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Vocal Recognition of Recorded Lambs Voices By Ewes of Three Breeds of Sheep

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Vocal recognition of lamb's voices by their dams was investigated in Border Leicester, Jacob and Soay sheep, using recordings of lambs voices which were played to ewes simultaneously with presentation of a moving model lamb when the lambs were 15-20 days and 40-50 days of age. The number of bleats made by the ewes during playback of own and alien lamb voices was recorded and then the number of times a ewe bleated in answer to a lamb's bleats within 2 s of hearing the lamb bleat was counted. At both age groups the ewes bleated more in response to recordings of their own lambs than to alien lambs, and answered their own lamb's bleats more than alien bleats. The frequency of the ewes bleats increased more to their own lamb's bleats than to alien bleats. The Soay ewes bleated less than the other breeds and the Jacob ewes were the most vocal.

Affiliations: 1: ARC Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham, Cambridge, England

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