Is Raising Your Own Ducks For Meat Worth It?

male Pekin in the grass

Home raised ducks are on the rise! It’s easy to see why ducks are becoming popular, they’re fun to raise, family friendly birds and great to eat.

Ducks are fun (I certainly enjoy having them around!), but do they make money sense? Is raising your own ducks worth the time, effort and money?

Raising a Pekin duckling from day old to 8 weeks will cost $23.79 per duck (cost of duckling + feed + processing) or $14.29 per duck (cost of duckling + feed) if you do the processing yourself.

We’ll go over the costs involved in raising your own ducks and the costs for getting them into the freezer.

16 Duck Breeds For Eggs And Meat will give you an idea of what to expect from each breed, there is even a section on Pekins, which most people don’t realize are a great duck to raise!

If you are looking for the most economical meat animal to raise based on cost per pound of meat in the freezer, read Cheapest Meat Animal To Raise.

Since raising your own duck is will have some costs, I have searched and listed whole duck available for purchase online, to give you a guideline for cost comparison.

Cost of duckling$5.89 each
Cost of feed$16.99 per 40 pounds
or $0.42 per pound
Feed needed per duckling
(day old through 8 weeks)
20 pounds
Total feed cost to raise duck
(day old through 8 weeks)
$8.40 per duck
Cost to process per duck$9.50 per duck
Total cost of home raised duck
(duckling + feed + processing)
$23.79 per duck
Total cost of home raised and butchered duck
(duckling + feed)
$ 14.29 per duck
Cost to purchase dressed duck
(whole oven ready duck 5-6 pounds)
$27.99-36.00 each
Shipping dressed ducknot included here
(location determines cost)
Total cost saved per home raised duck
(processing included)
Total cost saved per home raised and home butchered duck$13.70-21.71
These are prices from commonly available sources. You may be able to spend less on any of these items, especially feed, by searching around your area.

Cost of buying the ducklings

The cost of buying day old Pekin ducklings is $5.38 each straight run and $4.44 each if you get males only.

If you get more than 10 ducklings in your order, the price drops to $4.89 each for straight run and $4.04 for males.

I always get a higher number (10+) of straight run ducklings. Straight run means not sorted, you’ll get a mix of male and female ducklings.

I listed straight run and males only, since these would be the two options that make the most sense for raising meat ducks. These prices are taken from Meyer Hatchery, my local poultry hatchery.

Pekins are the most common meat duck

I use Pekins, since they are the most likely duckling to be raised for meat, but they are certainly not your only option.

Other ducks can be raised for meat, they will just take longer to reach processing size. If you are interested in a different breed, check out this page in the hatchery catalog.

Prices range from $5.38 to $10.80 each for straight run, specific breed ducklings. They have an option for Hatchery Choice ducklings that are $5.22 each, (these ducklings could be any breed listed in the catalog).

Muscovy duck, chocolate and white
Here one of our Muscovy ducks, she is chocolate and white. Some folks love Muscovy duck meat! They are an interesting duck, both in characteristics/behaviors and taste, and will take significantly longer to raise to processing size than a Pekin.

Spring means ducklings for sale at the farm store

Duckling seem to show up in the local farm store a few weeks before Easter, every year. I enjoy looking at them, of course, but sometimes the weather isn’t the greatest. Especially if Easter is early.

When the weather is poor, those ducklings do not sell well. This is a golden opportunity for the bargain minded duckling buyer.

These ducklings will get to be 1.5-2 weeks old and not “cute” any more, so no one buys them. Even at a steeply discounted rate. To me, that doesn’t make any sense!

A 2 week old duck is much easier to care for than a newly hatched duck and it’s 2 weeks of feed and care that you will not need to provide!

For me, these ducks are a steal. The catch is, the farm store might sell out in the first few days, leaving you duckless.

You can hatch your own ducklings

You can hatch your own ducklings. If you just want ducklings, I would not buy hatching eggs from a hatchery. Order the day old ducklings, instead.

If you are willing to give it a shot, look at Metzer Farms hatching eggs.

