Piglets, Finally!

Number 1 farrowed June 18 and her piglets are weaned and ready to go. These are all Bootleg’s piglets too. We’re keeping Pinky and Brownie 3, both male piglets, and the rest can go. Folks here are starting to buy piglets for fattening for Baclayon town fiesta in December. If you’re interested in buying our piglets, please come and visit us. Piglets in our village sell for PhP2,500 each.

Here’s a video of the piglets with Number 1, taken when the piglets were about 6 days old. This is Number 1’s first litter and she has proven to be a wonderful caring mother!


Here’s a video of the piglets enjoying the garden. They are about 3-4 weeks old here, learning to root and forage for the first time.

Their father, Bootleg is half-duroc, and the mother, Number 1, is a mix of Landrace and Large White. There’s probably some Pietrain or Philippine Native Pig mixed in there too. Our attempts at cross-breeding and keeping pigs in natural environment has been quite successful. These pigs are strong and hardy, able to enjoy the outdoors. They are never mutilated (no castrating, ear notching, or tail docking, etc). They are also never injected with antibiotics or supplements. I’ll post more about our pig breeding experiences later.

We hope to have piglets more next time!🙂

Duck Burgers

A few days ago, I got some ground beef and ground pork from the supermarket. I wanted to make some burger patties. They are great served with salad vegetables. Here, the burger patties are served with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onions and grilled red bell peppers.

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The spices and seasonings added to making these patties are:

Flour or oatmeal or bread
Egg, salt, pepper and sugar
Curry powder blend (yellow)
Fresh milk or cream
Dijon mustard
Soy sauce
Minced onion
DIY Nutritional Yeast (instead of MSG)
Phosphate dissolved in water and a bit of salt

Mix with 500 grams of ground pork and 500 grams of ground beef.

Sugar and phosphate should be kept at a minimum (1/2 tsp). You can opt not to use phosphate which may result in a drier meat burger. If you do use phosphate, remember that maximum usage levels in meat products are 0.5% (8 oz per 100 lbs, 500 grams per 100 kg) of your finished products.

Now what is DIY nutritional yeast? “Nutritional Yeast” is available in shops and is often used as an ingredient in cheese-like sauces in vegan dishes. If you cant find it you can make your own. It is simply active dry yeast that was made to rise then cooked until dry in a non-stick pan. The thin crepe-like yeast is then crumbled and kept in a sealed container until use. The taste of “nutritional yeast” is very similar to the unami taste of monosodium glutamate. Therefore it is a great and healthier flavour enhancer.

The result are delicious, tender, juicy burgers! And of course I just had to try making these burgers using duck!

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Pork/Beef Burgers on the left and Duck burgers on the right!

I took out some duck from the confit pot, took the meat off the bones. To this is added the phosphate dissolved in water and placed in a chopper (or blender/food processor). The processed duck meat will look a bit like pùté. Place the processed duck meat and add the rest of the ingredients. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and fry it and taste. Add necessary ingredients to suit your taste.

Place the mixture in the fridge to firm up, then shape into patties and fry. Keep the rest of the patties in the freezer.

The burgers are fantastic! I love them and I’ll make thicker ones to go wth bread. Although the taste of the two different types of burgers are quite similar because of the same spices used, the textures are different. Duck burgers have a more chewy texture, a bit like using corned beef or pulled pork to make burgers. I am thinking that perhaps it is better to chop the meat with a knife rather than mincing them in a food processor. Next time!

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Making Balut from Muscovy Duck Eggs

 

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I finally did it! Made my own balut! A duck hen has been sitting on a nest of eggs and for some reason she decided to push out two eggs. So I took the eggs and tried candling them with a small LED flashlight in a dark room (the bathroom, actually). I saw just next to the air sac what seemed to be large dark areas, the embryo of the egg.

Turning these eggs into balut is easy — just boil them! Hard boiled! Here are the results. Cracked open, they look like balut, smell like balut and taste like balut, delicious! I was wondering of Muscovy duck eggs could be made into balut, since most of what I read say it has to be the mallard. Well, these eggs are good enough!

I think that the main reason why mallards (and pekin ducks) are often used for balut is that the hens are not as broody as the Muscovy duck hen. The Muscovy will try to hatch out ALL her eggs and she will get upset if anybody keeps stealing her eggs!

