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Observations On Vocalization of Ewes and Lambs in the Field

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Dalesbred, Jacob and Soay ewes were observed with their lambs in the field for 3 months, to record when vocalizations occurred and the subsequent behavioural interactions. Soay ewes bleated and moved towards their lambs more than the Dalesbred and Jacob ewes, and were the least vocal in response to the lamb's bleats. The Soay lambs had the lowest proportion of vocal responses without movement to the ewe's bleats, but were more likely to bleat themselves and run to their dam, than the Dalesbred and Jacob lambs. They also had a low proportion of results in the category 'No response'. Dalesbred ewes bleated in reply to their lamb's bleats without moving toward the lambs, more than the other breeds. The Dalesbred lambs bleated and ran to the ewes in response to the ewe bleats more than the Jacob and Soay lambs, and the proportion of this response increased with age. The Jacob ewes and lambs had the highest incidence of 'no response' recorded to their vocalization. These results are discussed in relation to experimental findings on vocalizations in sheep, and it is suggested that domestication has tended to increase the amount of bleating by sheep.

Affiliations: 1: (Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham, Cambridge, CB2 4AT England


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