Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The effects of pasture availability for twin- and triplet-bearing ewes in mid and late pregnancy on ewe and lamb behaviour 12 to 24 h after birth

  • R. A. Corner (a1) (a2), P. R. Kenyon (a1) (a2) (a3), K. J. Stafford (a1) (a2) (a3), D. M. West (a1) (a3), S. T. Morris (a1) (a3) and M. H. Oliver (a2)...

Abstract

This experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of offering ewes two different feeding levels, during mid and late pregnancy, on ewe and lamb behaviour 12 to 24 h after birth. Romney ewes, bearing twin (n = 80) or triplet foetuses (n = 56), were allocated to a pasture sward height of 2 or 4 cm between 70 and 107 days of pregnancy. In late pregnancy (day 107 to 147), half of the ewes were reallocated the alternate sward height, which produced four treatments: 2-2, 2-4, 4-2 and 4-4. Ewes were weighed on days 65, 92, 107 and 130 of pregnancy and lamb live weights were recorded 12 to 24 h after birth. Twelve to 24 h after birth the maternal behaviour score (MBS) of the ewes were determined, whilst their lambs were tagged. After the lambs were released, the behaviour of each ewe and her lambs was observed for 5 min. Ewe treatment and litter size had no effect on ewe MBS. However, as MBS increased (ewes stayed closer to lambs during tagging), ewes bleated less in a high-pitch and were quicker to make contact with their lamb. During the observation period, ewes in the 4-4 treatment had a greater percentage of their bleats in a low pitch (P < 0.05) than ewes in the 2-2 and 4-2 treatment (61.3% v. 41.3% and 38.8% low bleats, respectively) and more lambs born to 4-4 ewes (95%) bleated than lambs born to 2-2 ewes (84%; P < 0.05). However, lambs born to ewes in the 2-2 treatment bleated earlier than lambs in all other treatments (P < 0.05). Lambs born to 4-4 ewes were less likely (P < 0.05) to move towards their dam in order to make contact than lambs born to 2-2 or 4-2 ewes (3.1% v. 16.9% and 16.7%, respectively). These findings suggest that under the conditions of the present study, ewe nutrition had little effect on maternal behaviour. However, lambs born to ewes offered 2 cm pasture sward heights during mid and/or late pregnancy (2-2, 2-4 and 4-2 treatments) displayed behaviour that demonstrated greater ‘need’ whereas lambs born to ewes offered 4 cm during mid and late pregnancy sought less attention from their dam.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Alexander, G 1988. What makes a good mother? Components and comparative aspects of maternal behaviour in ungulates. Proceedings of the Australian Society of Animal Production 17, 2541.
Alexander, G, Stevens, D, Mottershead, B 1983. Problems in the accurate recording of lambing data. Australian Journal of Experimental Animal Husbandry 23, 361368.
Amer, PR, McEwan, JC, Dodds, KG, Davis, GH 1999. Economic values for ewe prolificacy and lamb survival in New Zealand sheep. Livestock Production Science 58, 7590.
Banchero, GE, Quintas, G, Vasquez, A, Gigena, F, La Manna, A, Lindsay, DR, Milton, JTB 2007. Effect of the supplementation of ewes with barley or maize during the last week of pregnancy on colostrum production. Animal 1, 625630.
Corner, RA, Kenyon, PR, Stafford, KJ, West, DM, Lopez-Villalobos, N, Morris, ST, Oliver, MH 2008. The effect of nutrition from mid to late pregnancy on the performance of twin- and triplet-bearing ewes and their lambs. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 666671.
Corner, RA, Kenyon, PR, Stafford, KJ, West, DM, Morris, ST, Blair, HT 2005. The effect of ewe nutrition during gestation on the maternal behaviour of their ewe lambs. Proceedings of the Australian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand 65, 163167.
Corner, RA, Kenyon, PR, Stafford, KJ, West, DM, Oliver, MH 2006. The effect of mid pregnancy shearing or yarding stress on ewe post-natal behaviour and the birth weight and post-natal behaviour of their lambs. Livestock Science 102, 121129.
Dwyer, CM, Lawrence, AB 1998. Variability in the expression of maternal behaviour in primiparous sheep: effects of genotype and litter size. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 58, 311330.
Dwyer, CM, Lawrence, AB 2005. A review of the behavioural and physiological adaptations of hill and lowland breeds of sheep that favour lamb survival. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 92, 235260.
