Ewe and lamb contact at lambing is influenced by both shelter type and birth number

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11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A significant number of lambs born each year in Australia die within 72 h of birth. Periods of high wind, combined with rain and low temperatures can lead to marked increases in the mortality level. Under these climatic conditions mortality levels may be reduced with the provision of shelter. This study used contact loggers to compare interactions between ewes with twin lambs across two shelter types (Hessian and shrubs), while also comparing ewes with single and twin lambs in a single shelter type (Hessian). The contact loggers record the time of the initial contact (within approximately 4 to 5 m) between collared animals and the duration of each contact. Contact levels between ewes immediately after lambing were only 10% of the initial levels (1 h/day). For single-born lambs, lambs averaged 11 h contact per day with their mother, while for twinborn lambs, each lamb averaged 9.25 h/day with its mother and 14.7 h/day with its sibling. The level of contact between ewes and each of their offspring in the Hessian was 24% lower (P < 0.05) for ewes with twin lambs than with singles. For ewes with twin lambs the level of contact was 17% lower (P < 0.05) in the Hessian shelter compared with shrub shelter. We conclude that shelter type and birth number can affect the level of contact between ewes and their offspring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-803
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal
Volume4
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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