Abstract

In this experiment the effects of feeding treatments from mid pregnancy until lambing on the behaviour of twin-bearing ewes and their lambs were investigated. Fifty seven four-year-old Romney ewes were offered a medium (1164 ± 31.6 and 819 ± 16.0 kg DM/ha pre- and post-grazing pasture mass, respectively) or ad libitum (2181 ± 47.6 and 1431 ± 24.6 kg DM/ha pre- and post-grazing pasture mass, respectively) feeding treatment from day 76 of pregnancy until after lambing. At ear-tagging the time taken for the lambs to stand, make contact with, suck from and follow their dam was recorded. A maternal behaviour score based on the distance the ewe moved away from her lambs during tagging was also recorded. Survival analysis showed that lambs born to ewes offered the medium feeding treatment from mid pregnancy until lambing were quicker to stand, suck and follow compared with lambs born to ewes offered the ad libitum feeding treatment (P<0.05). It is unclear whether these behaviours indicate that lambs born to ewes in the medium treatment were more vigorous or that they had unmet needs that prompted the apparent increase in vigour. Ewe feeding treatments did not affect the maternal behaviour of the ewes.

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

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 76, Adelaide, 8-13, 2016
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