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The breeding of ducklings in indoor and outdoor systems Essay

The breeding of ducklings in indoor and outdoor systems, 499 words essay example

Essay Topic: body, activity, care, health

Three hundred one-day-old mixed sex ducklings (100 Cherry valley, 100 Mulard and 100 Pekin ducks) were allotted into either indoor housing system (n=2) where ducklings within each breed were brooded and reared without any access to an outdoor yard until slaughtering, or outdoor housing system (n=2) where ducklings were allowed to an outdoor access from the 3rd week of age until slaughtering. Behaviours of the birds were collected in four periods per day (observation week) two periods in the morning and two in the afternoon every week for five observation weeks. Body weights and weight gains of birds were also determined weekly for five consecutive weeks. Cellular immune responses (phagocytic activity and phagocytic index) of the birds to Avian Influenza vaccine was measured at the 3rd and 7th day of vaccination whereas, antibody responses to vaccination were measured at the 14th and the 28th days of vaccination. The obtained results showed that Cherry valley ducks exhibited higher levels of panting and total body care behaviour compared to both Mulard and Pekin. Housing ducks indoors increased standing, preening, wing stretching, wing and leg stretch, panting, total body care, floor exploration and total exploration, and aggressive behaviours. Cherry valley ducks had higher initial and final body weight than Mulard and Pekin however, Pekin ducks had heavier body weights during the 2nd, 4th and 6th week of age. Moreover, Pekin ducks gained more weight at the 2nd week of age whereas, during the 4th, 6th and 8th week of age, Cherry valley gained more weight than Mulard and Pekin. Rearing ducks in indoor housing systems resulted in a non-significant reduction in their body weights during the 8th week of age, while during the 4th week of age indoor-housed ducks had higher body weights and weight gains than rearing them under outdoor systems. On contrary, rearing ducks in outdoor systems increased their body weight gain during the 6th and the 8th week, and their total weight gain. There were no significant differences between the three duck breeds for the phagocytic activity after the 3rd and the 7th day of vaccination, however, phagocytic index increased in Pekin ducks after the 7th day of vaccination compared to both Cherry valley and Mulard ducks. Moreover, keeping ducks in indoor systems increased phagocytic activity after the 3rd day of vaccination, and phagocytic index after the 7th day of vaccination. From these results, it could be concluded that genotype can affect behaviour, productivity and responses of ducks to immune challenges. Taken the behavioural, productive and immunity indicators of welfare together, it appears that -under the farm conditions- Cherry valley ducks performed well under indoor housing systems, and Mulard ducks performed well under outdoor housing systems whereas, the performance of Pekin ducks was less affected by the housing systems. Improving housing conditions of ducks intended for meat production does not only improve their welfare but may also have an economic importance through direct consequences on health, productivity and consumers demand.
Key words Duck, Housing, Behaviour, Productive performance, Immune response and Avian Influenza.

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