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A colostrum feeder for newborn lambs

By D. Fraser, J. Rushen

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Newborn lambs were studied in 6 experiments to identify simple cues that elicit teat-seeking behaviour, and to incorporate these cues into a device that would guide lambs to find and suck from a colostrum bottle. Lambs were removed from the ewe before sucking and were observed for 10 min in a small cubicle where alternative design features were presented in pairs. When presented with a horizontal ledge at head height with a fleecy undersurface wide enough (160 mm) to cover the lamb's muzzle, most lambs performed teat-seeking behaviour, including contacting the fleece repeatedly with the muzzle, opening and closing the mouth on the fleece, and upward butting movements of the head. These activities occurred much less if the fleecy undersurface was replaced by a hard wooden ledge (P<0.01), if the fleecy ledge was oriented vertically, or if the ledge width was reduced to cover only the mouth area (P<0.01 in most comparisons). Differences in surface texture (fleece vs. cotton-covered fleece), surface temperature (10 vs. 37 degrees C), and use of extra padding beneath the fleece had less marked effects. Reactions of lambs were then tested with a prototype colostrum bottle holder which incorporated soft rubber teats surrounded by a fleecy horizontal undersurface. Of 27 lambs tested with a blind teat, 24 found and sucked the teat without assistance in a median of 2.1 min. In a final test, of 13 lambs offered colostrum from the bottle, 10 found the teat and consumed 100 ml of colostrum in a median of 4.9 min. Thus, the prototype makes it easy to bottle-feed a newborn lamb in most cases, but some handling would be needed for certain individuals.

Date 1993
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 35
Issue 3
Pages 267-276
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Centre for Food and Animal Research, Building 94, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Ont., K1A 0C6, Canada.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Colostrum
  4. Design
  5. Drinking
  6. Feeders
  7. Feeding behavior
  8. Lambs
  9. Mammals
  10. newborn animals
  11. nipple drinkers
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Sheep
  14. suckling
  1. peer-reviewed