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Influence of weaning age and an experimental Haemonchus contortus infection on behaviour and growth rates of lambs

By C. Schichowski, E. Moors, M. Gauly

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Abstract

Four groups of 20 lambs each, differing in weaning age (6 or 13 weeks) and infection with Haemonchus contortus (infection after weaning or simultaneous to weaning), were observed and compared regarding the behaviour before, during and after these procedures. Furthermore the influence on performance, health and welfare was estimated by examining daily weight gains (ADW), haematocrit (HCT), and faecal egg count (FEC). The analysis demonstrates that the exposure through weaning is highest for the youngest lambs. Agitation was higher in lambs that were weaned at the age of 6 weeks, when compared with animals weaned at 13 and 21 weeks of age. ADW at 17 weeks of age were significantly (p <0.05) highest in the uninfected control group and in animals which were weaned and infected at the same time (326+or-10.0 g/day and 305+or-10.0 g/day). Therefore, infection did not influence ADW significantly. No significant differences between the groups in log FEC could be found. Four weeks after the infection, highest HCT values were measured in the uninfected control animals, whereas lowest HCT values were found in animals which were weaned at the age of 6 weeks. The results show that weaning age had an effect on behaviour alterations after the weaning procedure, as well as on growth rates of lambs. However, grade of parasite infection was not influenced by weaning, but blood loss in lambs due to infection was highest when lambs were weaned at 6 weeks of age. These aspects are important for the experimental design of infection studies in lambs and the assurance of productivity in sheep breeding systems, when lambs weaned and brought on pasture at the same time and therefore exposed simultaneously to two stressors.

Date 2010
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 125
Issue 3/4
Pages 103-108
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.04.014
Author Address Department of Animal Science, Georg August University, Albrecht Thaer Weg 3, 37075 Goettingen, Germany.Mgauly@gwdg.de
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal genetics
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Breeding
  6. Experimentation
  7. Feces
  8. Foraging
  9. Grasslands and rangelands
  10. Grazing
  11. Growth rates
  12. Health
  13. Hematocrit
  14. Infections
  15. Invertebrates
  16. Lambs
  17. Mammals
  18. Methodologies
  19. nematodes
  20. Parasites
  21. pastures
  22. peer-reviewed
  23. performance traits
  24. plot design
  25. productivity
  26. Research
  27. Sheep
  28. Studies
  29. Techniques
  30. weaning
  31. Weight
  32. Wool producing animals
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed