Global positioning satellite (GPS) devices allow spatial-temporal data sets to be generated which can describe ewe movement around the time of lambing and can potentially be linked to traits of interest, such as the timing and location of lambing events and maternal outcomes including lamb weaning weight. Collar-mounted GPS units were fitted to 25 ewes during their anticipated lambing period. Lambing timing and site were estimated based on a minimum of twice-daily checks of the ewes. Lambing and GPS data were ultimately available for 15 ewes. From the resulting data set, several traits were calculated including the average distance deviation from the central point of the three-hour time block. During the birthing event (at a resolution of hours), the ewes changed their movement behaviour and remained close to the centralised point of the three-hour block. There were significant associations among the weaning weight of the ewes’ offspring (adjusted for rearing rank) and the GPS-derived traits: ewes that were comparatively inactive produced lambs with low weaning weights. Overall, this study demonstrates the potential of GPS-derived traits to be of relevance in studies investigating ewe behaviour around and after-lambing and its impact on production outcomes. Keywords: lambing; global positioning satellites; weaning weights

Johnson, PL, A Welsh, K Knowler, and P Pletnykov

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 81, Online, 29-34, 2021
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