What Age Are Ducks Slaughtered For Meat?

Duck is a popular meat in Asian cuisine and has a long history in British food. It is popular in some areas of the USA. Farming ducks for meat is suitable for both homesteaders and commercial farms. Ducklings can be bought at varying ages, and they are slaughtered for meat when they reach the appropriate weight. 

Ducks are slaughtered anywhere between 8 to 16 weeks depending on the duck breed. Many factors can affect this time frame including feeding regime, feather growth, size of duck, desired tenderness, and meat flavor. Pekin ducks are most commonly used as meat ducks and are ready for slaughter at 8 weeks

It is crucial to decide what breed of duck you wish to keep and how fast you want them to grow to slaughter age. Fast growers and slow growers require differing amounts of care. 

Duck BreedSlaughter AgeWeight
Pekin8 Weeks6.5 lbs (3 kgs)
Jumbo Pekin12 Weeks9.5 lbs (4.3 kgs)
Muscovy13 Weeks10 lbs (4.4 kgs)
Rouen16 Weeks5.5 lbs (2.5 kgs)
Swedish Blue/Black16 Weeks6.5 lbs (3 kgs)
Saxony 10 Weeks6.5-7.75 lbs (3-3.5 kgs)
Silver Appleyard9 Weeks6.6 lbs (3 kgs)
Ancona8 Weeks8 lbs (3.6 kgs)
Aylesbury7-9 Weeks5 lbs (2.3 kgs)

The time it takes to raise a duck for slaughter is much less than the time it to raise a turkey. If you are interested in raising turkeys check out my article, How Long Does It Take To Raise A Turkey?

What Is The Usual Age To Slaughter Pekin Ducks?

The most commonly kept ducks are Pekin ducks. They originated from China and were imported to Britain in 1872. Since then, farmers have developed the breed to form the fast-growing breed that it is today. 

With optimal feeding and care, Pekin ducks are usually ready for slaughter at 8 weeks of age when they reach their maximum size and weight. They must be fed duck pellets that contain twenty-two percent protein. The food should be available at all times for the ducklings. At eight weeks, most ducks will weigh approximately 6.5 pounds (3 kg).

Jumbo Pekins are a selectively bred Pekin ducks that grow much larger than regular Pekins. They are generally slaughtered at 12 weeks when they are 9.5 pounds (4.3 kg)

During the first eight weeks, the care of the ducklings is extensive. Initially, they need a heat lamp to provide warmth. The temperature must be carefully maintained as ducklings only get their feathers at seven to eight weeks. 

Male American Pekin duck with other farm animals
ID 230533847 © Tim Bingham | Dreamstime.com

What Age Are Muscovy Ducks Slaughtered?

Muscovy ducks are widely referred to as ducks. In reality, they are genetically different from geese and ducks and are classified as a separate species. They are popular to keep for slaughtering purposes due to their large size.  

There is a marked difference between Muscovy males and females, with males being larger and growing faster. Males are typically slaughtered slightly earlier than females. The average age for slaughter is between 10 to 16 weeks but many duck farmers claim 13 weeks is the ideal balance of flavor and size. At 13 weeks a muscovy will be about 10 lbs (4.4 kgs).

Muscovy ducks are hardy ducks that do not need as much intensive care as Pekins. They are good sitters and hatch ducklings with ease. 

Muscovies have lower fat levels than other ducks, which can be an advantage for people who must consider their fat intake. They are popular as meat ducks due to the mild flavor of the meat. 

The domestic muscovy duck standing in the grass.
ID 36478179 © Lukas Blazek | Dreamstime.com

When Are Other Meat Ducks Slaughtered?

Rouen ducks originated in France and look similar to Mallard ducks, except they are larger and heavier. Their meat is richly flavored and popular with chefs and gastronomists. They have high-quality meat and a high-fat percentage. 

Rouens are typically slaughtered at 4 months and 5.5 lbs (2.5 kgs). Some homesteaders prefer to slaughter only the males and keep the females to hatch eggs for the next season. 

Farmers may prefer to keep their Rouen ducks until they are full size at 8 to 9 pounds (4 kg). This weight is achieved at 12 to 18 months of age.

Swedish Blue and Black ducks are meat ducks classed as easy ducks for beginners to keep and raise. They are not commonly raised as they take a while to reach maturity compared to other breeds. Swedish ducks are ready for slaughter around 16 weeks and 6.5 lbs (3 kgs).

The Aylesbury is another common meat duck. It is very popular in England. Aylesbury ducks are ready to be slaughtered between 7 and 9 weeks and about 5 lbs (2.3 kgs).

Saxony, Silver Appleyard, and Ancona are all dual-purpose ducks that are relatively hardy and need minimal management. They provide both meat and eggs and can be slaughtered when they reach the desired size. 

Saxony ducks typically reach slaughter size around 10 weeks when they are 6.5 lbs (3 kgs) for females and 7.75 lbs (3.5 kgs) for males.

Silver Appleyard ducks are ready to be butchered after 9 weeks. At this time they weigh roughly 6.6 lbs (3 kgs).

The Ancona duck takes 8 weeks to reach butchering size which is around 8 lbs (3.6 kgs)

What Factors Determine The Correct Time To Slaughter Ducks?

The choice of when to slaughter the duck is decided by considering growth rate, food input, tenderness of the meat, and plucking ease. 

Feeding the ducks on farmland
ID 61837452 © Mruenrom | Dreamstime.com

The Balance Between Food Input And Duck Growth

Most farmers or homesteaders must consider the financial implication of raising ducks. This includes the price of feeding the duck, the associated growth rate, and the correct time to slaughter the birds. 

The ideal time to slaughter is when the majority of the adult size and weight has been attained, and further growth and weight gain have slowed down. Rather than incurring the cost of additional feed for minimal gain, the farmer may choose to slaughter at this stage.

You may have questions about how often you should be feeding your ducks. Find all the answers in my article How Often To Feed Ducks?

When Is Duck Meat Most Tender?

Some people emphasize the tenderness of the meat and will slaughter according to this parameter. Generally, meat is more tender in young ducks. The meat becomes tougher as the duck matures and uses muscles to move around. 

Younger ducks often have a less intense flavor which is preferable to some consumers. Others prefer the richer, intense flavor of more mature birds. The slaughter of ducks may be individualized according to the farmer’s preference and the market they supply. 

How Does Plucking Affect Timing In Slaughtering Ducks?

Ducks are more difficult to pluck than chickens. The task is made more challenging due to the fact that they have both down and feathers. Plucking is easiest when there are no pin feathers present. 

Pin feathers are immature feathers on ducks and are more complicated to remove from the skin than adult feathers. Plucking is done either by hand or using various machines which grasp the feathers and pull them out of the skin. This is not easily done with pin feathers. 

Ducks grow their feathers in cycles, and as a result, it is essential to choose a slaughter time when there are no immature feathers on the birds. Duck farmers know that the ducks can be slaughtered at 7 weeks, 12 weeks, and 18 weeks.  

Final Thoughts

The slaughter age of ducks varies according to their breed, which affects growth rates. The economics of the duck farming operation are considered as well as the market to which the supplier is selling. Ducks can be slaughtered between eight weeks and eighteen months. 

Dane McManis

Dane started learning about farming while volunteering on a farm. Now he and his wife raise chickens, pigs, and ducks on their small farm with their two little girls.

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