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Monday, July 03, 2006

Butchering your ducks

Since tomorrow is the fourth of July I decided to go ahead and post today about what happened on the homestead. . . today. Just a fair warning to you, this post is about butchering a domestic duck. I have changed so much over the years. I was a strict vegan for many, many years, and now I am raising livestock for my own consumption.

We decided that it would be to our advantage to prepare more so this time around. We didn't want to repeat the mistakes that occurred with the roosters. My husband went outside and sharpened s "whacking" knife, while I boiled the water. We are far from being fully prepared though. There are some things that we just can't make and must buy, and that takes time.

Remembering the problems from the past, I set about looking through my books, trying to find the best way to kill a duck. "Chop off it's head" ok, I guess that is the best way. But what of the moving, the thing that caused my husband to break a roosters wing? I found a small passage in one large book that mentions placing two nails into the chopping block and 1 inch apart, leaving some of the nail exposed. I immediately ran outside to tell my husband of this gem of information.

We lucked out today, our nephew was over and he was more than thrilled to be allowed to help. My husband and him went into the chicken coop to catch them a duck. The fishing net was something we saw another chicken wrangler using. He seemed to have a much easier time catching the illusive birds with it, so we decided t employ this idea. As you can see, it worked. And my husband didn't have to chase the Pekings about the yard.

The nails in the chopping block, worked wonderfully. And we were able to do both the ducks with little problems. Though my nephew discovered that ducks are much more active in the throes of death than other birds he was use to hunting. Soon we had two ducks hanging from the tree, allowing them to bleed out.

I have looked in books and on the internet, trying to find out if anyone can tell me how long to allow a bird to bleed before scalding. I have found nothing, no mention to this little bit of info. I assumed that you allowed it to hang until the blood stops dripping. Not so {or is it?} for when I scald the bird, blood will pour out of it. So far that doesn't seem to be a problem, just a mess.

We scalded the ducks for almost a minute. There seems to be a discrepancy from informants about how long one needs to scald a duck. We decided to find a happy medium. {20 quart pot is still not big enough} The water was just a tad too hot to be pleasant as it sloshed up on my hands {can you say second degree burns? I can}

We pulled the tail and wing feathers out first. Then saved the down to wash and dry then use for a pillow. {a small, but comfy pillow} My family soon left me to do this chore. I am not sure how long it took me to clean them, but I can assure you that it took longer than the roosters.

Unfortunately we started this in the early morning and I was soon covered in flies. I did my best to get all the feathers removed. Then shoving the birds into a garbage bag, I ran into the house to finish the job. {I have looked up floor plans for a cleaning room, and have informed my husband that I want one for my birthday if he thinks I am going to continue doing these things}

With the duck in the sink, I made an attempt to remove the pin feathers. This is not an easy job. With my intense impatience I grabbed the duct tape {or would that be duck tape?} and placed it on the duck. It didn't worked. I had really hoped that I might have stumbled upon something. My disappointment reverberated against the kitchen walls. And I went back to plucking by hand, cursing, and mumbling about the things I want for Christmas that would make my life easier {like moving back to the suburbs}

I had to have my husband consult the books about the oil gland. It's in the tail, and that's all I was sure of. None of the books said how big it was or that it isn't just this little slick feathered knob at the tails tip. {I am starting to wonder why I even have these books} I found out that there is more to the gland just under the thick {and I do mean thick} skin. I am not a person known for her patience, and ended up cutting blindly at the tail, removing it as a whole. I lucked out and didn't cut into the gland. That wouldn't have been fun to clean up.

Next came the disemboweling. I still have clear fond memories of the roosters, and I feared for my nose. I braved myself up, knowing full well it had to be done, and that someday this will be second nature. I wasn't about to cut around the vent as the books stated before. I went wider out, away from it. Everything stayed in tact. This thing about simply pulling on the intestines itself and that it will just slide out is pure myth. Don't believe it! It is a lie, something that the old timers have made up just for their own enjoyment. { of course this is purely my opinion. And if I was an old timer I would have a perverse joy about telling someone how to do something incorrectly just to watch them cover themselves in bird manure. They do call it the simple life.} I worked around it, detaching the membrane that kept it in place, and was able to slide the intestines out without any problems.

After gutting and degibletizing {my word, but you may use it} I went for it's neck. It was much tougher to get through then the roosters was. My husband ended up cutting through it while he made fun of me and my weakling status. The trachea was then removed and has been set out to dry. My husband {the wonderful man that he is} has decided that he wants to see if someone was to blow through it, would it make the quacking noise. I will let you know if it works later.

The duck was then washed and pat dry. We wrapped it and placed it in the freezer. We plan on eating roast duck sometime this week.

My father is still here visiting, he decided to sit this little adventure out, the city boy!