Anyway, if you’re new to balut, you can learn more about it on Wikipedia! Oh, by the way, don’t look at the photos below if you’re squeamish! 😜

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The Versatile Duck

Since butchering 8 ducks two weeks ago, I’ve been able to explore more duck dishes, certainly, finding the best and most convenient way of cooking duck. Since being busy with sow Number 1 and her piglets, I don’t really have the time to prepare and cook complicated duck dishes.

The most convenient way to keep duck is by cooking and preserving it in oil. The French call it “confit.” Here, the duck fat is rendered and this fat is used to cook and preserve the duck. If not enough fat is produced, it is acceptable to use suitable cooking oil.

The process of making duck confit involves salting the duck with salt and a variety of herbs, keeping that overnight or so, then cooking in oil. In my case, not having the leisure of such preparations, I simply cut up the duck and put it in a pot of coconut oil.

A small amount of aromatic herb is placed in the oil — some thyme, star anise and a bit of laurel leaf. A bit of salt and pepper. And that’s it — the pot is heated up every now and then over the next couple of weeks, adding new duck in as the pot is emptied, keeping the oil and adding extra oil if necessary.

The best thing about this method is that you can take out a bit of duck meat and prepare that in any way you wish. Because the duck has been cooked in oil until tender, it doesn’t take much time to whip out a duck dish.

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Some of the dishes I’ve prepared are these (see photos). The easiest is to get some duck legs or breast and braise that in oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper, or some kashmir chilies. I have also made duck stew with vegetables which has a brown duck sauce base and some potatoes and carrots. Here, the duck meat can be shreds of meat off the backbone, wings and neck.

One of my favourite experiments is “corned duck.” I love corned beef and I really just had to create that same taste and texture with duck meat. I selected duck breast now truly tender from cooking in oil. This meat is flaked and set aside. Next is chop up some onions which will be browned in oil to caramelise. You can add garlic here if you wish. Next, the shredded duck breast is added together with salt, pepper, a bit of sage, a bit of allspice powder and star anise. The result is absolutely fantastic. Duck meat resembles beef and using shredded duck meat with spices commonly used in corned beef or salted beef preparations produce such a remarkable dish. I love the long shreds of duck meat! I only regret that I didn’t have enough duck fat to add to this!

Other ways of cooking duck I’ve tried are: duck curry, duck noodle soup and duck spring rolls. All coming from a pot of duck confit!

So there — over the last 2 weeks we’ve cooked and consumed 4 ducks and served guests as well. We still have 4 more ducks to go and I don’t get tired of eating duck because it can be prepared in a variety of ways. Bon appĂ©tit!

The Retarded Ducklings

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These are 5-week old ducklings and they look horrific. There were 17 of these hatched and as of today there are 5 ducklings left. How can such a thing happen?

Three weeks ago our sow Number 1 farrowed. This meant all of my attention went to Number 1 and her piglets. I also became very busy with the boar Bootleg who became sick and didn’t eat for nearly 5 days. With all of my time devoted to the pigs, I delegated the feeding of ducklings to someone else.

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The result are these. These ducklings were overfed. Their crops expanded bigger than their bodies. These ducklings were also overfed with adult duck food: hog mash with rice hull mixed with chopped banana trunks. Such types of food given at enormous quantities block and damage the crops of these birds. This result to a distorted growth and shape of the ducklings and an appearance that make them look stunted or retarded. Their eyes are sunken and stark as if they were mad.

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A couple of months ago, I was able to salvage a group of ducklings from a similar morbid fate. I saw the signs of overfeeding: blocked crops larger than their bodies, stark look in their eyes, wet and unruly feathers. If not too late, the ducklings may be rescued by changing their feed immediately to one that is easily digestible, for example, a simple pelleted feed base that has at least 14% protein. To help the ducklings unblock their crops, I placed a small basin of sand and water in their pen. Ducks use sand and small rocks to aid in digesting and grinding food in their crops.

However, 12 of these duckling were beyond repair. The remaining 5 don’t look any better. I didn’t see the problem sooner. For some reason, no matter how many times we explain, our caretaker couldn’t quite understand why animals shouldn’t be overfed. Out of a great love for the creatures, she became quite capable of killing them.

So, if you’re keeping ducklings, don’t overfeed them. Ducks are natural gluttons and they will gorge themselves, something which can be fatal to young ducklings.

As they say, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. You can’t go on a holiday.

The Infanticidal Duck

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Several months ago, we decided to buy a pair of coloured ducks. Since all of your ducks are white (with the exception of Twisty which was given to us in exchange for one of our white ones), we thought it would be a good idea to introduce some colour into the flock.

