There is not much information out there on the internet super highway, so I thought I'd add my two cents. The last two mornings have had a down right pioneer woman feeling to them. Starting the day off with butchering ducks and a couple of chickens by myself.
*** got to put this in here *** kennel the dogs.
First of all the preparation is the key. I learned a lot from Homestead Neophyte - can't remember where I came across her blog, but it was helpful.
You will need something large to keep hot water in - it needs to be in the 140 degree range. The large ice chest got this job.
Next you need large pots of water on the stove getting the water to 140 + degrees. I even used the tea kettle so that I could quickly put hot water into the ice chest and let it steam inside. Also have a bucket of cold water off to the side - 10 gallon works great.
Next, you need a prepping table. We have an old table outside, so I staple gunned trash bags over it to have a clean surface. The large plastic cutting board, axe, and knives waited here. Also gather up some twine and a rope with a piece of wood tied into the end.
Then get the 'A' frame ladder out and off to the side with a lined trashcan under it. From the woodpile, I was able to find a chopping block which I nailed two nails about 1 inch a part and left 1 1/2"s of the nails sticking up. This is to help trap the birds head.
THe night before, I put the ducks into a large dog kennel and left them in the shed. This way they can empty out their system without drinking water or eating any more food. This helps to keep the gutting process cleaner.
After the hot water has been added to the ice chest, I went into the shed for the rope. Make three loops in it and have it ready (on your arm) to slip over the birds head as you pull it out of the cage and cinch it down over the wings. Keep hold of that head! Reach under and grab the feet and carry the bird to the chopping block.
Lay the neck between the nails and then tug backward until the head catches. Being a lefty, I had to kneel on the bird, keep hold of the head with the right and then chop. If the first strike isn't a good one, don't stop. Get the birds head off as quickly as possible. Grab the bird around the body and wings and hold it over the trashcan with the neck down inside so that it drains out. While trapping the bird, once it quits twitching, between my knees, I used twine to tie the legs together. Then take the rope off the wings, slip the end with the wood between the legs and carry the bird to the chest of hot water. The bird will float. Use a stick, the ax, one of the knives - something to push the bird down and roll it over in the hot water. Believe me, you don't want to touch. Keep the bird in there for a minute. This is a good time to move the trash can back to position under the 'A' frame ladder.
As you move the bird around in the hot water you should see some feathers coming off . Pull the bird out and hang it on the 'A' frame ladder. I hung the bird at a height that was easy for me to pluck feathers. If the temperature of your water was hot, they will come right off. I don't plan to save our feathers, so I just threw them into the trash can.
AFter plucking the bird, take it to the cutting board. Your main object is to cut around the vent and the oil gland on the back end of the tail. There is a lot of fat on a duck, so it makes it rather easy to cut. Don't slice through the intestine. For gutting, nothing works better than working your fingers up and around the rib cage to rip the lining tissue free. Before completely finishing this process, I flipped the bird around and cut the neck off at the shoulders, this frees up the esophagus and trachea so that when you pull the stuffing out the other end it can all come in one connected mass. Make sure you scrape your fingers into the rib cage to get the lungs. Using a sharp knife at the knee joint, cut, then break backwards and cut through the rest. The wings can be pulled to the side then chopped off.
After pulling out the insides and discarding, I dunked the bird back into the hot water for a minute to help clean it. From the hot water it went into the cold water in the 10 gallon bucket. I continued to pluck pin feathers as the body temp quickly cools down. AFter I finished with the plucking, I took the bird into the house, placed it in one of the empty pots and dumped ice onto it with cold water. It sat there while I did clean up outside, so the dogs could be free to run again.
I hope this helps someone.
Commander will be putting the birds onto the grill this afternoon.
I can't wait.