Raising ducks and geese can be rewarding — in many ways. They’re social animals that play out a backyard soap opera on a daily basis. Many species of ducks produce just as many eggs as your average chicken, but they’re much larger and richer than chicken eggs.
They’re also generally excellent, devoted mothers, and if you’re not careful a single duck can raise two clutches of 12-16 babies in a single year. That leaves you with a common duck owner problem: overpopulation. An overpopulation of ducks can be quite the blessing if you’re prepared to harvest the rich, beef-like meat from your home duck flock, with the added benefit of harvesting insulating feathers for homemade down pillows, blankets and jackets.
The trickiest part about harvesting water birds is the plucking. When plucking chickens, most people scald the birds in 145-degree water to cause the base of the feathers to loosen, allowing them to be easily hand plucked without much effort, or mechanically plucked in a home use drum plucker in about 30 seconds.
Plucking ducks or geese can be a bit more complicated. Their feathers are water-resistant, and they’ve worked hard throughout their life to preen them into an insulated waterproof barrier.