Influence Of Raised Plastic Floors Compared With Pine Shaving Litter On Environment And Pekin Duck Condition

D. M. Karcher, Michigan State University
M. M. Makagon, Michigan State University
Gregory S. Fraley, Hope College
S. M. Fraley, South Crossing Veterinary Center
M. S. Lilburn, Ohio State University


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.