Effects of different wavelengths of light on the biology, behavior, and production of grow-out Pekin ducks

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Poultry Science

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Oxford Univ Press




The authors wish to thank Maple Leaf Farms, Inc. for their continued support of our research. We also with to thank the National Science Foundation, Research Experience for Undergraduates grant (No. 0754293 to the corresponding author) and to the Natural and Applied Sciences Division at Hope College.


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 x 10(3) mu M photons/m(2)/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 m(2)/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.


Stress, Growth Hormone, Corticosterone, Growth Rates