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Influence of Raised Plastic Floors Compared with Pine Shaving Litter on Environment and Pekin Duck Condition

14 April 2013

In this trial, the overall condition of the ducks was described as being good. However, the proportion of ducks having a 0 or 1 feather score was higher for the litter floor systems than slats and the slat-reared birds had cleaner feathers.

Commercial poultry production management practices have been under increased public scrutiny driven by concerns for food safety and animal welfare, explain D.M. Karcher of Michigan State University and co-authors there and at Hope College, South Crossing Veterinary Center and Ohio State University.

In their paper in Poultry Science, they continue that, 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.

Their study evaluated the relationship between flooring type and duck condition during the winter.

Random samples of 20 ducks from five pre-determined areas (n=100) were examined in commercial duck houses (n=9, litter; n=11, raised plastic slats).

Ducks were assessed at seven, 21 and 32 days of age for eye, nostril and feather cleanliness, feather and foot pad quality, and gait. The data were analysed 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 on day 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).

Karcher and co-authors added that, overall, the condition of ducks reared was considered to be good, regardless of flooring system.


Karcher D.M., M.M. Makagon, G.S. Fraley, S.M. Fraley and M.S. Lilburn. 2013. Influence of raised plastic floors compared with pine shaving litter on environment and Pekin duck condition. Poult. Sci. 92(3):583-590. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02215

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April 2013

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