Birds fast intermittently during weather disturbances and migration. We tested responses of black duck to lost feeding days during autumn mass gain. Nine adult males were fed a pelleted diet (1.5% fat, 15.8% protein, and 18.3% neutral detergent fiber) and caged indoors during September and October (12 h light; 17? -24? C) to measure balances over 14 d when fed ad lib. each day and fasted intermittently for 2 d wk-1 (short fast) or 4 d wk-1 (long fast). Body mass (1,081 g), body water content, and metabolizable intakes of energy and protein were maintained as daily intakes of dry matter increased to 1.65 (short fast) and 2.35 (long fast) times the unfasted level. Intermittent feeding reduced metabolizability of dry matter, energy, protein, and acid detergent fiber. Concentrations of Mn provided similar estimates of metabolizability to direct measures in unfasted birds but underestimated measures of birds on long fasts. Fasting regimes continued outdoors for 9 wk when temperatures declined to -9? C. Birds on short fasts were heavier (1,373 vs. 1,241 g) and fatter (159 vs. 58 g) than those on long fasts, while body water (894 g) and protein (316 g) were similar between groups after 5 wk. Birds on long fasts subsequently gained mass when fed daily, but those on short fasts lost mass when fed each day. Omnivorous waterfowl combine ingestive and digestive flexibility with plasticity of body lipid to contend with uncertain food availability.
Additional publication details
Intermittent feeding in a migratory omnivore: Digestion and body composition of American Black Duck during autumn