Effects of Ultraviolet Light Supplementation on Pekin Duck Production, Behavior, and Welfare.
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Ducks, like other domestic poultry species, can visualize the ultraviolet (UV) portion of the light spectrum; however, the importance of UV light radiation in artificially lit duck growout facilities remains unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of UV light supplementation on Pekin duck production parameters, eye development, stress, and fear. Pekin ducks were reared with light-emitting diode (LED) lights supplemented with UV light or just LED lights (control). There were no differences in body weight (p = 0.32), feed conversion ratio (p = 0.38), or gait score (p = 0.89). Differences in eye morphology were observed, with ducks reared under UV light having narrower (12.3 0.06632 mm; p = 0.010) and lighter (1.46 0.01826 g; p = 0.025) eyes than the control (12.5 0.05583 mm; 1.53 0.02386 g). Ducks reared in UV environments had lower acute and chronic stress susceptibility with lower plasma corticosterone (6317 593.79 pg/mL; p = 0.024), heterophil to lymphocyte ratios (0.43 0.02889; p = 0.035), and composite asymmetry (0.58 0.0298; p = 0.002) than control ducks (9242 1120.7 pg/mL; 0.54 0.04212; 0.76 0.03726 mm, respectively). Ultraviolet ducks had a faster latency for the first head movement during tonic immobility (61.28 9.4863 s, p = 0.026) and required more attempts to induce tonic immobility (1.71 0.07333, p = 0.018) than control ducks (100.7 14.846 s and 1.48 0.06478, respectively). There were no differences in inversion testing (p = 0.91). These results indicate that UV lighting can lower stress and fear responses in Pekin ducks and can therefore increase welfare. Additionally, this study emphasizes the importance of choosing correct artificial lighting for all poultry species.