Thinking of raising a few ducks but would like a little bit more information about what you are getting into?
In this article I will share with you my experience with raising ducks and give you the straight story on what you should (and should not) expect.
The cost to raise a Pekin duck from duckling to 2 months is between $9.50 and $11.50 per duckling, depending upon the cost of the feed you choose.
We have had ducks for ages, the first ones we bought were Blue Swedish, since they are a nice dual purpose duck that is pretty self sufficient.
We raise Saxony ducks now, and have raised a few Call ducks, some mixes and quite a few Pekins.
At one time, last summer, I had 150 of them, just Pekins, in the brooder!
I love how fast growing Pekins are and how hardy ducklings are compared to most other young poultry.
I do have to admit that Pekins are more nervous than most ducks and seem to do more quacking than other breeds.
If you are looking for other duck breed choices, read 16 Breeds Of Ducks For Eggs And Meat.
But no other breed beats them for fast growth, it’s not even close!
I had purchased some Rouens, Pekins and Khaki Campbells earlier this year, all in one batch, one of the local farm stores was having a sale on the older ducklings, so I got a variety pack.
They were all in the same brooder and on the same feed and were at most a day or two apart in age and the difference in growth was amazing.
At first the Rouens looked to be keeping pace with the Pekins but as soon as you picked up one of each to compare, the difference was obvious.
If you want the fastest growing ducklings, get Pekins!
Read my article Is Raising Ducks For Meat Worth It? for more details.
All ducklings will grow well for you and all ducklings will be potential meat birds when they are full size.
The only differences are how long do you want to wait for them to reach full size and how meaty of a carcass are you looking to get?
To be clear:
1. There will also be a bit of a taste difference in the slower growing breeds, since older animals have more flavor. (This would also apply to an older Pekin if you would decide to keep them longer.)
2. The other difference taste wise is the Muscovy. The Muscovy duck has a completely different flavor than any other duck we have eaten. Muscovy tastes more along the lines of beef than other ducks.
Cost of the duckling is $7.00 each
Cost to purchase the ducklings: $7.00 each
I’ve paid anywhere from $1.00 each (I was in the right place at the right time) to $3.20 (bulk order).
The cost of the ducklings is one of the biggest variables in this project. A normal everyday price for Pekin ducklings seems to stay around the $7 mark for small orders.
Most places will give you a lower price per bird if you buy more than a few at a time.
I have purchased ducklings for $3.20 each, which was a bulk price discount (that only applied to orders of 100 birds or more), down to a wow-was-I-lucky-to-find-them $1 each.
This was from a feed store just wanting to get rid of the last few that didn’t sell well.
Another time these $1.00 ducks were older duckling were being replaced with new still small ducklings that are still in the super cute stage.
This was the real steal-these ducklings were over 2 weeks old and only $1.00. When I go them home they didn’t need a heat lamp at all!
And they were taken care of and fed for me for over two weeks!
Don’t count on finding the $1.00 ducklings. They are a you got lucky thing, not a normal everyday price.
If you are willing to wait and take a chance on getting none, then wait for the ducklings at the store to get older. However, if they are popular they will be gone.
If they are picked up by another bargain shopper as soon as the $1.00 each sign goes up, they will be gone.
To be sure you will have ducklings, order them rather than hoping to come across a bargain.
If I were to order them from the local hatchery they cost $6.89 each and have to be shipped in, since our local hatchery does not hatch waterfowl in house.
In the spring, many farm stores have chick days where they get in chicks and ducks (so you will buy your feed and other supplies from them throughout the project).
The most common duck price I see here is $7 each.
For me $7.00 per duckling is more than I am willing to spend per bird.
I always buy in larger amounts to get a lower price per bird. You should do what works for you.
If this is your first time raising ducks, start small and pay the higher price per bird. Once you know what you are doing then think about larger orders.
Cost of feed is $2.50-4.40 per duckling
Cost of feed: $2.50-$4.50 per duckling
Feed will cost $18.00 per 50 pound bag at your local feed store. You can always ship in the feed, but wow is that the expensive way to go!
If you have an actual feed mill where they grind their own feed, get your duck feed there. It usually comes in bigger bags, like 100 pounds, but the price per pound is just over half of the 50 pound bag price.
Most people would be feeding a chicken feed to their ducks. We do this all the time, just make sure it is non medicated and made for broilers.
Broilers are the fastest growing chickens and their feed will have the higher protein needed for your fast growing Pekins.
If you plan to butcher your ducks at 8 weeks then you should plan on having them eat 12.5 pounds of feed each, for a total feed cost per bird of $2.50-$4.50.
