Influence of temperature stimulation during the last 6 days of incubation on hatching results and later performance in Pekin ducks

Halle, Ingrid GND; Tzschentke, B.; Henning, Martina GND; Köhler, Peter GND

In Germany per capita consumption of poultry meat was 16 kg in the year 2000 and rose up to 18.9 kg in 2011. Per capita consumption of 0.9 kg meat originated from ducks in 2011 (Böttcher and Schmidt, 2013). The American breed of Pekin duck of takes a dominant position within duck meat production in Germany. Recent research shows that incubation climate may have a long-lasting influence on poultry performance (e.g., Collin et al., 2007; Hulet et al., 2007; Pistun et al., 2008; Tzschentke and Halle, 2009; Shinder et al., 2011). The most important climatic incubation factor is the incubation temperature (Decuypere and Michels, 1992). In poultry, for instance, at the end of incubation, long-term alterations in incubation temperature may induce prenatal epigenetic temperature adaptation, which results in a long-lasting cold or warm adaptation during post-hatching development. Another important fact is that the development of body functions starts early during embryogenesis (Tzschentke, 2007, 2008). Therefore, the following study was carried out to investigate our hypothesis that short-term variation in incubation temperature during the last days of incubation can improve hatching results and have long-lasting effect on performance, also in Pekin ducks. The aim of the study was to make a complex investigation of the influence of a mild short term; increases or decreases in incubation temperature at the end of incubation (Day 23 up to hatching) on hatchability; secondary sex ratio, and quality of the hatched ducklings, as well as performance of a large sample of males and females of a high yielding duck breed until age of slaughter. In this regard our main objective was to find out if thermal manipulation during the end of incubation has a different influence on performance until slaughter age in male and female Pekin ducks.

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Halle, Ingrid / Tzschentke, B. / Henning, Martina / et al: Influence of temperature stimulation during the last 6 days of incubation on hatching results and later performance in Pekin ducks. 2013.

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