The pair are adults, mature and suitable for breeding. Because of their colour, we call them “Daffy.” They came from a farm similar to ours which allows ducks to open range. We placed them in the duck fattening pen to get them used to the new place and prevent them from escaping and returning to where they came from.

In “captivity”, the pair mated and produced 11 eggs. Before the duck hen sat on the eggs, she took one egg out and broke it. This, in retrospect, was a sign of stress. Something which I should’ve addressed immediately.

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The eggs were laid on the ground, as ducks often prefer, in one corner of the pen. We placed a sack on one side of the pen in order to cover the eggs from view. However, the duck hen and the eggs are visible at the back and side.

When the duck hen sat on the eggs, we took out the drake to prevent him from forcibly mating her. Our alpha drake, Daddy Duck, encountered this new drake, danced along with him and started a fight. The new drake was easily subdued. This ritual, which would take place again in the next couple of days, established the hierarchy in the flock. After such, there was peace and order.

In the meantime, the duck hen dutifully sat on her eggs and I thought it was fine. Until after 35 days when the eggs hatched in the late afternoon, the nightmare would become apparent in the early morning.

I heard cackling noises from the fattening pen, the type of noise made by ducks when they are angry. When I looked, I saw the massacre of ducklings. Two ducklings still inside their eggs were pecked to death, two ducklings were crushed in the nest, five ducklings were found dead outside the pen as if desperately trying to run away from something. I found one duckling still alive, placed it in a box with a heating lamp but it died within a few hours.

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The duck hen, new to the environment, surrounded by unfamiliar people and ducks, was deeply stressed and threatened, prompting her to break one of her eggs and thereafter killing all her ducklings. I am yet to become familiar with signs of stress in ducks and I did not see this until too late.

The duck hen has since been released with her mate and all the other ducks. Both are doing fine. We provide shelter and nesting covers for our ducks and leave it to them to choose where they would like to nest. The drake has sired one duckling as seen in the latest hatchling, and we hope he will have more. The duck hen, in the meantime, has not yet laid new eggs. Perhaps later, in her own time and place.

If the behaviour of breaking eggs and killing ducklings persist, the duck hen will need to be culled.

Duck Tape

This isn’t really about duck tape (not even duct tape). This is about duck rape. I just didn’t want to use that “r” word all over this blog post. I have a feeling search engines will allocate this blog post (or even the entire blog) into that category of No Return. So, when I talk about duck tape, you know what I mean.😉

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One morning, while feeding the ducks, I saw this (above photo) under the house. On the left is a coconut tree stump that ducks use as a nest. Penny covered it with a sack and some pieces of wood for privacy. On the right is a dead duck hen.

I investigated the scene and made the conclusion that this duck hen — mother of 6 eggs in that stump — was a victim of duck tape. Judging from the flattened appearance of the duck hen, I’m not going to assume she was run over by a steamroller. She was run over by a mad drake.

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The first time we encountered something like this was in early 2015. In Do Ducks Know How to Grieve, we actually saw a drake mating with a duck hen and it didn’t look very nice. We assumed it was alright but we were wrong. We culled the drake that killed the hen.

But this time, we ave absolutely no idea who the tapist was. There are two suspects: Daddy Duck and Daffy Duck.

Anyway, tape is supposedly not as common amongst Muscovies as it is amongst mallards. With that, I consider ourselves quite lucky to have only two fatalities in the two years we’ve been breeding ducks. We also cull drakes (they are large and meaty!) to avert violence.

To learn more about this, the following links are provided:

Female Ducks fight back
Some female ducks and geese have evolved complex genitalia to thwart unwelcome mating attempts, according to a new study.

Ducks Are After You
Ducks have a mating ritual scientifically known as “rape flight”, which can involve multiple drakes attacking a single lady-duck, often drowning or pecking her to death. Ducks are not nice.

Man Accused of Taping Duck
A man in Turkey is being accused by his in-laws of an ugly crime.

PS. We transferred the orphan  eggs to another nest and the amazing duck hen hatched out all 17 eggs!

The Duck Butcher

OK, since nobody wants to buy any ducks we decided it is time to slaughter some ducks to reduce the rapidly growing population! Our butcher for today was Bebe, a guy who has a lot of experience as butcher of a variety of animals: chicken, goat, cow, pig and snake. Bebe said that he can slaughter 15 ducks in one day! But for now, we asked him to slaughter 8 ducks. These ducks will be part of our meals over the next several weeks.

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Previously, it was Terry who butchered our ducks. This time having the expert, we learned lots of interesting things — for sure, Bebe is much faster and thus accomplished a very humane way of duck slaughter. He also advises not to put the un-plucked carcass in cold water but rather to put it in boiling water immediately after slaughter. This method ensures that there is no off or overpowering gamey taste in the duck meat.

Bebe’s wife, Penny helped pluck the ducks. This is meticulous work since ducks have very fine feathers. I have also asked Penny to catch the ducks for slaughter, telling her who to slaughter and who NOT to slaughter! Daddy Duck and the best duck hens are not slaughtered, neither Twisty nor the black and brown coloured duck pairs we purchased from another duck farm in a nearby village. It would be horrific if the wrong ducks were slaughtered!

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Lunch and dinner are two version of duck stew with vegetables. I find this to be the best way to cook the less meaty sections of the duck such as the wings, backbone and neck. The legs and breast will be prepared as confit.

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We still have a lot of ducklings — about 17 of them — which will soon be placed in the fattening pen. There are also a good number of ducks laying eggs and duck eggs are large, delicious and nutritious. The fact that ducks are so easy to raise for food makes them a very ideal part of a self-sufficient and self-sustainable homestead.

So if you’re interested in getting some ducks — particularly duckling — just let us know, before they get fattened and butchered in the next couple of months! Duckduck! 😝

For Sale – Muscovy Ducks Breeding Pair (1,000 pesos per pair)

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We have about 5 pairs of ducks ready for dispatch. The male ducks (drakes) are 6 months old and above, mature and already capable of mating. These drakes were also part of our duck fattening program so they are large and meaty birds that will make a fantastic duck stew. But because these drakes grew very quickly, they have “angel wing syndrome”, presented as a deformity of the wing. This does not affect the breeding or genetics of the ducks.

The drakes come with female ducks that are 6 months old and above, some have already laid their first clutch of eggs. So when you buy a breeding pair, you don’t need to wait 6 months to start having eggs and ducklings.

helloduck2If you would like to start your own family of ducks, call or text 0929-8057723 to make an appointment to visit Duckduckbro!

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Turkey Daddy invades the Duckduckbro premises! 😜

What?! Prefer turkey?

Sure! We don’t have them! 😂 But our neighbour does! 😄 She sells turkey chicks at 250 pesos each. When you come and visit, we can check them out.

Rooster-for-Hire

Our neighbour has a large kabir hen. They want to breed it. Someone gave them a native rooster. But the kabir hen was so big that it frightened the rooster.  So our neighbour asked to borrow our rooster. I decided to lend them one of our red native roosters. It was a reasonably large rooster. But the kabir hen intimidated it. Our neighbour asked to borrow our white rooster.

Now this white rooster is My Rooster. It’s a big mature rooster with huge spurs. I agreed to lend my white rooster. Here he is with the kabir hen.

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After several weeks nothing happened. As it turns out, the kabir hen is just too large such that it wasn’t possible for any native rooster to mate with it. What a pity! So now our neighbour will slaughter the kabir hen for a birthday on June 4.

Here are some photos of my favourite rooster.

We breed native chickens for meat. In March and April we sold a fairly good number of native chickens we’ve raised wondering about in the backyard. March and April was graduation month and fiesta in a few places. We also sold a pig for someone’s graduation party.

We keep a couple of roosters for breeding. We don’t keep roosters for cockfighting. The very first time I witnessed a cockfighting derby was last week on Pamilacan Island. They were having their village fiesta and cockfighting was one of the special events. I was able to take a couple of videos.

I personally don’t know what to feel about cockfighting. I’ve seen roosters fighting as they often do in nature. It is bloody, violent, deadly. But it takes hours. And of course, before the fight becomes deadly, the rooster is free to run away — unless they were tied up as they often are to prevent them from escaping or getting stolen.

In a cockfighting derby, because of the frighteningly sharp steel spurs attached to the roosters’ legs, the fight only takes a few seconds, sometimes a couple of minutes. Sometimes the losing rooster dies, sometimes it lives to fight again another day. At the Pamilacan Island derby, there was a veterinarian tasked to provide care for wounded or injured roosters. Perhaps for people too!

Here are the videos (below) taken on Pamilacan Island, a special cockfighting derby held especially for the fiesta. Cockfighting in the Philippines is regulated by law. Please don’t watch the videos if you find it upsetting.