Interpretive Summary: Behavior and welfare impacts of water provision via misting in commercial Pekin ducks
By: Dana L M Campbell, Sue Belson, Marisa A Erasmus, Jim M Lea
Ducks use bathing water for wet preening and feather maintenance. Commercially, it is challenging to provide clean bathing water without compromising litter quality and duck health. Overhead misting may be a mode of water delivery that will wet the ducks’ bodies with continuously clean water. This study compared seven grower flocks of Pekin ducks (four misted and three nonmisted treatment flocks) in open-sided sheds during May and November 2021 in Australia. From 26 until 33 d of age, treatment ducks were provided 1 h of misting with shed curtains closed in both treatment and control sheds. External welfare measures were taken directly on the ducks at 26 and 33 d of age. Daily video recordings were made to observe if behaviors differed before, during, or after the 1 h of misting in both treatment and control sheds. Results showed the misting application predominantly affected the way behaviors changed across time between the misted and nonmisted ducks rather than increasing or decreasing the overall expression of specific behaviors. The differences may have in part been related to the curtain closure. Most welfare indicators showed no positive or negative effect of the misting treatment. Larger water droplet sizes may have greater effects on duck behavior.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.