Influence of swimming time in alleviating the deleterious effects of hot summer on growing Muscovy duck performance
This experiment was conducted to observe the effects of varying swimming times (ST) of Muscovy ducks, raised in an open-sided house, in alleviating the deleterious effects of high temperature in hotter times of the day in the summer season on growth performance (body weight, average daily gain, feed consumption, and feed conversion ratio), carcass characteristics, body temperature, and some health aspects. We hypothesized that swimming times during the hottest periods of the day would show different performances. To test this hypothesis a total of 180 Muscovy ducklings were randomly distributed into 4 equal groups in a completely randomized design experiment. All groups were raised under similar housing conditions. Birds of the first group (C) were raised in the indoor system and had no access to a swimming pond. While all birds of the second, third, and fourth groups (T1, T2, and T3) had access to a swimming pond during 10:00 to 12:00 h, 12:00 to 14:00 h, and 14:00 to 16:00 h, respectively. The swimming pond (dimensions of 30 m length × 10 m width × 3 m depth with cement floor) was located in the front of the house. Vaccination and medical programs were undertaken according to the different ages under supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The obtained results indicated that swimming during 12:00 to 14:00 h improved (P < 0.05) growth performance, dressed carcass, meat tenderness, lymphocyte, heterophils/lymphocytes ratio, body temperature, and mortality rate of Muscovy ducks. However, bone measurement, plumage conditions, foot pad dermatitis, hock discoloration, breast blisters score, and blood hematocrit values were insignificantly better in the group with access to the swimming pond during 12:00 to 14:00 h. In conclusion, raising ducks during hot conditions in an open-sided house with access to a swimming pond at 12:00 to 14:00 h is highly recommended due to the high BW, better immunity, decreased mortality rate, and low body temperature of ducks which was positively reflected in the health condition.