Bonding of young sheep to heifers

TitleBonding of young sheep to heifers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsAnderson D.M., Hulet CV, Smith J.N., Shupe, W. Larry, Murray L.W.
JournalApplied Animal Behavior Science
Date Published1987

Rambouillet X Polypay lambs, averaging 45, 62 and 90 days of age, were penned with 8-9-month-old heifers for 60 days. Following 30 and 60 days of pen confinement, the treated and control lamb-heifer groups were observed in a 120-ha paddock for interspecific and intraspecific aggregation or dispersion; i.e. cross species bonding. Interspecies distances averaged  ≤ 20 m in the treated groups vs. 600-1000 m in controls. Interspecific distance was not different between 45 and 90-day-old lambs. Treated lambs followed any heifer(s) which tolerated sheep. Bonding was poorly developed (lambs and heifers were widely separated) within the 62-day-old lamb-heifer group, possibly because two heifers periodically physically abused the lambs by butting and kicking them. It was concluded that 45 90-day-old lambs can be successfully bonded to cattle by penning the two animal species together for a period as short as 30 days.