Influence Of Plastic Slatted Floors Compared With Pine Shaving Litter On Pekin Duck Condition During The Summer Months

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


The management and well-being of commercial Pekin ducks has been studied in the European Union where straw is the predominant litter source. In the United States, however, the most prevalent litter is wood shavings, with a recent trend toward using plastic slatted flooring. A previous study in the United States evaluated the relationship between flooring type (litter, slats) and duck condition during winter months and found very few differences between the 2 in terms of overall duck condition. The purpose of the current study was to reevaluate the 2 flooring systems during the summer months to determine if seasonal differences would interact with flooring type to have an impact on duck condition. Eighteen commercial barns that produce Pekin ducks for Maple Leaf Farms Inc. (Leesburg, IN), located in northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin (n = 9 litter; n = 9 raised slatted floor), were used for this study. Twenty ducks were randomly selected from 5 predetermined areas within each house (n = 100 total) and scored for eye condition, nostril and feather cleanliness, and feather and foot pad quality at 7, 21, and 32 d of age. Environmental data, including carbon monoxide, ammonia, RH, and temperature, were also obtained at each collection day. The only statistical differences in body condition occurred at 7 d; there were more ducks with clear eyes and eye rings on the litter flooring, whereas average nostril scores were better on the plastic slatted floors. Live weight, weight gain per day, flock mortality, and condemnations at the plant were collected, and the only statistical difference was a higher gain per day for ducks reared on slatted floors compared with litter (P < 0.05). There were no differences between flooring systems in the environmental parameters measured within the barns. In summary, there were very few differences between the litter and slatted flooring systems, indicating that there may not be clear advantages for one particular flooring system over the other from the point of view of duck well-being and production.