and notes no off flavor! Yay! So, it was either contaminated when we cracked it open without cleaning it, or emptying their pond helped. He also slaughtered our biggest male (all there was time for ) and we'll be cooking up the duck tomorrow or the day after, and I'll report back on the meat flavor then.

Katy Whitby-last wrote:I couldn't get the link for your feed source to work but my first thought was that if it is not a specific waterfowl food and is designed for chickens your ducks will be deficient in niacin. You can easily remedy this by adding brewers yeast to their food.


We added brewers yeast when they were younger, as the makers of the feed say there is sufficient niacin for adults, but not growing ducklings. THank you for pointing it out, though, because we didn't know that when we first started purchasing it (co-op employee told us it was good for ducks), and one of our ducklings started limping, which led us to research and find the feed didn't have enough niacin for ducklings!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Today we cooked up the duck my husband slaughtered, and it's delicious! No off-taste at all! So, the previous bad taste was either it was the icky water it was drinking, or the fact that my husband left the entrails inside it for a day. I'm leaning toward the latter. Either way, I'm happy the nasty tastes are gone from the eggs and meat. Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions and help!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I finally figured out what was causing the off-flavor! It was reduced for quite a while, but still there was a lingering aftertaste in our eggs, especially the yokes. The eggs were palatable, but not delicious. About a month ago, I started fermenting my duck feed (Scratch and Peck), and changed nothing else. WHABAM! The off taste is gone! The eggs are creamy and delicious and half almost a nutty flavor! I don't know exactly what it was that was in the feed, giving the eggs and off-flavor. But, whatever it was is detroyed by feremting the feed. Yay!

So, if any of you are getting weird off-flavors in your poultry eggs, try fermenting the feed! It just might get rid of the flavor, while at the same time giving you healthier, stronger eggs at about 2/3rds the cost (fermenting makes the feed more absorbable by their little bodies, so they need 1/3 to 1/2 less).
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 596
Location: Victoria BC
27
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Whoa, weird! Glad to hear it's sorted, and thanks for the update.

Bit concerning about the feed in unfermented form though, I wonder what it is...

How long do you ferment the feed for?
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm thinking it's probably the fish meal, as that has been known to give an "off-flavor" to eggs. I also noticed that the off-flavor came back just a smidge yesterday, coinciding with getting to to bottom of our bag of feed, where more of the meal naturally settles (we stir the dry food daily...and by "we" I mean my two year old who uses it as a sort of "sensory bin" to scoop and dump with his construction toys).

If it's not the fish meal, it may be one of the vitamins. Hmmm, since I now am pretty sure the flavor is from the feed, maybe I should just email the company and ask their input. I'm kind of wondering why that didn't occur to me sooner!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I got a response from one of the people at Scratch and Peck. He said that the flavor was due to the omega 3 fatty acids in the fish meal and flax meal. I guess that means the not-so-yummy eggs are really good for me... He also suggested feeding my ducks a lower protein feed, such as 16%. But, I though ducks needed 17% protein...

I'm probably just going to ferment the feed for an extra day. The fermenting of the feed seems to predigest some of the protein, so a little more fermenting might get rid of the flavor all together again. I currently ferment for about 1.5-2 days (I try to start the next batch right after I feed the ducks, but sometimes life gets in the way). Since I reuse the liquid from each ferment, it ferments pretty fast (doest pretty much all it's bubbling and expanding within 14 hours of starting a new batch).
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The first person I talked to at Scratch and Peck ended up referring me to their animal diet expert, and she explained a bit more about what was going on with the flavor. Here's what I understand so far. The fishy taste and smell comes from trimethylamine, which is caused by the oxidization of choline. When a fish rots--and it's choline oxidizes--the lovely rotten fish smell of trimethylamine comes about. Foods that contain high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids--such as oils and meals derived from fish, linseed, camelina, and rapeseed--also have choline. And, when a bird digests that choline via bacterial fermentation in their guts, trimethylamine is created. Many (most?) poultry can convert the trimethylamine in their livers into a nonodorous form. Others, such as 5-10% chickens that lay brown eggs, and supposedly my ducks as well, cannot convert the trimethylamine in their livers. So, that delightful off flavor is passed onto my duck eggs (and meat as well). In the case of the chickens (couldn't find anything about ducks), there is actually a gene responsible for their ability/inability to transform the trimethylamine, and you can actually get your chicken tested to see if it has the desirable gene or not. You can also, supposedly, smell their breath. Those with fishy breath cannot do the transformation.

