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Kentwood, MI, United States

Fraley S.M.,South Crossing Veterinary Center | Fraley G.S.,Hope College | Karcher D.M.,Michigan State University | Makagon M.M.,Michigan State University | And 2 more authors.
Poultry Science

The management and well-being of commercial Pekin ducks has been studied in the European Union where straw is the predominant litter source. In the United States, however, the most prevalent litter is wood shavings, with a recent trend toward using plastic slatted flooring. A previous study in the United States evaluated the relationship between flooring type (litter, slats) and duck condition during winter months and found very few differences between the 2 in terms of overall duck condition. The purpose of the current study was to reevaluate the 2 flooring systems during the summer months to determine if seasonal differences would interact with flooring type to have an impact on duck condition. Eighteen commercial barns that produce Pekin ducks for Maple Leaf Farms Inc. (Leesburg, IN), located in northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin (n = 9 litter; n = 9 raised slatted floor), were used for this study. Twenty ducks were randomly selected from 5 predetermined areas within each house (n = 100 total) and scored for eye condition, nostril and feather cleanliness, and feather and foot pad quality at 7, 21, and 32 d of age. Environmental data, including carbon monoxide, ammonia, RH, and temperature, were also obtained at each collection day. The only statistical differences in body condition occurred at 7 d; there were more ducks with clear eyes and eye rings on the litter flooring, whereas average nostril scores were better on the plastic slatted floors. Live weight, weight gain per day, flock mortality, and condemnations at the plant were collected, and the only statistical difference was a higher gain per day for ducks reared on slatted floors compared with litter (P < 0.05). There were no differences between flooring systems in the environmental parameters measured within the barns. In summary, there were very few differences between the litter and slatted flooring systems, indicating that there may not be clear advantages for one particular flooring system over the other from the point of view of duck well-being and production. © 2013 Poultry Science Association Inc. Source

Karcher D.M.,Michigan State University | Makagon M.M.,Michigan State University | Fraley G.S.,Hope College | Fraley S.M.,South Crossing Veterinary Center | Lilburn M.S.,Ohio State University
Poultry Science

Commercial poultry production management practices have been under increased public scrutiny driven by concerns for food safety and animal welfare. Within the United States, wood shavings and raised plastic floors are common flooring systems used in duck production. It is intuitive that each flooring type would present different management challenges influencing physical characteristics of growing ducks. This study evaluated the relationship between flooring type and duck condition during the winter. Random samples of 20 ducks from 5 predetermined areas (n = 100) were examined in commercial duck houses (n = 9, litter; n = 11, raised plastic slats). Ducks were assessed at 7, 21, and 32 d of age for eye, nostril, and feather cleanliness, feather and foot pad quality, and gait. The data were analyzed to determine the proportion of ducks with a given score. In both housing types, the proportion of 0 scores for foot pad quality improved during the production cycle (P < 0.0001). Feather hygiene declined with age in ducks reared on litter flooring, whereas ducks reared on slatted flooring had cleaner feathers at d 32 (P < 0.011). With the exception of foot pad scores, the majority of ducks had no detectable problems for any single trait. The only main effect due to flooring pertained to feather quality with the proportion of ducks having a 0 or 1 score greater in litter flooring systems than slats (P < 0.05). Overall, the condition of ducks reared, regardless of flooring system, was considered to be good. © 2013 Poultry Science Association Inc. Source

Schenk A.,Hope College | Porter A.L.,Hope College | Alenciks E.,Hope College | Frazier K.,Hope College | And 4 more authors.
Poultry Science

