If you are new to homesteading and you have decided to raise ducks for meat, choosing a specific duck breed can be confusing, considering that there are multiple options. Due to differences in taste and flavor, some duck breeds are more suitable choices than others.
What Are The Best Duck Breeds To Raise For Meat? Some of the best duck breeds to raise for meat are Pekin, Moulard, Muscovy, and Rouen. These breeds are known for either growing fast, growing large, or having an incredible taste.
Which Duck Breed Is The Most Popular? Why?
While Pekin is the most popular duck breed, some other breeds that are well-known include Muscovy, Rouen, Moulard, Cayuga, and Aylesbury. Most of these breeds are popular because of their taste and size.
Growing ducks for meat can be straightforward if you are familiar with the very best breeds. Among the tons of duck breeds that have gained popularity over the years, here are some of the most notable, and the reasons why they have so much traction.
Undoubtedly the most popular duck breed in the US, meat from the Pekin is tender and has a mild flavor that makes it compatible with a wide variety of meals. In terms of both appearance and flavor, Pekins are considerably lighter than other common duck breeds.
Also known as the White Pekin or the American Pekin, this duck breed originated in China. The Pekin has more protein and less fat than other ducks, and it is the perfect breed if you want to roast a duck whole. The Pekin is also well-known as the fastest-growing duck breed, reaching 90% of its adult size after just 7 weeks of age.
Remarkably, Pekin hens can lay around 200 eggs in a year, marking their spot as one of the best dual-purpose duck breeds.
The Muscovy duck has a lot less fat and a larger breast than the Pekin duck, but its meat is more distinguished for its appearance, having a deep red color. The flavor of the Muscovy duck is also noteworthy and it is often compared to roast beef because of its taste and to veal because of its delicate texture.
An average Muscovy duck has a greater meat-to-bone ratio than most other duck breeds, making it more costly than its counterparts. Another common name for the Muscovy duck is the Barbary (or Barbarie) and it is excellent if you are targeting a duck breed with a strong taste.
When it comes to duck breeds raised for their tasty liver, the Moulard stands out, and it is the best choice for making a foie gras dish. The Moulard also has a larger breast and a higher fat content than the Pekin, and its meat has a distinct red appearance.
The Moulard is not an original duck breed on its own but is rather a crossbreed between a male Muscovy and a female Pekin. Being a hybrid, the Moulard boasts of the best features from both of its origin breeds, making it an ideal duck breed to raise for meat.
Named after a city in France with the same name, the Rouen duck is known for its plump, impressive size, and it looks even better when roasted and placed on a dinner table. The Rouen does not compromise on taste either, as its red meat is appealing and gains more flavor as the duck ages.
Rouen ducks do not grow very fast like Pekins but raising them is less stressful because they are known for being calm, quiet, and easily tamed. Rouens are not great at producing eggs. They reach slaughtering age pretty late at around 18 months. Nonetheless, their taste is outstanding. In fact, in French cooking, Rouen is considered one of the best duck breeds.
The Aylesbury is a large, edible duck breed, giving you over 11 lbs (5 kg) of great-tasting flesh. The meat gotten from Aylesbury is tender and soft, and beneath its pale appearance is a unique, gamey flavor.
Similar in appearance to the White Pekin, the Aylesbury has distinct white feathers and it is one of the more common duck breeds in England.
Probably the most unique breed on this list, the Cayuga is a domesticated duck of American origin, and its meat has a strong flavor similar to beef. The meat has a deep red color and a fine texture. Also, the Cayuga has amazing greenish-black feathers that make it outstanding.
The Cayuga duck can alternatively be used as a source of duck eggs, as a hen can lay up to 150 eggs in a year. Early in the season, eggs laid by a Cayuga hen are often dark, with colors ranging from grey to charcoal black.
One of the less popular duck breeds for meat, the Swedish duck does not only taste very nice, but it has an appealing flavor that gets more pronounced as the bird gets older. This duck breed is also called the Swedish Blue or Blue Swedish, and it can weigh up to 8.8 lbs (4 kg).
The Magpie is an English bird, and its meat is delicate and tastes so good that it is considered to be gourmet quality. Unfortunately, this duck breed is quite small, but every single bite is worth it, and its meat can feed two or three adults.
Last on our list is the Ancona duck, and it grows faster than many other ducks while maintaining moist, tasty meat. The Ancona’s meat also has less fat than Pekins and they can grow up to 6.5 lbs (3 kg).
Impressively, the Ancona is prominent for being a dual-purpose duck. Apart from its great-tasting meat, the Ancona is also prolific at laying eggs, as a healthy hen can lay anything between 240 and 280 eggs in a single year.
What Makes A Duck Breed Fit For Raising For Meat?
The most critical factors that make a duck breed fit for raising for meat are the taste, full-grown size, fat content, and the speed at which they grow.
When considering whether you should raise a particular duck breed for meat, the first and most obvious factor to note is the taste and flavor of that breed’s meat. Some duck breeds are more appealing to the taste buds than others and their meat is more colorful.
For instance, the Muscovy and Moulard ducks have some of the finest tasting meat, including their liver. Also, one feature that can affect a duck’s taste is the amount of fat it contains.
The size of a duck breed is another important factor to consider when you want to rear them since the larger a duck is, the more meat it often has. Different duck breeds have varying sizes when they reach adulthood. Again, the Muscovy duck is one of the largest, as the drakes can get as heavy as 17 lbs (8 kg).
Finally, you should take note of the speed at which a duck grows, since this will determine how long you will have to feed them before harvesting. The Pekin duck breed is, without a doubt, the fastest-growing, as it can be harvested as early as 7 weeks old.
What Parts Of The Duck Do We Eat?
The major parts of the duck that we eat are the meat, the skin, and on the interior, the liver. The eggs laid by ducks are also commonly eaten.
Just like chickens, when eating ducks, not a lot goes to waste. The meat of a duck is the most important part, and it varies in taste depending on the duck breed. Duck skin contains a lot of fat, making it edible and nice-tasting.
When it comes to internal parts, the duck’s liver has an outstanding flavor and is eaten in many parts of the world. In fact, Foie Gras is a popular French meal, and it is made from the liver of a duck or a goose.
Another notable food product gotten from ducks is the egg. Some breeds like the Campbell, Runner, and the Welsh Harlequin can lay over 300 eggs yearly. In addition, there are dual-purpose duck breeds such as the Ancona, Pekin, and Cayuga that have sweet-tasting meat and also lay a large number of eggs per year.