Ducks and geese are normally more difficult to process than
chickens or turkeys because they have more down and feathers.
Following are some commonly asked questions. For more detailed
information on butchering and processing, there is a complete
chapter on the topic in both Raising the Home Duck Flock and
The Book of Geese, which we sell.
If you have any suggestions or hints for processing waterfowl,
please do not hesitate to contact us.
Plucking versus skinning? If you have
older, mature birds or birds in the middle of a molt, you may
want to consider skinning them to harvest the meat. If you want
a pretty carcass and the skin to keep it moist during cooking,
the birds must be plucked.
Wet versus dry plucking? Dry plucking
can be done but is normally more difficult. Wet plucking involves
immersing the dead bird in water that is about 150 degrees Fahrenheit
for 3-5 minutes. As you want the water to get down to the skin,
it is best to add a bit of detergent to the water to cut through
the oil in the feathers. You also need to raise and lower the
bird in the water to ensure the bird is completely soaked. If
the feathers are still difficult to remove, soak them longer
in the water. Soaking too long, however, partially cooks the
skin making it more susceptible to tearing.
Where can I get processing equipment? Ashley
Brower Equipment 319-469-4141
What is the best age to process? As
waterfowl have so many feathers, you want to pluck them when
it is the easiest to get them all out. This is when the feathers
are all mature and there are no pin (or immature) feathers. For
ducks this is at about 7, 12.5 or 18 weeks of age. For geese
it is normally at 9, 15 or 20 weeks of age. If you try to process
between these "windows of opportunity" you will encounter
large numbers of pin feathers that may double or triple your
processing time and effort.