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Bleating Behaviour of Dalesbred and Jacob Ewes in Sight of Lambs

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The number of bleats made by Jacob and Dalesbred ewes during 120 sec were counted after separation from their lambs, when they could see their own and alien lambs 4 m away, and after the lambs had been removed. The Jacob ewes bleated more than the Dalesbred ewes except when the Dalesbreds could see their own lambs and for 30 sec after the lambs were removed. Both breeds increased their bleating more to own lambs than to alien lambs, but the difference was significantly greater throughout the 120 sec for the Dalesbred ewes bleating at lambs of either 10 or 20 days of age. The Jacob ewes differentiated more between own and alien when the lambs were 20 days old. When their own 10 day old lambs were removed, both breeds bleated more than after removal of alien lambs. When lambs were removed at 20 days, only Dalesbreds bleated more to their own. It is suggested that different breeds of sheep use vocalisation in different ways and that Jacob ewes bleat more in any situation, whereas Dalesbreds bleat more to communicate with their own lambs.

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


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