You can get hatching eggs locally from anyone with a flock of ducks that has males running with the females.

As long as the male to female ratio is low, 1 to 3 for heavy breeds and more like 1 to 5 for lighter breeds, and the eggs are clean (not washed!), unrefrigerated and less than 1 week old.

Look for local ducklings in ads

I notice ducklings available in online ads in the spring. If you don’t see any ducklings, put up an ad that you are looking for some.

You never know what kind of ducks folks in your area might have. You could also put up a notice on the farm store board. Ask, most have one.

Your ducklings will need a brooder area

I did not include a brooder area in the cost of this article. You may have all of the supplies (heat lamp, bedding, feeder, waterer) or you might have none of them. Read more about Brooding Ducklings.

This cost will vary from $0 to around $50 or so if you have to buy multiple items. Everything is reusable, except for the bedding.

female Pekin duck walking in the grass
Another Pekin, this one is a female.

Feed will cost $8.40 per duck

Your ducklings will begin eating starter feed, be sure it is for day old ducklings.

As your ducklings grow, they can be moved to a lower protein feed, which will save you money on feed costs.

If your feed store has starter and grower, be sure to look into switching your ducklings at the appropriate age, which is generally two weeks.

Here’s an article with a great breakdown on duck feed ration protein based on the age of the duckling, Raising Commercial Ducks As A 4-H or FFA Project by UW Extension Educator David R. Laatsch.

Here’s a chart I put together on duck feed rations. If you are interested in mixing up your own feed and are able to economically to source the ingredients.

You can use the same feed formulation from day old duckling to ready to process duck, as long as the instructions say it’s appropriate.

Keeping the feed the same will be less hassle and might be your only option depending upon your available feed choices.

Using the same feed ration will cost you more per duckling to fed them to market weight compared to switching to a less expensive ration.

Ducklings need duck starter feed

The cost of duck feed is $16.99 per 40 pound bag. This works out to $0.42 per pound for your feed.

Be sure the instructions mention newly hatched ducklings, not just adults, since hatchlings have higher nutrient requirements.

When you are figuring up your costs, be sure to use the correct pounds per bag. (This one always gets me, since I normally think 50 pounds per bag.)

If your farm store does not have duck starter (duckling feed) specifically, use unmedicated broiler starter. Only the unmedicated will do, check the bag!

3+ week old duckling need 17.5% feed

As mentioned above, you can keep the feed the same the whole time.

If you have the option to switch as the ducklings grow, it will save you some money per pound on feed costs.

How do you want your ducks to be raised?

If you are looking for special feeding regimens, like organic feed, for your ducklings, they are going to cost more to raise than ducklings raised on conventional feed.

Another increasingly popular concern for feeding meat animals, ducks included, is a soy free diet. It’s doable but tough to make work economically.

Around here the soy free options are near nothing, maybe fish meal. If you are in a peanut growing area, you’ll have access to peanut meal. (I have not used either.)

pair of Pekin ducks
Pair of Pekins roaming around on a wet spring day.

Ducks like to roam around and eat grass

Maybe you want your ducks to have grass. Good news, your ducks will love to eat bugs and such out of your lawn.

The catch here is you’ll need a fence. Nothing extreme, ducks are easy to fence, but you’ll still have to buy it and put it up.

Ducks outside equals predators, have a plan

Anytime your ducks are out grazing, you are attracting predators. Even if you live in the suburbs. Having a few ducks killed by a hungry raccoon so disappointing and costly.

Have a plan here. It could be as simple as putting the ducks inside for the night and letting them out in the mornings.

Your ducklings will need a shelter

Your ducks will need to live somewhere sheltered. It doesn’t have to be much, as long as the ducks can get out of the weather.

As mentioned before, you’ll need a fence. Ducks can wander farther than you would think, don’t go without a fence.

If you have a shed in your yard, section a place off for your ducks. Let them run in and out as they please.

You could also give them a section of your garage. Once the ducks know that you showing up equals food, they’ll come.

