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Maternal locoweed exposure in utero and as a neonate does not disrupt taste aversion learning in lambs

By J. A. Pfister, J. B. Astorga, K. E. Panter, R. J. Molyneux

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Taste aversion learning has been suggested as a sensitive measure of behavioural toxicosis. The purpose of this study was to determine if maternal locowood ingestion would adversely influence the ability of lambs to acquire and retain a conditioned taste aversion (CTA). Pregnant and lactating ewes were fed locoweed (Oxytropis sericea) (300 g/day) from days 100 to 130 of gestation and/or from days 10 to 50 of lactation. Surviving lambs were evaluated at 9 months of age.Ingestion of corn (Zea mays), a novel feed, was paired with lithium chloride. Lambs were tested for three 15-min periods in a two-choice test (corn and alfalfa pellets) immediately after aversive conditioning; persistence was tested 30 days later using the same procedures. All aversively conditioned lambs formed a strong CTA to corn; previous locoweed history did not influence either the strength or the persistence of the aversion. Even though lambs were overtly intoxicated at birth by maternal locoweed exposure, lambs showed no overt signs of intoxication when this study was conducted. Lambs exposed to locoweed do not have an impaired ability to form taste aversions, suggesting that there were no learning deficits secondary to toxicosis and that lambs are likely to have as normal diet selection patterns as adults.

Date 1993
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 36
Issue 2-3
Pages 159-167
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address USDA-ARS Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, Logan, UT 84321, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal reproduction
  3. Animal Toxicology Poisoning and Pharmacology
  4. Butterflies and moths
  5. Feeding behavior
  6. Gestation
  7. Lambs
  8. Learning
  9. Legumes
  10. Mammals
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Plants
  13. Poisoning
  14. pregnancy
  15. Sheep
  16. taste
  17. toxicology
  18. Toxins and toxicants
  19. Weeds and noxious plants
  1. peer-reviewed