Ewes are more attentive to their offspring experiencing pain but not stress

The goal of this experiment was to detect if maternal care by ewes could be effective in mitigating psychological or physiological stress or pain in their offspring. We hypothesised that ewes are able to recognise when their offspring undergo an adverse experience and will adapt their maternal behaviour to buffer the effect of such events. […]

Gentle vs. aversive handling of pregnant ewes: II. Physiology and behavior of the lambs

We compared the effects of aversive and gentle handling in late pregnant ewes on fearfulness, heart rate variability and spatial learning in lambs. Twenty-four Norwegian-Dala ewes were studied. Ewes were subjected to gentle (i.e. soft talking and calm behavior) or aversive handling (i.e. swift movements and shouting) for 10 min twice a day during the last […]

Assessment of unconsciousness during slaughter without stunning in lambs

The aim of this study was to assess brain activity in lambs during slaughter without stunning and its correlation with heart rate (HR) and the absence of physiological reflexes. The index of consciousness (IoC-view®) assesses consciousness by an algorithm that analyses the EEG and gives an index from 0 (unconscious) to 100 (conscious). Eight lambs […]

Do rubber rings coated with lignocaine reduce the pain associated with ring castration of lambs?

To facilitate the wider use of pain relief on-farm, practical ‘farmer friendly’ methods for administering pain relief are necessary. This proof of concept study evaluated the efficacy of rubber rings coated with local anaesthetic (LA, lignocaine) for providing pain relief in lambs castrated 4 weeks after birth. To eliminate any potential effects of blood sampling […]

Unloading or not unloading? Sheep welfare implication of rest stop at control post after a 29 h transport

In Europe, maximum journey time for transported sheep is set at 29 h (EC Regulation 1/2005), after which animals must be unloaded, fed and watered in control posts stopping for 24 h, as all other species, before continuing their journey. The industry considers these resting times too general, not taking into account the peculiar differences […]

The sucking behaviour and milk intake of one- to three-week-old triplet lambs during natural and competitive suckling situations

Within triplet litters, light-born lambs are at greater risk of dying than heavier lambs in the first week of life. However, the implications of within-litter differences in sucking behaviour for milk intake and growth beyond the first week are unclear. We hypothesized that within litter, triplets born lightest would still be lightest at one to […]

Relationships between temperament, feeding behaviour, social interactions, and stress in lambs adapting to a feedlot environment

The production of lamb meat is a large and important industry in Australia. Variability and seasonality of the climate and the demand for a consistent product (in terms of weight and age) have led to an increase in the use of feedlot systems for finishing lambs. While most lambs acclimatise to this environment, an estimated […]

The effect of trough space and floor space on feeding and welfare of lambs in an intensive finishing system

This study examined the effects of floor space and feeder space on the feeding behaviour, growth and stress physiology of lambs, at different times, over a 6-week period in a finishing feedlot. A total of 640 lambs in four time replicates (160 lambs per replicate) were studied in four 40-lamb intensive finishing systems (feedlots) for […]

Scientific evaluation of animal emotions: Brief history and recent New Zealand contributions

The idea of animals having emotions was once rejected as being anthropomorphic and unscientific. However, with society’s changing views and advances in scientific knowledge and technology, the idea of animal emotions is becoming more accepted. Emotions are subjective internal experiences that can’t be measured directly. Animal welfare scientists must infer emotions by measuring the behavioural, […]