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Title: Maternal behaviour in the ewe : consistency in the expression of maternal behaviour during lactation and the effect of variation in dam and sire breed on the development of offspring
Author: Pickup, Helena E.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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Consistency in the expression of maternal care over a single lactation period was investigated using two breeds of ewe, Scottish Blackface and Suffolk. The two breeds showed differnces in their initial maternal behaviour with Blackface ewes showing more affiliative and less negative behaviour towards their newborn lambs than Suffolk ewes. These differences in maternal behaviour continued throughout lactation. Whilst both breeds were able to recognise their lambs at three days post-partum, Blackface ewes were more motivated to associate with their lambs in a maternal choice test, suggesting that they had a stronger ewe-lamb bond than Suffolk ewes. During the rest of lactation Blackface ewes had a closer spatial relationship with their lambs, accepted a higher proportion of suck attempt from their lambs and showed more communication with them via the head-up posture, compared to Suffolk ewes. Blackface ewes actively interacted with their lambs, using the head-up posture to control sucking interactions and to encourage their lambs to remain in close proximity. In contrast Suffolk ewes were not proactive in their relationship with their lambs and appeared to react to the behaviour of their lambs, rather than actively communicating with them. A Principle Components Factor Analysis showed that two main factors, maternal rejection and maternal protectiveness, can be used to describe variation in maternal behaviour in the ewe. Maternal rejection accounted for most of the variation between the two breeds, with Blackface ewes showing mostly affiliative behaviour and Suffolk ewes showing more negative behaviour. Within the two breeds variation was mainly due to behaviours associated with maternal protectiveness. Individual Blackface ewes showed consistency in their expression of maternal behaviour throughout lactation, but Suffolk ewes did not. This is likely to result in a stable ewe-lamb relationship in Suffolk ewes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available