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A breeding goal to improve the welfare of sheep

By D. R. Scobie, A. R. Bray, D. O'Connell

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This paper examines the practical and welfare implications of breeding a polled sheep with a short tail, devoid of wool on the head, legs, belly and breech, which has been proposed as a breeding goal (Scobie et al., Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animimal Production 57 (1997) 84-87). Mean shearing times were slower (P<0.001) for control Romney (n = 68) and Coopworth (n = 144) ewe hoggets compared with times for both breeds after they had been trimmed to resemble the breeding goal. Romney wethers (n = 80) were slower to shear than ewes (P<0.001), but trimmed wethers were much faster to shear than the untrimmed controls. Trimmed sheep produced less wool (pooled mean weights of fleece wool for trimmed sheep vs. total wool for controls being 2.5 vs. 3.5 kg; P<0.001), half the difference consisting of lower-value oddment wools from the untrimmed controls. Tails were docked to 0, 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100% of the distance between the base of the tail and the hock of Perendale lambs (n = 158), and 0, 20, 40 and 60% on Coopworths (n = 196). More dags accumulated as the tail stump increased in length, although significance depended on the time of year and management system. No fly strike (cutaneous myiasis) was observed in Perendales given physical and chemical protection, whereas a small proportion of all tail lengths were fly-struck in Coopworths given only physical protection. When shorn as hoggets, the time taken to shear Perendale ewes increased with increasing tail length (P<0.001).

Date 1999
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 8
Issue 4
Pages 391-406
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address AgResearch, PO Box 60, Lincoln 8152, New Zealand.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal rights
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Australasia
  4. Breed differences
  5. Breeding
  6. Commonwealth of Nations
  7. Developed countries
  8. Docking
  9. Fleecing
  10. Head
  11. Lambs
  12. Mammals
  13. New Zealand
  14. Oceania
  15. OECD countries
  16. Parasites
  17. parasitic infestations
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. shearing
  20. Sheep
  21. Wool
  1. peer-reviewed