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Not long ago, I posted a recipe for marinated duck. You probably guessed that the duck came from our backyard. And if so, you would be correct, because we have Pekin, mallard, and hybrid ducks. But I never covered when to process Pekin ducks. Or even how to cull them. However I get to that in another post.
Processing Pekin ducks is different than chickens, because it isn’t based on the seasons. When I discussed culling roosters, we found out chicken people typically cull and process their birds in the fall. But again, that isn’t the case with ducks.
Due to their large amount of feathers, waterfowl are generally slaughtered at 3 different times during their life cycle. And this is because it’s easier to pluck their plumage when there are no immature or pin feathers. So this is around 7, 12 1/2, or 18 weeks for ducks. Unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Best Times to Process Ducks
Pekin ducks put on weight faster than chickens, so you don’t have to worry about meat. But if you’re planning on plucking the feathers, then the best time to cull them is when there are no pin feathers. Again, that’s when the ducks are 7, 12.5, or 18 weeks old.
However I mentioned that there are other conditions that could come up, prompting a desire for marinated duck. For example, at some point, you might have an excess of drakes compared to ducks. Or you could have an abusive drake, who needs to go. Which is what happened with us in both cases.
Two Pekins and a mallard made up our original ducks that we bought from Atwood’s, during the lockdown, last year in May. Though, after my husband incubated some eggs, we ended up with a surplus of drakes. 2 more to be exact. Kirishima was the most senior drake. But he was also the most aggressive. And we thought that, after mating season, he would calm down, however that didn’t happen.
When to Process Pekin Ducks
You can cull a duck at any time you want or whenever circumstances demand it. Furthermore, duck meat can be eaten at any age (of the bird), but, as expected, it’s more tender the younger the bird is. And just as with processing roosters, we don’t de-feather. Rather we just skin the birds, which is the easiest method. However then you mainly get the breasts. So if you prefer a whole bird that also looks nice, skinning your duck won’t be an option.
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