Dwyer, CM, Lawrence, AB, Bishop, SC, Lewis, M 2003. Ewe-lamb bonding behaviours at birth are affected by maternal undernutrition in pregnancy. The British Journal of Nutrition 89, 123136.
Dwyer, CM, McLean, KA, Deans, LA, Chirnside, J, Calvert, SK, Lawrence, AB 1998. Vocalisations between mother and young in sheep: effects of breed and maternal experience. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 58, 105119.
Everett-Hincks, JM, Blair, HT, Stafford, KJ, Lopez-Villalobos, N, Kenyon, PR, Morris, ST 2005a. The effect of pasture allowance fed to twin- and triplet-bearing ewes in late pregnancy on ewe and lamb behaviour and performance to weaning. Livestock Production Science 97, 253266.
Everett-Hincks, JM, Lopez-Villalobos, N, Blair, HT, Stafford, KJ 2005b. The effect of ewe maternal behaviour score on lamb and litter survival. Livestock Production Science 93, 5161.
Everett-Hincks, JM, Dobbs, KG 2007. Management of maternal-offspring behaviour to improve lamb survival in easy care sheep systems. Journal of Animal Science 86, E259E270.
Hinch, GN, Crosbie, SF, Kelly, RW, Owens, JL, David, GH 1985. Influence of birth weight and litter size on lamb survival in high fecundity Booroola-Merino crossbred flocks. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 28, 3138.
Hinch, GN, Lynch, JJ, Nolan, JV, Leng, RA, Bindon, BM, Piper, LR 1996. Supplementation of high fecundity Border Leicester x Merino ewes with a high protein feed: its effects on lamb survival. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 36, 129136.
Kerslake, JI, Kenyon, PR, Morris, ST, Stafford, KJ, Morel, PCH 2008. Effect of concentrate supplement and sward height on twin-bearing ewe body condition and the performance of their offspring. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 988994.
Lindsay, DR 1996. Environment and reproductive behaviour. Animal Reproduction Science 42, 112.
Lindsay, DR, Nowak, R, Putu, I, McNeill, D 1990. Behavioural interactions between the ewe and her young at parturition: a vital step for the lamb. In Reproductive physiology of Merino sheep: concepts and consequences (ed. CM Oldham, GB Martin and IW Purvis), pp. 191205. School of Agriculture (Animal Science) University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.
Meat and Wool New Zealand Economic Service 2006. Livestock numbers report – sheep. Statistics New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand.
Morris, ST, Kenyon, PR 2004. The effect of litter size and sward height on ewe and lamb performance. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 47, 275286.
Nicol, AM, Brookes, IM 2007. The metabolisable energy requirement of grazing livestock. In Pasture and supplements for grazing animals, Occasional Publication No. 14 (ed. PV Rattray, IM Brookes and AM Nicol), pp. 151172. New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Nowak, R 1996. Neonatal survival: contributions from behavioural studies in sheep. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 49, 6172.
O’Connor, CE 1996. Ewe maternal behaviour score and lamb growth: 10 years on. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 56, 107109.
O’Connor, CE, Jay, NP, Nicol, AM, Beatson, PR 1985. Ewe maternal behaviour score and lamb survival. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 45, 159162.
O’Connor, CE, Lawrence, AB 1992. Relationship between lamb vigor and ewe behavior at parturition. Animal Production 54, 361366.
Poindron, P, Lévy, F, Keller, M 2007. Maternal responsiveness and maternal selectivity in domestic sheep and goats: the two facets of maternal attachment. Developmental Psychobiology 49, 5470.
Putu, IG, Poindron, P, Lindsay, DR 1988. A high level of nutrition during late pregnancy improves subsequent maternal behaviour of Merino ewes. Proceedings of the Australian Society of Animal Production 17, 294297.
Scales, GH, Burton, RN, Moss, RA 1986. Lamb mortality, birth-weight, and nutrition in late pregnancy. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 29, 7582.
Weary, DM, Fraser, D 1995. Calling by domestic piglets – reliable signals of need. Animal Behaviour 50, 10471055.

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The effects of pasture availability for twin- and triplet-bearing ewes in mid and late pregnancy on ewe and lamb behaviour 12 to 24 h after birth

  • R. A. Corner (a1) (a2), P. R. Kenyon (a1) (a2) (a3), K. J. Stafford (a1) (a2) (a3), D. M. West (a1) (a3), S. T. Morris (a1) (a3) and M. H. Oliver (a2)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.