Here’s the math:
Ducks eat 2.5 pounds of feed to gain 1 pound of weight and we are looking for a finishing weight of 5 pounds.
2.5 pounds of feed x 5 pounds of gain=12.5 pounds of feed eaten per duck
Purchasing your feed at the farm store costs more
If you are getting the feed at the farm store you’ll pay $18.00 per 50 pound bag which equals $0.36 per pound.
$0.36 per pound of feed x 12.5= $4.50 feed cost for 50 pound bags of feed
Purchasing your feed at a feed mill is a deal
If you are getting the feed at a feed mill you will pay $20.00 for a 100 pound bag which equals $0.20 per pound.
$0.20 per pound of feed x 12.5=$2.50 feed cost for 100 feed mill feed
Duckling need feeders, waterers and a brooder area
|Brooder||variable||use a space you already have,|
secured for ducklings
|feeder-small size||$5.00||must be short sided, |
chick size is great
|waterer-small size||$5.00||must be short sided|
no smaller than 1 gallon
|heat source||$20.00||ducklings need heat |
for first 2-3 weeks
|bedding||$5.00||helps keep brooder |
dry and warm
|feeder-larger size||$15.00||more capacity so they have |
feed all day
|waterer-larger size||$15.00||more volume=you refill |
waterer one time/day
vs. many times/day
|bedding||$5.00||more bedding needed when|
ducks can spill the water
|fencing||variable||need perimeter fence to keep |
ducks on your property
To raise your ducks you will need to have a brooder set up, including a heat source, feed and a feeder, a waterer and bedding material, like straw or wood shavings.
Once the ducklings do not need heat any more, at 2-3 weeks depending upon the weather, they will still need a pen of some sort and a feeder and a waterer.
The good news is that a lot of the equipment needed for ducks you will already have if you have raised other birds before.
Do I have to buy all this stuff new?
Once the ducklings are a bit bigger they can be fed and watered out of any pan that will hold the feed or water, it doesn’t need to be purchased new.
However, the new feeders and waterers will save you messiness and wasted feed. The feeders and waterers will also last for quite a few batches of poultry, ducks or otherwise.
If you are going to keep raising poultry, buy the right equipment as soon as you can to save yourself hassle later.
Caution-ducklings can drown in water!
A caution on water-even though the ducklings love to be in water they can drown! I know this sounds outrageous, but it is true!
Don’t give ducklings access to swimming until they are full size.
If you must give the ducklings water to swim in, wait until they have their feathers and make sure if they can get in the water they can very easily get out.
Emphasis on very easily, as in idiot proof.
Ducklings are great at getting into problems but poor at getting out of problems.
Set up your duck pen to eliminate problems or you will, sooner or later, come home to dead ducklings.
Cost of butchering ducks is $9.50 each
Cost of butchering: $9.50 per duck
We paid for some ducks to be processed last summer. This is where things can get costly if you are paying for processing.
The processing, which was the whole bird in a bag, boxed up and frozen for pick up was $9.50 per bird.
Of course, this does not include gas to and from the processor, twice, or my time, just what I paid them.
I paid to have 10 of our Pekins processed in a state approved facility. The processor is a family operation that mostly does birds and is an hour away from us.
I saw broilers, turkeys and other ducks there when I dropped mine off.
They did a beautiful job with the packaging, it looks neat and tidy and has the weight listed right on the bag.
The part I was not super happy with was that while the birds looked good, they didn’t look great. They still had pin feathers.
While these feathers don’t bother me, they would not be okay to a customer who expects to just stick the bird right in the pan, no prep work needed.
You can butcher your own ducks
Normally, we butcher our own ducks. It really doesn’t take that long and can be done as needed, so they don’t hog a ton of space in the freezer.
Of course, you need to wait a day to cook the duck, the same with all poultry.
The big time suck with ducks is the feathers. We just use a water bath and a plucker.
Keep dipping the carcass in the hot water then plucking out the feathers. It takes more time to pluck a duck than a chicken but can be done in your backyard with normal everyday kitchen items.
We use the plucker because we have it, it’s not mandatory.
Actually, the big difference in time for plucking is in getting the scald correct, then the feathers come out pretty easily.
Raising ducks for meat can be very economical or more money than you had planned on spending if you have to purchase everything new and you plan to pay for processing.
If you can source your equipment used or use items you have then the cost of raising ducks goes down quite a bit.
Want to save more money? Learn to butcher yourself. It’s not hard, uses everyday stuff and will really reduce your costs for raising your own meat.
A great site for duck information is Metzer Farms, they are a hatchery but this is a link to their blog articles. Click around, this is useful from folks who are actually raising ducks!