Animal Industry Report

Extension Number

ASL R3182


Small Ruminants

Summary and Implications

Theobjectivesof this experiment were (1) to determine if experienceaffects maze entrance and exit order and (2) how temperament affects ewe lamb coping response to a predictable novel stimulus. A total of nine, ~4-month-old blackface Hampshire-cross ewe lambs, BW~18 to 27 kg were used.Ewe lamb temperament was identified and three groups of ewe lambs were created. Each group hada BOLD, MODERATEand SHYewe lamb.All ewe lambs were introduced and habituated to themaze for four consecutive days (days -3 to day 0),respectively.On trial day 1, Group 1 (EXPERIENCED)passed through the maze. On trial day 2, Groups 1 and 2 (MIDDLE) passed through the maze. On trial day 3, Groups 1, 2 and 3 (NAÏVE) passed through the maze. Over these trial days, ewe lambs were exposed to a red ball and a red flag (novel stimuli). Behavioral measures(order to enter and exit the maze and coping style [active vs passive]) werecollected over four habituation days (-3, -2, -1 and0), and over three trialdays (1, 2 and 3),respectively.The data will be presented descriptively. Ewe lamb 1936 had the highest number of cone touches, with 1943 having the leastover the 1-h observation period. For the BOLDgroup the cone touches ranged from 7 to 10, MODERATEranged from 5 to 6 and SHYranged from 0 to 4 respectively. Over all entry days a BOLDewe lamb entered and exited the maze first, but it was not always the same BOLDewe lamb. There was no consistent ewe lamb order for entering or exiting the maze for MODERATEor SHYtemperament classification. Ewe lambs for both stimuli engaged in a passive coping style (77.8%). In conclusion, ewe lambs, regardless of temperament, did not react negatively to a novel stimuli. Furthermore, experience to the maze did not affect entrance and exit order and all ewe lambs navigated the maze in less than 15-seconds over all trial days. We predict that this behavioral reactivity would enable producers to handle ewe lambs effectively in a handling system for necessary husbandry practices without undue animal welfare issues.