In your opinion - ducks or rabbits for 1st meat animal?

Bethanial

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I know there was a similar thread awhile back, but it focused on ALL the critters for meat, whereas I've narrowed down my choice to either ducks or rabbits for my first ever meat animals. And I do realize this is everybody's opinion, but I figure with a bunch of ya piping in, I'll get some good info ;) And can then make an informed choice.

I eventually want lots of critter variety - ducks, rabbits, chickens, goats - but I know I need to start out slowly, and one at a time. So, whatever advice/opinions you have, I'm all ears!
 

miss_thenorth

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Pros for ducks.

can free range, so will eat bugs and grasses, lessening the amoun to ffeed you need to give them.
easy to care for
gives eggs and their eggs are delish-- my kids prefer them to chicken eggs

reproduce without intervention, and you get to decide whether to hatch out eggs. Can live with your chickens
Don't get sick (well they can, but not likely)
Their meat is delish (scovies only, I don;t like other duck)
The duck fat is awesome!!

Cons for ducks.
Their poops are huge, stinky and they insist on deficating on your patio.

Pros for rabbits
taste good, but not as good as duck
cheap meat to raise
can be rasied in small spaces if not alot of land.

Cons for rabbits


I don;t like them living cages, ( I did it for three years) now I tractor mine.)
My experience is they get sick more easily--ear mites, cocci, and my sil is dealing with wry neck right now) IDK if this lessens by being freeranged, we'll see.
You have to breed them by taking the doe to the buck, if your does are not friendly, they can and will bite.
If living in cages, they tend to be messy

Processing is comparable, but just don't pluck a duck if it is in , near, or finishing a moult. Then those feathers will not come out!!
 

Beekissed

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Both are hard to kill in their own way. Ducks have thick necks that are hard to chop and they also have more personality than chickens, so it's easier to have favorites or pets.

Rabbits are hard to kill because of the stuffed animal factor...they look like stuffed animals and it's really hard to bash them in the head or slit their throats.

I've killed and eaten both and, if I had to choose the meat taste and quality, rabbits would win. They also are more proliferant, easier and cleaner to keep, in cages so less prone to predation and most of them don't have much personality....so it is easier to kill them in that respect.

Also cheaper and less labor intensive, in the long run, to buy, keep and feed rabbits.
 

miss_thenorth

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I guess you would have to taste both to find out, I prefer duck hands down. I found rabbits in cages messy, more labour intensive and yes they do have a personality. ducks are more independent, therefore not as much work, you just need to deal with their poop, either keep them in an area, or learn to live with splotches on your patio.
 

patandchickens

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I think before deciding to go the rabbit route, you really REALLY should buy one (1) meat-type rabbit and slaughter and eat it. It seems pretty common for people to *figure* they will be okay with it, but then when it comes to do the actual wringing or chopping with those big shoebutton eyes lookin' up at you, a lot of people lose their enthusiasm for meat rabbits. It would be better to determine which category you fall into BEFORE sinking a buncha money and time into a buncha rabbits ;)

(And, are you sure you don't want to consider turkeys though? You get a WHOLE lot more meat per slaughter. They're easy to keep (and not all nasty like people always say, that is only if you keep them in industrially-crowded conditions) and if you get "real" turkeys not the commercial broadbreasted ones you can breed them yourself pretty easily.)


Pat
 

Wifezilla

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One good reason to have ducks over rabbits...

a duck can't bite your finger tip off! My brother is missing a finger tip due to an ill tempered buck.

I also have a scar on my stomach from getting scratched by a rabbit. Even though ducks have claws, they aren't nearly as long and sharp as a rabbits.
 

FarmerChick

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for me it would come down to what food do I like best.

I take it you have eaten both rabbit and duck.

which do you prefer as the tastiest food to cook? Which does the family prefer? that would be my deciding factor for sure.

for me I like both meats...I eat both and like both alot.

but I hate ducks (fowl or poultry of any kind) and seriously I hate raising rabbits cause I had a few, hate the mess and cages and they are hard to kill for me lol they do look like that stuffed bunny at Easter lol


I trade my sausage from my hogs for rabbit all the time. Duck I have not yet found someone to trade with, and want my hubby to start hunting ducks lol

of course if you have the space---get 2 small rabbits to raise to meat, get 2 small ducks to raise to meat and butcher them and freeze them.

you don't have to have alot of either.....just get 2 or 3 and eat what you want and see how hard or easy it was to raise both. might help ya decide
 

Bethanial

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Thanks for the info - please keep it coming!

Anybody else with a preference for "Muscovy only" duck meat? And how is the duck fat a pro? As in - what do I do with it?

I do eventually want turkeys, also. But for a 1st meat animal, I'd think staying small would be in my best interest.

Space isn't an issue; am considering a tractor-type gizmo for when I get rabbits.
 

Wifezilla

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Rabbits are very lean. It gives you protein, but without fat, you need to get it from other sources. With duck you get protein and fat. Fat is your most important nutritional component. 60-65% of your calories per day should be coming from natural fats.

So with ducks, you wont have to worry about an additional fat source. The duck fat can be used for cooking greens or frying. Without fat, your body will not absorb nutrients from the greens.

If you have your own cow or goats, you have an auxiliary fat source so no worries. If you don't, ducks might be a better bet.

For more info on fats...

The Soft Science of Dietary Fat by Gary Taubes...
http://www.mail-archive.com/silver-list@eskimo.com/msg46052.html
http://www.mail-archive.com/silver-list@eskimo.com/msg46053.html

Know Your Fats by Sally Fallon
http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/561-know-your-fats-introduction.html

Barry Groves...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3230846/Healthy-food-Should-we-be-eating-more-fat.html
http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/doctors_sued.html
(on this one you want to read his reply to the posted article)
 

lwheelr

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If you get ducks, I do recommend Muscovies. They are very good foragers, good reproducers, and they yield about twice the meat of other ducks (better meat, too). They require less water than most ducks - a round rubber tub is sufficient, and easier to get ice out of than a rigid tub. And they are QUIET - our neighbors don't even know they are there. Yeah, I like my Scovies.

We have both. Rabbits are harder to butcher. I mean just physically harder for us to slaughter than the ducks (more legs, thicker neck - harder to break or cut). Our rabbits are fairly good sized, which makes it more difficult.

We also had problems getting the rabbits to breed (who'd figure?). Both ours, and the neighbor's rabbits just would not. Our females must have been feminists, they'd stomp and threaten the males any time we put the does into the buck's cage. The buck would cower in the corner after a while of trying and getting nowhere. Finally our neighbor's buck bred our Flemish Giant doe, and we now have eight bunnies. Took months to get there though - the feminists ended up in the stew pot (we did warn them, and gave them plenty of chances!).

Rabbits tend to breed year round if you keep them relatively comfortable (temperature-wise). Ducks breed seasonally.

Rabbits are more food - efficient, but don't forage as much. Ducks require more food to produce the meat - some people say they waste a lot, but ours eat what they scatter, so there is very little waste, and in the summer months, they eat a lot of weeds and bugs (keeps the mosquitoes and flies down - a VERY noticeable difference). They need much less feed in the summer than they do in winter.

Ducks can run loose in your yard, but they WILL cluster and poop where you don't want them to. Ours seem to prefer doorways - the yard gate, the garage door, the goat pen gate, etc. Wherever we need to walk, they like to rest, and hence, to the bulk of their messing.

Rabbits require cages. This means cost. Each cage and set of equipment will cost you about $25 to $100, depending on how you do it (pre-built versus building them yourself, racks versus individual cages, cage size, kind of feeders/waterers, etc). We built cages the first time from wire refrigerator shelves, salvaged lumber, and salvaged chicken wire, but still had some cost involved, and it was very labor intensive. We now have a cage design that is as easy as it gets (ask if you need it - works for rabbits, chickens, quail, etc), but it is still work, and the cost is still significant.

Every time you get more rabbits, you must also get more cages. You need, at least, 1 cage per breeding doe, 1 cage per breeding buck, 1 cage for growing butcher does, 1 cage for growing butcher bucks (you really don't want to put them together after 2 months of age, some can breed unexpectedly early). If you have more than one breeding doe, you may need two doe grow-out cages, and two buck grow-out cages. If you want to grow a herd, you have to get another cage for each new breeding age doe or buck. You'll need water dishes or bottles, feed dishes or hangers, hay racks, and nest boxes. We use dollar store water and feed dishes, and we cut and bend our own hay racks from caging wire. Some of our cages have built in (closable) nest boxes, some do not.

Rabbits can go outdoors in warmer climates, need to be indoors in cold climates if you want year-round breeding.

Ducks pretty much stay outdoors, but do need shelter, especially in cold climates - their feet can freeze. We've had days in a row of sub-zero weather, plus wind chills of 30 degrees or more, and our ducks have not suffered frostbite, though I can't figure out why not - they are outside with very little shelter at the moment (we've provided, they just won't use it). Some people use doghouses, others a coop with a little bigger door.

Either Muscovy or rabbits will produce a LOT of offspring. Probably comparable over a year, though a rabbit has 4-6 litters a year, with 5-10 bunnies, a duck has 2-4 clutches a year, with 8-20 ducklings (depends partly on your climate).

If you clip the wing flight feathers on your Muscovies, a short 3 ft high wire dog pen fence will keep them in nicely. Ducks learn to herd well, so you can pen them up at night, let them out in the daytime, which contains the mess better.

Rabbits produce white meat, ducks produce red meat. Between the two, you can have a nice well-rounded meat compliment.

Rabbits produce tannable hide, ducks produce down. Either one is work.

Would you rather pluck, or skin? Skinning is easier - so much so, that we skin the ducks, since we never roast them anyway.

I think that ducks hold "on the hoof" better than rabbits. If rabbits get overaged, they seem to get tough quicker. We've had ducks that were years old, and were no tougher than the younger ones. Also, since ducks run outside, you can let them run until you can butcher. Pen holding is flexible, a few more or less either way won't matter. If you hold rabbits longer, you need additional caging.

If we stop one or the other, we'll stop rabbits before we stop ducks. Again, mostly personal preference there. Both are difficult emotionally to butcher - we mourn a bit each time we do (and I think it is right that we do). But the animals are serving a noble purpose, in nourishing us so we can do good. Both of them helped to literally save my life, so I appreciate them.

Ducks also produce eggs, and even the Easter Bunny can't do that. Egg production is mostly seasonal, unless you provide warm, lighted winter conditions for layer ducks (layer ducks specifically - Indian Runners, Khaki Cambells, Welsh Harlequins, Magpies - are bred to lay eggs year-round, and do not generally go broody). Of course, the eggs you eat reduce the reproduction of your ducks, but at the rate they multiply, by the second year, that may be a serious advantage! :)

We actually plan on getting Harlequins and Magpies in the spring, for egg layers. We'll brood their eggs under the Muscovies to increase their numbers enough to get good egg production. We'll just use the Muscovies for meat and brooders (they reputedly will brood anything, and are good mamas).

Both are fun, personable animals. Bunnies are very cute, and so are ducklings. The advice about making sure you CAN butcher them is good advice. You can pick up a grown meat rabbit for about $5, and often can find a grown duck for about $10. Worth buying the kind you want to get, butcher, sample, etc. Try on for size. You can keep either one in a pet carrier for 24 hours or so.

You are where I was 5 months ago. It is a fun place to be. Good luck with it! :)
 
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