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Lying behaviour of housed and outdoor-managed pregnant sheep

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Williams, M, Davis, CN, Jones, DL, Davies, ES, Vasina, P, Cutress, D, Rose, M ORCID: 0000-0001-6058-1319, Jones, RA and Williams, HW 2021 , 'Lying behaviour of housed and outdoor-managed pregnant sheep' , Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 241 , pp. 1-8 , doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2021.105370.

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Abstract

Lying behaviour has been shown to be highly valuable in supporting the productivity and welfare of cattle. The aim of this experiment was to investigate the effect of biological and physical factors on the lying behaviour of sheep. Ninety-six Bluefaced Leicester x Welsh Mountain crossbred (Mule) ewes managed to lamb indoors, and 80 Welsh Mountain (WM) ewes managed to lamb at grass were used for the study. Acceleration values were collected for the two flocks from accelerometers fitted vertically to the outside of the rear right leg and set to record at 1-min intervals for at least 14 d prior to parturition. Ewes were simultaneously recorded using video equipment to identify lambing and to verify predictions of lying (total lying time, mean lying bout duration and total number of lying bouts) using data collected from 10 randomly selected ewes from the indoor flock on day -10 prior to lambing. Linear regression was used to evaluate predicted behaviours with video footage. Predictions of total lying time (R2 ≥ 0.99; P > 0.05 for slope = 1, intercept = 0), mean lying bout duration (R2 ≥ 0.99; P > 0.05 for slope = 1, intercept = 0) and total number of lying bouts (R2 ≥ 0.98; P > 0.05 for slope = 1, intercept = 0) were strongly associated with video footage (P P P < 0.05) with measures of lying for WM ewes managed at grass. This information could help guide further research on sheep behaviour for management purposes (e.g., to optimise stocking densities and welfare for pregnant ewes). Further work should also consider evaluating measures of lying as proxies for imminent parturition.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Williams, M and Davis, CN and Jones, DL and Davies, ES and Vasina, P and Cutress, D and Rose, M and Jones, RA and Williams, HW
Keywords: sheep, behaviour, accelerometers, pregnant, lying behaviour, lambing
Journal or Publication Title: Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Publisher: Elsevier Science Bv
ISSN: 0168-1591
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.applanim.2021.105370
Copyright Information:

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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