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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium, 18-20 May 2005 (Beijing, China) Publication Date 18 May 2005  701P0205.(doi:10.13031/2013.18424)
Authors:   K. E. Bøe , S. Berg and I.L. Andersen
Keywords:   Sheep housing, space allowance, behaviour

Increased space allowance is usually considered to improve welfare and performance in both cattle and pigs. However, for sheep there is a lack of data that elucidate the effect of reduced space allowance. The aim of this experiment was to investigate the effect of pen shape and space allowance on the behaviour of ewes. A 2 x 3 factorial experiment was conducted with pen shape (deep and wide) and lying space (0.5, 0.75 and 1.0 m2/ewe) as main factors. A total of 24 adult ewes were randomly assigned to six groups with four adult ewes in each group. All groups were exposed to all the treatments and each treatment period lasted for seven days. The ewes were videotaped for the two last days of each treatment period, and the general activity, position in the pen and lying close to other ewes were scored every 15 minutes. In addition all displacements were scored continuously.

Total lying time was reduced from 70 % to 63 % when the lying area was reduced from 1.0 m2 to 0.5 m2 (P < 0.05). Synchronisation of lying (all ewes lying simultaneously) was reduced from 45.4 % to 5.9 % (P < 0.001) whereas the number of displacements of lying ewes (per ewe and 24 h) increased from 6.4 to 28.9 (P < 0.001) as the lying area was reduced. Pen shape had no effect on the behaviour of the ewes. Hence, when ewes are housed indoors, they should be provided with a resting area of at least 1.0 m2 per ewe.

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