Heifer disposition and bonding of lambs to heifers

TitleHeifer disposition and bonding of lambs 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

Abusive and non-abusive (tolerant) heifers were individually identified during pen confinement with young sheep. Physical aggression by abusive heifers toward lambs included butting and kicking. Two groups of three 75-day-old lambs confined with tolerant heifers developed a bond after 20 days and a strong bond after 55 days. However, three lambs confined with abusive heifers were not bonded at 20 days, but formed a satisfactory bond with the cattle after 55 days as the cattle became more tolerant of the lambs. During pen confinement, lambs with abusive heifers spent 41% of the time in a creep area away from heifers. In contrast, lambs in two tolerant lamb-heifer groups spent only 15% of their time in the creep area. Heifers which are abusive to lambs should be identified and removed from lamb heifer groups if bonding is to be accomplished consistently and efficiently.