Journal Article

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

C. L. Campbell, S. Colton, R. Haas, M. Rice, A. Porter, A. Schenk, A. Meelker, S. M. Fraley and G. S. Fraley

in Poultry Science

Volume 94, issue 8, pages 1751-1757
Published in print August 2015 | ISSN: 0032-5791
Published online June 2015 | e-ISSN: 1525-3171 | DOI:
Effects of different wavelengths of light on the biology, behavior, and production of grow-out Pekin ducks

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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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 × 103 μM photons/m2/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 m2/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.

Keywords: stress; growth hormone; corticosterone; growth rates

Journal Article.  4620 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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