Effect of Production System on Welfare Traits, Growth Performance and Meat Quality of Ducks
The effects of production system on welfare traits, growth performance and meat quality of ducks were explored. A total of 120 newly hatched ducklings were randomly assigned to three groups: i) floor-reared system (FRS); ii) welfare-reared system (WRS) and iii) net-reared system (NRS) (n = 8 ducklings/pen, 5 pens/group). In the FRS, ducks were reared on sawdust bedding that was changed every 2 - 3 days. The WRS was similar to the FRS, the difference being the addition of environmental enrichment devices such as perches, coloured balloons and ribbons. In the NRS, ducks were reared on plastic nets on a bamboo bed, and their droppings were cleaned daily with water. After 35 d, welfare traits, growth performance and meat quality of the ducks were measured. Moving and playing durations of WRS ducks were longer than FRS and NRS ducks. Bathing and feather pecking durations of NRS ducks were longer than FRS and WRS ducks. Duck feather quality was greater and gait defects were reduced in NRS system compared with FRS and WRS systems. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) was not affected by the production system. Growth performance was not significantly different between FRS and WRS systems. Average daily weight gain of FRS ducks was higher than in NRS ducks. Feed conversion ratio of FRS ducks was lower than in NRS ducks. There was no difference in acidity, conductivity of pectoralis and leg muscle, and drip loss among the production systems. The conclusion was that NRS proved to be the best production system on welfare traits, while WRS and FRS were the best production systems on growth performance.
Keywords: Drip Loss, Feather Quality, Fluctuating Asymmetry, Gait Defect, Production System