The aim was to study the practical feasibility of raising lambs with intact tails to satisfy welfare concerns over tail-docking. On four farms, two groups of ewes were bred with either a farm ram (Normal) or a Dorper ram (Dorper). Lamb body weight and dag scores were monitored at weaning and before transport to slaughter. Tail length was measured at weaning. Dorper-sired lambs were not tail-docked. Farmers recorded all management procedures and participated in a post-trial questionnaire. On average, the number of handling and health treatments, farm labour and measurements at weaning and transport were similar for the Normal and Dorper-sired lambs. Dag scores averaged 1.2 and 1.3 at weaning, and 0.6 and 0.8 at transport for Normal and Dorper-sired lambs, respectively. Three farms returned a higher value/head for their Dorper-sired lambs. Three farmers stated they would not raise lambs with intact tails in the future unless they received a higher premium. One farmer reported that he would continue to raise undocked Dorper-sired lambs. These results suggest that while it is possible to meet retailer demands for higher welfare standards by raising lambs with intact tails, industry uptake may be dependent on higher premiums that satisfy the perceived extra costs of the farmers.

AR, Rogers, SK Dowling, and JR Webster

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 71, Invercargill, 270-274, 2011
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