Controversy has developed as to whether or not pin-metered water lines or water troughs are more appropriate for Pekin ducks. We hypothesized that water troughs would show improved duck body conditions and environmental quality compared to pin-metered water lines. To test this hypothesis, we housed ducks in 2 barns, one with water lines and one with water troughs. Water troughs were constructed to meet RSPCA guidelines for number and density of ducks and with recently described verandas. Ducks were divided into 4 pens per barn (n = 1,000 ducks/pen). The study was then repeated (n = 8 pens per water source) in a cross-over design so the barns each contained the opposite water source to the first experiment. We scored the ducks' body condition using an established scoring rubric and analyzed using SAS Proc GLM-Mix as binomial data. Ducks housed with water troughs showed higher (thus worse condition; P < 0.001) scores for eyes, nostrils, feather quality, feather cleanliness, and foot pads. We also compared water condition, water quality, and duck mortality using a Student t test for both water sources each week. We found that the water troughs showed higher iron (P < 0.001), nitrites (P < 0.001), pH (P < 0.01), and bacterial growth (P < 0.001). The bacterial growth was shown to have higher (P < 0.001) E. coli, coliforms, and Staphylococcus in the water troughs. Water lines typically showed no bacterial growth in culture-based assays. Ducks housed with water troughs used greater (P = 0.001) volumes of water compared to ducks housed with water lines. Ducks with water troughs also showed a greater percent (P = 0.008) mortality at all ages compared to ducks with water lines. These data suggest that water troughs may not be beneficial for duck welfare and could adversely impact both environment and duck or human health. © 2016 The Author. Source

Campbell C.L.,Hope College | Colton S.,Hope College | Porter A.,Hope College | Haas R.,Hope College | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Applied Poultry Research

The ability to evaluate gait in a commercial poultry setting is an important aspect of assessing physical health and well-being. Previously, it was suggested that gait width or metatarsal adduction (MA) may be indicative of lameness in ducks. However, no published description of normal gait of Pekin ducks currently exists. Thus, our goal was to characterize the range of gait patterns of healthy commercial Pekin ducks. We set out to determine if MA or gait width has an effect on the ducks' ability to ambulate. We further characterized whether these gait measures are associated with structural abnormalities or tibial dyschondroplasia (TD), or with plasma corticosterone levels. One-day-old hatchlings (n = 110) were obtained and housed in aviary floor pens under environmental conditions that closely adhered to industry standards. Beginning on d 3, weekly footprint analyses were completed. Qualitative analyses revealed that ducks fell into 3 general categories in a normal distribution: wide, middle, and narrow stance. Beginning at d 1, a weekly subset of ducks (n = 10) was weighed and analyzed for pelvic limb structure and presence of gross evidence of TD. On d 1, ducks were randomly selected for dissection. Starting on d 7, ducks (n = 10) were selected across the 3 gait width categories for analyses. Tibial dyschondroplasia is observed in ducks regardless of the degree of MA or width of stance. No significant differences were observed in plasma corticosterone levels regardless of gait width or degree of MA. At this time, we conclude that TD may not be a risk factor in the development of MA, or the converse, that severe MA may not be a risk factor for TD; the presence of MA may not be indicative of lameness or a diminished level of well-being in and of itself. Lastly, we report that our qualitative assessment of gait width is easily performed in any aviary or barn setting, is an indicator of future gait, and this qualitative assessment can be supported by anatomical measures. © 2014 Poultry Science Association Inc. Source

Campbell C.L.,Hope College | Colton S.,Hope College | Haas R.,Hope College | Rice M.,Hope College | And 6 more authors.
Poultry Science

Previous research has shown that red light conditions may improve growth and decrease aggressive behaviors in chickens and turkeys; however, more recent studies suggest that blue-green light may improve production of broilers over red light. To date, no research has been conducted to examine whether different wavelengths of light have an impact on production in the Pekin duck. To determine this, we raised Pekin ducks under aviary conditions that were similar to standard commercial barns. The ducks were kept in 3 different pens: red light (approximately 625 nm), blue light (approximately 425 nm), and white light. Light sources in each pen were standardized to produce a peak energy at 1.6 × 103 μM photons/m2/s at the level of the ducks' heads. Ducks were given ad libitum access to water and commercial duck diet, and were housed on pine shavings at a density of 0.43 m2/duck. Ducks were evaluated weekly for BW and condition and a subjective measure of the duck's anxiety levels was determined. We found that ducks housed under blue light had significantly (P < 0.01) reduced BW at every age until the end of the study (processing age; 35 d). Unlike ducks housed under red or white light, ducks housed in the blue pen showed a higher level of anxiety; while evaluators were in the pen a majority of them began panting, they were much less inquisitive than other ducks, they took longer to exhibit normal social behavior once evaluation was completed, and they frequently "swarmed" when no people were present. There were no differences in any measurements between the red and white-lighted pens. These data suggest that unlike the chicken, blue lights may be inappropriate for raising Pekin ducks in a commercial setting. © 2015 Poultry Science Association Inc. Source

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