Abstract

Nutrition of ewes during pregnancy may affect the behaviour and survival of lambs. In this experiment, ewes were allocated ‘low’ (pasture mass 800-1000 kg DM/ha), ‘medium’ (pasture mass 1200-1400 kg DM/ha) or ‘high’ nutrition (pasture mass 1500-1700 kg DM/ha) from day 141 of pregnancy until weaning. All treatments included ewes of body condition score (BCS) 2.0, 2.5 or 3.0 as measured on day 98 of pregnancy to give a 3x3 factorial design. Behaviours of ewes and lambs were recorded in the paddock at tagging 3-18 hours after birth. Lambs born to ewes on the high treatment were quicker to stand than those on the low treatment (median time 15.5 versus 53.5 seconds; P<0.05), but neither group differed from lambs on the medium treatment (16.5 seconds; P>0.05). There were no differences among treatments or BCS groups in time taken for the lamb to make contact with dam, suck from dam or follow their dam. Maternal behaviour score of the ewes was not affected by BCS or treatment. The percentage of lambs that bleated was similar for lambs from all BCS groups and treatments. BCS and nutrition of ewes in late pregnancy and during the neonatal period had little influence on the behaviour of ewes and lambs.

GV Gronqvist, RE Hickson, RA Corner-Thomas, PR Kenyon, KJ Stafford, and ST Morris

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 75, Dunedin, 219-222, 2015
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