Duck, Goose & Chicken Hatchery

Processing Ducks and Geese

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 Equipment 812-663-2180
Brower Equipment 319-469-4141
Pickwick 800-397-9797

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.