So, out of the 40 some hatched, all survived to adulthood. A couple succumbed to one dog's bite when she had food and did not want to share. She is under correction for this behaviour and is encouraged to eat her food away from the ducks and chickens.
I did sell only half of the hatch. The remainder went to the Hutterites to be processed, but what a waste of time and money that is. They do not get the small feathers, called pin feathers, out of the carcass, so the skin is useless. The pin feathers can be painstakingly removed after thawing. The skin is delicious and crispy when roasted so the effort is worthwhile when there is time. The young ducks were 12- 14 weeks old, perfect for slaughter, but they are not meat breeds. The average carcass dressed weight was a meahgre 2.5 pounds with only afew reaching 4 pounds. There is not much meat on a duck carcass at best, so perhaps a pound of meat on a 2.5 pound carcass is what one can expect. The processor is1.5 hours from here. I drove there and back twice, so 6 hours. The cost to process 19 ducks was $178.00. If you count the fuel cost and not my time, adding another $50 to the $178 would bring the total to $238 for 19 skinny little ducks. They would be better killed and used for dog food which costs me $1 a pound. As it is the cost works out to be about $12.50 per duck, so $12.50 per pound of meat. That does not include the feed cost for the past 3 months or my time. If we add in feed costs, that brings the cost to about $15 per pound for roast duckling, still no labour accounted for.
See, it is just not worth it. The geese and ducks are $9 each for processing plus the long drive there and back twice in a day. I am going to try to find a local hunter here who will simply skin and gut the birds in the fall. Then I will wash them and freeze them and hopefully trade some for the hunter's time and labour.
There are 15 ducklings recently hatched to two mothers and several ducks still on nests, plus 4 chickens on nests. Last year I vowed to not incubate birds and did not abide by my thought, but for sure next year I will unless I have prepaid orders for them.
No wonder farmers cannot make a living with animals. If I sold the ducks for $20 to another farmer, then that is my best bet. Otherwise, I do not know anyone who will gladly pay for a scrawny duck with pin feathers at $15 per pound. I am not allowed to sell them anyhow, according to Alberta regulations. In Saskatchewan or BC farmers can sell their meats, but not here. Go figure.
Anone for roast skinny duck with feathers?