Anonymous said...

Thankyou! Yes, I had been told the 'slit around the vent and it will all just pull out' myth. Glad to find some real hands on advice. I don't quite understand what you mean about the nails to hold them still though? Also, when you separate the intestines from the crop, do you have to tie the crop off to stop it leaking?

Phelan said...

The nails, I will need to take a photo. What that is; Two long nails hammered into a piece of thick wood, an inch or so apart. Place the neck of the bird (works with all the pultry I have done so far) between the nails, while the bird is still alive. Once in place, tug lightly back on the legs. This will keep the bird in place, no flopping around. The same thing happens when you put your foot lightly down on the birds head, and pull back.

We didn't tie it off. The first one came out without spilling, the second one did spill, but only after we had already removed it. Ours didn't stink, but some people warn that it will.

Hope that helps. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Hi there -- any chance you could get a bit more "graphic" on how you gutted your duck? I am faced with this chore (plucking, too) and am not quite sure how to go about it! Do you slit from breast to anus and then dig out the guts? Any detailed info would be MOST appreciated!


Feel free to email me: twelvepaws33 at hotmail dot com

Laurie Chase Kruczek said...

You never told us if it quacked when you blew through it LOL

I think doing ducks is MUCH harder than doing chickens. Thanks for more insight.

Phelan said...

Laurie, I guess I didn't. It doesn't some much quack as it sounds like you're strangling a duck. My boys thought it was great, and so did the cat who ended up eating it.

Ducks are slightly harder because of the extra glands. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

hi thanks for the great info i havent been able to find anything as informative as you have described, did you ever find out how long to hang the duck for.

Phelan said...

no one seems to agree on the length of time. I still hang until they stop bleeding. I haven't had any issues with doing it this way

Anonymous said...

Ive butchered all my own livestock most of my life. I slit above the vent, not around stretch the slit open. Work my hand up and around the guts and carefully work them out crop trachea esophagus and all. No myth there just years of practice

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I have processed chickens before, but was looking around the web for some info about ducks to see if I need to do anything differently. I have some Khaki Campbells - my first ducks.

As for the scalding temp/pot size, I have never scalded a chicken - I just hand pick after they have had about 2 minutes to bleed out. (Kill one, hang it to bleed, kill the second and/or third, hang them, then start plucking the first.) If I did more than a couple at a time, I think I might need to scald, but I have never found it necessary.

Geary said...

Saw a little plastic device you screw into the vent and then pull. It's supposed to pull everything out with it. Has anybody tried using that? Does it work?

Mark said...

You say you went wild and just hacked the tail off hoping to miss the oil gland, (something i know nothing of) have we found out just where that is locaded or does it vary from duck to duck? i have 6 ducks to clean this weekend for the first time and wanna do it right.

Phelan said...

Mark, that thing at the tip of the tail all the way to the upper base of the tail is the gland.Cut well away from it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, if after you cut off the head and the bird is ready to do, you can also slide your hand inside the top cavity there and pull the esophagus and crop out carefully, find the spots below the crop and esophagus, and sever both pipes. Then when you pull the innards out from the bottom, nothing is attached as firmly (as you are not pulling on the pipes which are also attached near the neck sides).

You will not get any spillage from stomach contents if you have not given your birds any feed 12-24 hours prior to butchering. It also cuts down on any stray poop coming out during butchering, which IMO makes for a cleaner process overall.

I loved your story about how you went about it! :)

Anonymous said...

I know this is an older post but i had to butcher my first duck to day and it went really well and i discovered something i would like to share:Rubber Horse Face Brush(the lil round ones).I scrubbed the plucked duck with it and it got most if not all those "hairs"and that made the bird appear totally white.I tried a tip on scalding i read somewheres and it worked,just scalded till the skin on feet peel off easily.

Anonymous said...

How long can you wait till you butcher a duck. They get fatter with age but do they get tougher?

fireweenie said...

Thanks i will be doing this soon. Lady told me melt parafin wax... Dunk them init after Most feathers are off. Hang in cold and then pull off. Kind of like a Brazilian for ducks....

Hot Belly Mama said...

We just butchered 25 ducks and fount out after the fact that we were supposed to let them "age" or rest for 3 days before freezing them. Ideally for 7-14 days at 34 degrees. Otherwise they are tough to eat.

We unfortunately threw them in all in the freezer! Is it too late or is there a way to cook them so they will taste good and tender?

Phelan said...

Ducks should be butchered under a year of age, yes they get tougher with ae.

Fireweenie, giggle

Farming mamma, no worries, I didn't age mine before going in the freezer either and they turned out just fine.

here is my favorite duck recipe, Roast duck, non greasy

Anonymous said...

Hi with a duck you parrafin wax in the water for scolding and them lil feathers just peel off

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