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The effect of social dynamics and environment at time of early weaning on short- and long-term lamb behavior in a pasture and feedlot setting

By Allison N. Pullin, Monique D. Pairis-Garcia, Braden J. Campbell, Magnus R. Campler, Kathryn L. Proudfoot, Francis L. Fluharty

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Abstract

Lambs are commonly weaned around 60 d of age in the Eastern United States, but this age is also a time for lambs to apply long-term feeding strategies learned from adult animals. There is minimal evidence on how weaning strategies may affect long-term adaptation of feeding behavior. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of social and environmental factors at weaning on short- (3 d post-weaning) and long-term (8 wk post-weaning) feeding, lying, and standing idle behavior of lambs on pasture or in a feedlot. Two experiments tested this objective: Experiment 1 investigated social dynamics at time of weaning for lambs housed on pasture, and Experiment 2 investigated the effect of weaning into a feedlot compared to a pasture environment. At 60 d of age, 72 crossbred twin lambs were assigned to one of four treatments: lambs weaned and placed with similar-aged lambs onto pasture (W); lambs weaned and placed with similar-aged lambs and non-related adult ewes onto pasture (SF); lambs that remained with their dam on pasture (E); and lambs weaned and placed with similar-aged lambs into a feedlot (FL). Each treatment had three replicates with six lambs/replicate. Behavioral data were collected with instantaneous scan sampling for 15h/d for 55 d. During the first 3 d after weaning in Experiment 1, W lambs spent more time standing than SF lambs (P=0.03), and all lambs decreased standing idle time over the 3 d (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 197
Pages 32-39
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.09.003
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Tags
  1. Feedlots
  2. Lambs
  3. pastures
  4. Social Facilitation
  5. weaning