Broiler ducks - quick meat without much hassle
From early spring to late autumn we live in the village, which allows us not only to grow a variety of vegetables in the garden, but also to engage in poultry. In the poultry yard in the summer, we keep chickens, turkeys and broiler ducks. If you live in a village and there is a pond nearby in your area, then it makes sense to think about raising ducks to provide your family with fresh meat. Ducks are relatively unpretentious, independent, and the slaughter of this poultry is done after 2 months. I will share my experience in growing broiler ducks in this article.
The main advantages of broiler ducks
Broiler variations of poultry are better quality and more meat. Broiler ducks from classic breeds are distinguished by accelerated growth, a larger percentage of meat relative to fat, a large mass and improved taste. In addition, modern broiler ducks are unpretentious and highly fertile.
Usually duck fattening takes about six months, but for broiler variations this time is reduced to two months. This period is enough to get the maximum amount of meat per carcass. But if you keep the broilers longer, then they, like ordinary breeds, begin to accumulate fat, the need for feed increases and the profitability of growing decreases. Due to the short period of keeping the bird before slaughter, one or two broods of ducks can be raised in one summer.
The meat of broiler ducks has a more delicate consistency, and at the same time it has practically no characteristic specific musky smell and smack of ducklings. Broiler ducks are divided into many crosses (hybrids), we prefer to breed Beijing White ducks. On its basis, many modern cross-countries were later developed.
But the cost of ducklings “Beijing White” is low, the differences with more modern hybrids are not so fundamental, and to find young growth on sale because of the great popularity of the breed is very easy.
The average weight of the Beijing White duck at the time of slaughter reaches three to four kilograms. The breed is distinguished by a pure white plumage, a bright orange beak and orange-red paws.
In one season, we tried to add to the "Beijing White" a few duck muleards. This broiler variety appeared as a result of crossbreeding domestic ducks with indochka. Outwardly, mullards are mainly distinguished by the presence of black marks on a white background.
However, this experience was negative. According to our observations, mulard ducks are not flocking birds and do not have affection for their yard. That is, if the ducks of the Beijing White breed always kept together and independently returned home after swimming on an open pond, then driving muleards home was a big problem. In addition, the meat of duck mullards seemed harsh to us.
Purchase and maintenance of broiler ducklings
Usually we get ducklings in late April or early May. At the same time, we take bred chicks at the age of 10-15 days, since by this time they are already strong and they can be kept outdoors. In addition, at this age, ducklings are transferred to a more diverse feed.
Of course, there are specialized compound feeds for older ducklings, but we do not use them. The main food of ducklings: crushed fish, as well as various grain feeds - crushed corn, peas, wheat, barley, oilcake, etc. As a vitamin supplement, we use fresh herbs, boiled root vegetables and vegetables, for example, grated young squash or pumpkin mixed with grain.
Drinkers with plenty of water must be located within the reach of ducks. Ducklings spend the night in the house, where the temperature should remain at the level of 18-20 degrees.
In healthy ducklings at the age of about one month, the soft yellow fluff begins to change to adult white plumage. It is very important that the ducklings receive proper nutrition, since the poultry organism spends about half of the nutrients that come from the feed on feather growth.
Features of the content of broiler ducks
A duck is a waterfowl, and broiler ducks are no exception. Therefore, ideally, they should also have constant access to water. We are lucky in this respect - in the center of the village near the house there is a pond. In addition, there is water in the meadow passing through our site from spring to mid-summer. Thanks to this, our ducklings can practice swimming without leaving the fence, and adult ducks go swimming on their own at the pond.
If the pond is not in your yard, then young ducks (after they reach 20-25 days of age) are "taken on an excursion" to the water source for several days in a row, and after swimming they are driven home and generously fed. Soon, the ducks get used to their yard and, hungry, flock back home, and then go back to the water.
This can happen from one to several times a day; at night, ducks also almost always come home themselves. But sometimes they decide to spend the night at the pond, and they have to be called into the yard on their own.
Please keep in mind that sometimes the local administration is opposed to visiting open ponds of the village by poultry and may impose a fine on the bird owners. Also, free-grazing ducks risk falling prey to predators - martens or foxes, as well as birds of prey, who wandered into the village, but, fortunately, we didn’t have such incidents.
For an overnight stay, ducks need a shelter in the form of a barn-house. On the floor there is a layer of straw or sawdust with a thickness of 10-15 centimeters, which is replaced as it becomes dirty. As a disinfection, a thin layer of lime-fluff is previously poured onto the floor. Also, the house should be reliably closed and not have wide slots to prevent predators from attacking at night. In addition, it should not have drafts and dampness. Ducks go to bed with the sunset, letting them out into the fresh air is best with the first rays.
Ducks know their yard well, so without the need to build a fence for them is optional. It is best to give ducks a place where they will have access to water, and where shrubs or trees grow, in the shade of which birds can take refuge in the midday heat (for this purpose a canopy can be built). Chickens may well be neighbors of ducks, but in our country ducks have successfully shared the territory with turkeys.
Feeding broiler ducks
When ducks freely visit reservoirs, the bird obtains part of its food on its own. In rivers and ponds, ducks eagerly eat duckweed, algae, waterfowl, tadpoles, larvae and small fish. However, if such a diet is enough for wild birds, then broiler ducks on such a diet will most likely not gain enough weight. Therefore, they receive basic nutrition from the owner.
Broiler ducks are fed on average 4 times a day; they are sprinkled with food as they are eaten. The main diet of ducks in our farm is shredded fish (large bones are best removed). In second place is a mash, which may consist of various grains (chopped corn, barley, wheat, peas, etc.), chopped greens (quinoa, nettle, beet and carrot tops), boiled vegetables (potatoes, carrots), raw grated vegetables (pumpkins, carrots, zucchini, you can also grated apple), you can add a little bone meal and cake.
All ingredients are mixed with a small amount of water until crumbly. Liquid and sticky mash is dangerous for ducks, as it can clog the airways. Ducks drink a lot, so they should always have clean water available.
Slaughter of broiler ducks
Poultry farmers have experimentally established that the optimal slaughter time for broiler ducks occurs on 60-70 days of the bird's life. By this age, the weight of a duck usually reaches three kilograms. After this period, the ducks not only begin to accumulate fat, a second molt occurs. Because of this, plucking the carcass becomes much more difficult, since feathers form stubby stumps. Duck down is soft and suitable for making pillows or blankets.
As for the taste of broiler duck meat, it can really be described as tender and really tasty. In most people, ducklings are associated with coarse fiber fatty meat with a specific taste. But anyone who tries broiler duck meat forgets these stereotypes.
Sometimes we treat guests with a meat dish, offering to guess what kind of meat they had a chance to try. And, in fact, no one has yet managed to identify ducklings in the proposed dish. But all at the same time noted the very high palatability of the meat and were really surprised that the duck is so tasty and lean.