The Effect of Temperament over the Maternal Behavior in Primiparous Dairy Sheep

Research Institute of Agricultural Science, BG - 6000 Stara Zagora, Bulgaria


PEEVA, Zh. H., 2009. The effect of temperament over the maternal behavior in primiparous dairy sheep. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 15: 84-89

The aim of this study was to examine the maternal behaviour by means of separation of the lamb(s) from the dam through the test „Mother – young separation” in primiparous dairy sheep of different temperament. The test was carried out in the individual cage, where the dam and young(s) were normally reared until the 7th day after birth. The data of the following primiparous animals were used: 12 Calm (C), 12 Nervous (N) and 10 sheep of the group P1 (with not defined temperament) born in the year 2000; 27 C, 10 N and 7 sheep of the group P1, born in 2001. The number of animals in each temperament group was selected according to the following criterion: type of lambing (single, twins); date of lambing ±10 days. The following parameters were recorded: Latency to approach the lambs to a distance of 1m(s); Latency to contact lamb(s); Latency to High – pitch bleats and Low pitch bleats, and their frequencies. Temperament was assessed in all 250 dairy ewes of the breed “Synthetic Bulgarian Dairy Population” from the experimental flock at the Research Institute of Agricultural Science (Stara Zagora), by different methods. The most typical animals of the C and N types were used. It was established that the temperament influenced the behavioral reactive abilities of the primiparous dairy sheep. The lambing stress at the first parity caused significant negative effect on the maternal behavior in the animals of the Nervous temperament. They showed a hesitation in joining the lamb after its separation aside, which was a sign of higher fear susceptibility compared to this of Calm temperament and group of ewes with not defined temperament (P1).

Key words: maternal behavior, temperament, primiparous dairy sheep

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