There's also things that can make it more difficult for poultry's livers to process the trimethylamine. The tannins in rapeseed and linseed interfere with the liver's ability to transform it to it's nonodorous form. Wheat, barley and leguminous plants help the gut ferment more choline into trimethylamine.

ASIDE from the trimethylamine issue, the fishy-flavor can be caused simply by polyunsaturated acids (such as linseed and fish oil).

Here's the sources I used for wrapping my brain around this: Wikipedia on Trimethylamine, Omega 3 Fatty Acid Research, pages232&233, ISA Genetics, "'Fishy' Taint in Brown Eggs ", and Do Your Eggs Taste Fishy, Curse of the Omegas

So, my eggs are fishy because my ducks eat lots of Omega-3 rich foods, and cannot transform some of the compounds into non-stinky forms. I wonder if, by fermenting their feed, I am helping pre-digest that choline into a non-odorous form? Also, wonderful woman at Scratch and Peck (who pointed many of the above research out to me), said that she noticed that poultry that get lots of water are less likely to have the fishy taint, and that she tastes it the most in poultry during the summer heat when they aren't drinking as much. This makes a lot of sense, really, since water likely really helps the liver function.

She also suggested that I could cut back on their feed and substitute about 1/3rd of their feed for scratch (such as a mix of barley, wheat and oats), and that reducing the amount of omega 3s should reduce the fishy flavor. I almost wonder, since the transformation from stinky to not-stinky form of trimethylamine takes place in their livers, if having too much is actually taxing to their livers?

So, I've got some answers, and a lot more questions. I really wish I had a better understanding of the inner workings of livers, etc. so I could better know how to apply this knowledge (and to know if I'm really understanding it correctly). But, physiology, etc has never been my strong point...
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 596
Location: Victoria BC
27
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nifty, thanks for the continued updates; I'll be interested to hear how the continued diet experiments go.

At least you know it's not something 'wrong' with the eggs per se!

From a total layman's perspective, if the liver is responsible for removing this, and there is more than it can remove... it kinda sounds like a suboptimal thing, since if it wasn't, why would the liver be removing it in the first place...?
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1032
Location: Pacific Northwest
94
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dillon Nichols wrote:

From a total layman's perspective, if the liver is responsible for removing this, and there is more than it can remove... it kinda sounds like a suboptimal thing, since if it wasn't, why would the liver be removing it in the first place...?


That's what my husband and I were thinking. Upon further research, I found that humans also have a the same sort of genetic conditions, called Trimethylaminuria. Those with it also cannot convert the trimethylamine, and so have fishy-smelling urine, breath and sweat (and probably "eggs"/periods, too, but no one talked about that!) when they eat foods rich in choline. According to the few pages I've read so far, their liver's inability to convert the trimethylamine causes no actual health problems, only social and emotional ones...

"While TMAU does not cause other medical problems, it can be extremely stressful for affected individuals. While some people with TMAU are not aware of their body odor, other people with the condition are very sensitive to it and may become socially withdrawn as a result. The disorder can cause generally negative effects on educational, personal, social, and career environments. TMAU has also been associated with severe depression, occasionally leading to suicidal tendencies, although evidence of this is lacking." (http://www.healthinhandorganics.com/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?StoreID=9b80268fe45a4f9eb80f01f5295f7abd&DocID=condition-trimethylaminuria).


BUT, the same page also mentioned that patients with liver failure also can have Trimethylaminuria. They didn't get into the cause/effect, though I would assume that I wish I knew if my ducks have a genetic inability to convert the trimethylamine, or if their livers are just too overwhelmed by having too much choline in their diet...
 
Guerric Kendall
Posts: 102
Location: zone 6a, NY
3
chicken duck forest garden
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, great research you've done here. What an odd problem. I'm surprised this genetic issue hasn't been entirely bred out yet, at least with chickens if not ducks. Glad the fermentation is working out for you. There's another advantage for fermented feed to add to the list.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic