The nutritional significance of invertebrate foods in the diet of breeding hen waterfowl during the period of egg formation is discussed. Proximate, elemental, and amino acid analyses of the principal foods consumed by hen pintails (Anas acuta) during the nesting season indicate the animal foods selected are rich sources of protein and calcium, whereas plant foods tested were low in protein, particularly in the essential amino acids lysine and methionine. Calcium content in major plant foods was far below needs considered adequate for egg production. Studies with penned, hand-reared pintails indicated the inadequacy of wheat as the dietary staple during breeding. Egg production among pairs on the control diet differed significantly from that of the wheat plus oystershell (P < 0.05) and wheat (P < 0.01) diets. Pairs fed wheat during the breeding period experienced nearly complete reproductive failure. The poor reproductive response among hens on the diet of wheat plus oystershell suggested that calcium availability was not the only factor limiting productivity.
Additional publication details
Some nutritional aspects of reproduction in prairie nesting pintails