Differences in pre-laying behavior between floor-laying and nest-laying pekin ducks

Lorelle Barrett, Irek Malecki, Dominique Blache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Floor-laying in commercially farmed Pekin ducks is not well understood. This exploratory study aimed to determine if behavioral differences exist between floor-laying and nest-laying ducks. Retrospective analysis of video footage from a small commercial breeding flock (n = 60 birds) was used to quantify the behavior of floor-laying and nest-laying birds (n = 24 events per group) in the hour prior to oviposition site selection. The frequency, percentage of time spent, and duration of bouts were compared for nest box interactions, behaviors inside and outside of boxes and aggressive interactions. Some floor-laying birds did not enter or investigate nest boxes (FL-Out), whilst some floor-layers (FL-In) used nest boxes similarly to nest-laying birds (NL). Nest-building behavior differed only in location, with FL-Out performing the behavior on the shed floor and the other groups performing it primarily in boxes. FL-Out sat more, walked less, and engaged in less aggression (p < 0.05) than FL-In and NL. The occurrence of multiple birds in a nest box was strongly correlated with the number of aggressive interactions that occurred in the box (R = 0.81). Competition appears to contribute to floor-laying in Pekin ducks; FL-Out birds may not engage with nest boxes as a coping strategy to avoid agonistic behavior. These findings indicate that developing practical strategies to reduce nest box competition could help mitigate floor-laying. However, other factors such as nest design may also contribute to FL-Out birds’ reluctance to use nest boxes and require further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


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