To be clear, this is a trained behavior that works because the ducks are comfortable being in the pen and get fed there.

Don’t just turn out your ducks and expect them to “know” where they live at night!

Processing per duck is $9.50 each

To me, this is where raising your own ducks can really hurt your wallet. Processing costs for ducks are high, in our area $9.50 per duck.

Be sure you have this cost figured into your budget.

For us, the closest processor is one hour away. So a batch of ducks takes 4 hours of travel (an hour each down and back to take ducks and again to pick up) plus the $9.50 a bird.

I did that once and won’t be doing it again.

You can process your ducks at home

You can process your own ducks. This is where you can save money over the cost of buying whole duck online or from another duck raiser.

Around here, processing our own ducks knocks nearly $10 each off of the cost of raising ducks for meat.

It’s just like processing broilers, but with more feathers! Seriously, we do our own ducks, one or two at a time with just a hot water scald and hand plucking.

We have a plucker and use it for larger amounts, but for one or two we usually hand pluck.

The secret to plucking success is the scald! Get that right and the feathers come out well, as long as you are processing at 7, 12, or 18 weeks. (No or few pin feathers at these times.)

Compare prices with farm raised duck

Do a quick search online for duck meat, you’ll find some options. (If you just search “duck”, you’ll get ducklings for sale from hatcheries.) Here are the first two results I found for oven ready whole Pekin duck.

This my favorite site to view high quality meat for sale, D’Artagnan, showing their current prices for whole Pekin duck. Normal price is $27.99 for a 5-5.5 pound oven ready duck.

Fossil Farms has a 6 pound oven ready Pekin duck for $36.00.

Be sure to add in shipping costs before you make a final decision to order!

Muscovy duck on a wagon side
One of our Muscovy ducks on top of a wagon, she’s about 8 feet off the ground! I put this picture in for fun. First time Muscovy owners sometimes do not realize how capable a Muscovy duck really is compared to other duck breeds!

You save money raising your ducks

Now we are getting somewhere! After running through all of these numbers we now have enough information to get some totals and decide if raising ducks makes money sense.

Your total cost for feed, duckling and processing is $23.79 each.

$8.40 feed + $5.89 per duckling + $9.50 processing = $23.79

If you are willing to butcher your own ducks you can knock $9.50 off of that total, taking the total cost of your home raised ducks to $14.29 each.

$8.40 feed + $5.89 duckling = $14.29

With a bit of searching online you can find dressed duck for sale, I found prices from $27.99-36.00 each.

Final tally, raise your own ducks

Raising your own ducklings will save you between $4.20-12.21 per duck, if you pay for processing.

If you do your own processing, raising your own ducklings will save you between $13.70-21.71 per duck!

Your Family’s Meat For A Year gives you some options to raise your own meat for the year, some of the combinations have ducks others do not but you can easily substitute them in!

Is the work worth the duck meat?

The totals are in and the budgets will work out. Now it’s down to you. How much is raising your own ducks worth to you?

You need to decide if the money difference if worth the effort and experience. For us, raising our own meat ducks is worth it.

If you are on the fence, give it a shot. It’s hard to explain the feeling of satisfaction you get from cooking a home raised bird, not to mention the freedom you now have to raise your own meat.

rear view showing the width of a Pekin duck. The duck is in the grass walking away from me
Look at how wide this Pekin is, that’s why they are a great meat duck!

We value raising our own ducks

We value the fact that we know where our meat comes from and how the animals were treated, ducks or other meat animals.

This means raising most of our meat ourselves and taking on the responsibility and sometimes extra costs of figuring this out for ourselves.

I am willing to put in time and money and deal with some frustration, frustration always comes with learning!

Our first few home butchering attempts were challenging, we didn’t know what we were doing. Now we are pretty fast and have our system worked out.

Your first few attempts at raising your own ducks will have some challenges. Please don’t let this discourage you, but I don’t want you going in blind, either.

You’ll get better as you learn. If you are willing to take the chance, try it. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll be proficient!

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