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Rauch, Elke; Firnkäs, Nina; Hirsch, Nicola; Damme, Klaus; Schmidt, Paul; Erhard, Michael H. and Bergmann, Shana (2016): Verhalten als ein Indikator des Wohlbefindens beim Einsatz der AquaDuc T® Rundtränke bei Pekingmastenten unter Feldbedingungen. In: Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift, Vol. 129, No. 1/2: pp. 28-39

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Pekin ducks have an innate affinity for water. They seek water from the first day of life and use it for a multitude of behaviors. Currently implemented requirements to husbandry and the design of an animal-friendly offer of drinking water in commercial fattening establishments exist neither at EU-level nor in Germany. Aim of the study was to examine the use of the AquaDuc T (R) (Big Dutchman, Vechta, Germany) and its practical suitability concerning the behavior during the fattening of Pekin ducks under commercial conditions. The examinations took place in three farms (7140-13 515 fattening places). On farm 1 and 3, 16 fattening periods were observed (switch-over design: alternately test and control trial) with each one visited between day 28-32 and 35-39. On farm 2, only ten fattening periods could be examined. The ducks were in general supplied with drinking water via nipple drinkers. For the test trials, the AquaDuc T (R) drinkers were additionally installed and were accessible for a limited time. To record the natural and undisturbed behavior of the ducks in their housing system, the video recordings were started after we finished the farm visits and in total more than 6300 hours of video material were analyzed. All findings show that Pekin ducks clearly favor the round bell drinkers over the nipple drinkers. They enable the birds to immerse their heads, to drink and strain in a species-specific manner, to take care of the plumage with water and to clean beak and eyes. In the test trials, the drinking activity rose significantly during the operating time of the round drinkers (p < 0.001), whereas the nipple drinkers were used less frequently at the same time. Concerning ethology and health, the round drinkers offer the ducks very good conditions for an animal-friendly water supply. For economic and hygienic reasons, the daily access to the modified round drinkers should be limited.

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