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Behavioural effects of social mixing at different stocking densities in prepubertal lambs

By J. L. Ruiz-de-la-Torre, X. Manteca

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The behavioural effects of stocking density and mixing individuals from 2 different flocks were studied in 80 prepubertal lambs of about 20 kg body weight kept at either low (1 lamb/m) or high (3.3 lambs/m) stocking densities, similar to conditions experienced during transport. At both densities, flock mates associated preferentially with each other over the 3 experimental days. The total number of aggressive interactions (including head-to-head clashes, head-to-body buttings and mountings) initiated per animal over the 3 days was higher in trials without social mixing than in trials with social mixing. Stocking density had no effect on the total number of aggressive interactions. Since animals associated preferentially with flock mates, aggressive behaviours were also preferentially directed towards individuals from the same flock. Males initiated significantly more aggressive interactions than females. The total number of aggressive interactions received was similar for males and females, but females received more mountings than males. It is concluded that stocking density has no effect on aggressive behaviour and it is suggested that social mixing may not be a welfare problem in prepubertal lambs.

Date 1999
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 8
Issue 2
Pages 117-126
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Department of Physiology, School of Veterinary Sciences, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal communication
  4. Animal transport
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Collection
  7. Developed countries
  8. Europe
  9. Group behavior
  10. Lambs
  11. Mammals
  12. Mediterranean region
  13. OECD countries
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Sheep
  16. Social behavior
  17. Social Dominance
  18. Spain
  19. stocking density
  20. stocking rates
  1. peer-reviewed