Commercial Duck Meat Farming Guide For Beginners
Commercial duck meat farms are intensive operations similar to chicken meat farms. Ducks are raised in sheds which vary from open-sided naturally ventilated sheds to fully enclosed climate controlled tunnel ventilated houses. Commercial duck meat production is therefore a full-time specialised business requiring significant investment in both time and money.
Whilst the duck meat industry is quite small in comparison to chicken meat production, it is expanding rapidly at a growth rate of 10-15% annually. The Australian industry processes 8 million birds annually and is worth an estimated $100 million.1
This growth, together with increasing domestic and global demand makes duck meat farming an attractive option for those considering entry into this industry.
Breeds used for meat production
The major breeds available for meat production in Australia are Pekin, Muscovy, Aylesbury and Rouen and crosses of these breeds. The Pekin duck (Anas Domesticus) is the predominant breed used for meat production in Australia. Commercial strains of Pekin duck are bred in the United Kingdom and France.
Size of commercial duck farms
The size of commercial farms is typically measured by the number of birds reared at any one time.
Commercial operations vary in size from relatively small farms of 6,000 ducks per batch to large operations with 50,000 to 100,000 ducks per batch. Most current commercial duck farms house between 10,000 to 50,000 birds at a time.
Critical issues when considering commercial duck farming
Similar to chicken meat operations, the capital investment and development costs for duck farming depends on a range of factors, including:
• Land prices;
• Size of the enterprise. This is determined by the number, size and type of sheds (open sided and naturally ventilated or fully enclosed tunnel ventilated sheds);
• Existing infrastructure and services (electricity, gas, water and road/transport services) and any upgrade costs;
• Local council development application requirements. The costs of assessing the potential environmental impacts and preparing a development application will depend on the scale of the operation and the level of constraints for the proposed site. For instance on a relatively large rural property there may be no need to conduct detailed noise assessments;
• Environmental engineering costs associated with constructing the sheds, providing access for trucks, a water supply and other infrastructure. For instance the amount of cut and fill required to level the shed site will be more expensive on a sloping site.
For these reasons it is difficult to provide an accurate indication of enterprise establishment costs. If no major site constraints occur and depending on the size of the enterprise it may require an investment of 2 to 3.5 million dollars.
The potential income will also vary depending on the size of the operation, the contract price negotiated with the processor and the number of batches reared per year. A typical family run duck farming enterprise, housing 10 – 50,000 birds would produce a total of 60 – 300,000 birds a year over 6 batches.
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