Ducks have a unique fondness to water compared to other commercial poultry. There have been a few studies that shown positive improvement in welfare measurements such as foot pad condition in meat type slaughter ducks. However, after a review of the literature, there appears to be no trials that examine the effects of open source waterers on breeder ducks. In slaughter ducks high bacterial loads and increased litter moisture, both typically negative aspects of foot quality are typically found. But slaughter ducks are only grown an average of 38-42 day, which minimizes long term effects of these problems. However breeder ducks are kept for significantly longer periods of time. So it is logical to explore the long term effects of such practices on the welfare of breeder ducks. For this trial a commercial Pekin breeder flock of 6,262 ducks 17 weeks of age was equally split into 2 groups (3131 duck/trt) all birds were housed in the same house, equal stocking density and equal amounts of shavings added daily. One group was provided access to 4 conventional nipple lines; the other side was supplemented with a trough waterer, as well as 2 nipple lines to maintain equal water access between the groups. Numerous measurements were recorded including mortality, egg production, litter moisture, daily water consumption, water bacteria levels and foot pad scores. Data was analyzed using the ANOVA and Chi squared features of JMP 10. The trough group had significantly higher % litter moisture, elevated coliform and general aerobic CFU counts and increased incidents of foot pad lesion compared to the control group. The control group produced significantly more eggs and used less water than ducks from the trough group. Based on this trial, open source waterers appear to cause significantly more foot lesion in breeder ducks, which could cause significant welfare concerns.
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Zachary S. Lowman, Carmen R. Parkhurst and Jocelyn Romano, 2016. Effect of Nipple Lines vs. Water Trough on Pekin Duck Breeder Performance and Well-Being. International Journal of Poultry Science, 15: 52-56.
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