Post parturient behaviours of twinning Finn and Texel ewes and their lambs were monitored under commercial conditions and a relationship sought between this and lamb survival to weaning. Texel lamb survival to weaning was greatest when Texel ewes quickly made contact with their lamb following birth (within 2 minutes) and for lambs that located their dam’s udder within 30 minutes from birth. Finn lamb survival to weaning was improved when Finn lambs were more vocal after birth, when Finn ewes had higher MBS and when Finn ewes spent a greater proportion of time grooming their lambs. Variation in perinatal behaviour within and across breeds was large and therefore potential exists for improving the ability of the ewe and lamb to bond successfully at parturition by selecting for some of the behaviours identified in this study that encourage lamb survival to weaning.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 64, Hamilton, 223-226, 2004
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