Welfare of ducks in European duck husbandry systems

T.B. Rodenburg, M.B.M. Bracke, J. Berk, J. Cooper, J.M. Faure, D. Guemene, A. Harlander, T. Jones, U. Knierim, K. Kuhnt, H. Pingel, K. Reiter, J. Serviere, M.A.W. Ruis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    78 Citations (Scopus)


    European duck meat production is based on the use of Pekin, Muscovy and Mule duck genotypes that vary in their behavioural and physiological characteristics. Furthermore, large differences exist in their housing and management conditions. The aim of this review is to discuss the welfare of these different genotypes in typical husbandry systems, focusing on ducks kept for meat production. Firstly, factors that can affect duck welfare, such as stocking density and group size, access to straw, an outdoor run, or open water, are described. Secondly, welfare problems such as feather pecking, fear and stress, and health problems are assessed. Thirdly, the various systems used in Europe are described for these aspects. Giving ducks access to straw, an outdoor run, or open water increases the behavioural opportunities of the ducks (foraging, preening, bathing, and swimming), but can also lead to poor hygiene and increased health- and food safety risks. Therefore, practical solutions that allow expression of natural behaviour, but do not lead to hygiene or health problems have to be found and some practical suggestions are provided
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)633-646
    JournalWorlds Poultry Science Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • domestic ducks
    • behavior
    • stress


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