The ABCs of Homesteading: D is for Ducks


Now that you've got the ABCs of homesteading down – asceticism, borrowing, and creativity – it's time to move on in our list of practical homesteading skills to D for Ducks.

Many homesteaders choose chickens as a first livestock experience because we already depend on their “products” like eggs, breasts, stock, and whole roasters for our livelihood. But, despite the comfortable familiarity of chickens, if you are really eager to skill-up and begin meeting your basic needs at home, consider Pekin ducks for an expedited introduction to butchery, egg production, soil building, and food preservation.

Raising Pekin Ducks

Pekin ducks reach slaughter weight of 8-10 pounds at 7 weeks of age which is similar to, or better than, the rate of return on meat chickens. As a homesteader, you will probably allow your flock to free-range forage and raise fodder or fly larva (check out the upcoming “F is for Fodder” post for more details). So, since Pekin ducks grow so quickly, they spend less time in the brooder and become efficient foragers earlier which cuts the amount of time your meat birds depend on bagged food and your intensive labor for their survival.

Duck and chicken can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Duck, however, has something chicken doesn't. Lots of fat! Fat for cooking can be hard to produce in your first year of homesteading because it takes months to years to develop other home-based fat providing systems like nut trees, dairy herds, or pigs. With Pekins, you can render delicious lard in 7 weeks. Additionally, duck meat can be preserved in salt or fat, just like pork, which is important for homesteaders concerned about off-grid food storage.

Ducks in the Greenhouse

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