We like ducks. They are comical additions to the farmyard and with less feed than chickens, produce meat and eggs that are tremendous.
As a saleable product, duck has drawbacks. With their 28 day incubation period (chicks incubate for 21 days) and sometimes seasonal laying period, hatchery purchased ducklings cost at least $2 more than chicks. Processing a duck costs $3.50 more than a chicken and if the timing is not correct and the bird is starting to molt, the product is not as pretty.
Beyond cost, many cooks do not have experience with preparing duck meat so finding a market for pasture raised duck is harder than for chicken or turkey. My kitchen has been my lab as I search out approachable recipes for cooking duck that is tender, crisp skinned and not greasy. Thanks to my latest recipe book purchase, Duck, Duck, Goose, my cooking results have become more foolproof.
Locally sourced, pasture raised, organic grain fed duck meat is limited, so if I can find cooks interested in trying duck, ramping up our duck flock may be a good venture for Lilac Hill.
As much as we appreciate our rare Saxony ducks, they may not fit our future production needs. As much as I would like to continue in conservation efforts for Saxony ducks, I am not sure if I can afford to keep a purebred flock. I do have a new Saxony drake who should give us a few years of service, which combined this year’s best Pekin drake, selected from the meatbird ducklings I ordered for this season, I may be able to breed a “farm duck” that lays reliably and hatch out our own Pekin x Saxony duck eggs in an effort to control costs.