The effects of the dam’s nutrition during pregnancy on her lambs’ behaviour in the days after birth has been examined but the longer term effects on lamb behaviour and mothering ability are not known. The behaviour of twin and triplet ewes born to ewes offered herbage with an average sward height of 2 or 6 cm from day 64 to 132 of pregnancy was recorded at 1 year of age in an arena test and at 2 years of age post lambing. A significantly (P < 0.05) greater proportion of the progeny born to dams offered 6 cm sward heights bleated in a high pitch during a 5 minute arena test. However there were no differences in minimum, median and maximum distance of the ewe from the observer or on the frequency of low- and high-pitched bleats. In addition there was no difference in the behaviour of twin- and triplet-born ewes in the arena test. At 2 years of age twin-born ewes had a significantly greater maternal behaviour score than their triplet-born counterparts. Ewe nutrition during pregnancy did not affect the maternal behaviour score of their ewe lambs after lambing at 2 years of age. These results suggest that feeding levels during pregnancy are less important than the birth rank in terms of the intergenerational effects on behaviour. KEYWORDS: ewe nutrition; lamb; behaviour; twin; triplet.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 29-32, 2005
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