Behaviour 2019
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Changes to Pekin drake reproductive behaviors as a consequence of physical access to imprinting hens
Lindsey J. Broadus1,2, Brian Lee3, Maja M. Makagon1,2. 1Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States; 2Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States; 3Maple Leaf Farms, Inc., Leesburg, IN, United States

Commercially housed Pekin ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) are commonly raised in same sex groups. A few age-matched imprinting hens may be placed in the male pens within the first month after hatch. Early physical contact with hens is assumed to promote reproductive success in adulthood by promoting successful mating behavior. To evaluate this hypothesis we reared ducklings in alternating same sex groups (150 hens or 30 drakes/pen; 8 groups/sex). Three females were added to four of the male pens at 12 days of age. Adjacent female and male pens were mixed at ~20 weeks of age (woa). The number of properly oriented mounts performed by the males in each pen was evaluated over 3 days (12 hrs/day) at 26, 32, and 45 woa. Pen level fertility was evaluated at 33 and 46 woa. Statistical analyses (Linear Mixed Model and Mann-Whitney U test) were conducted in R. Rearing treatment did not affect male mounting behavior (= 0.157) or fertility (p = 0.142). Mounting behavior was affected by drake age (< 0.001), however the difference was numerically small (1-2 mounts). Early physical access to hens does not improve the reproductive success of this strain of commercial Pekin ducks.