The present study investigated whether deprivation of nursing or of any physical interaction with the lamb impairs the onset of maternal responsiveness and the establishment of selectivity in primiparous and multiparous ewes. Just after parturition, ewes could interact freely with their lamb, or could only lick their lamb but not nurse them, or could neither lick nor nurse them for the first 4 h. At 4 h, mothers were successively observed for 3 min with an alien lamb and then with their own lamb. Only 5/14 primiparous mothers accepted their own lamb following deprivation of all physical contact whereas all multiparous mothers did so (19/19). Also, deprivation of all physical contact resulted in a significantly higher proportion of multiparous mothers accepting an alien lamb (6/18) than following deprivation of nursing only (0/19) indicating an impairment in selectivity. Finally, there was no indication that preventing only nursing led to a deficit either in maternal responsiveness or selectivity, neither in primiparous nor in multiparous ewes. These findings underline the importance of perception of olfactory cues from amniotic fluids through licking and/or physical contact and interacting with the lamb for the development of maternal responsiveness and selectivity.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||INRA, UMR 85 Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, F-37380 Nouzilly, France. firstname.lastname@example.org|
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