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Space allowance and flooring in pregnant ewes

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

Citation:  10th International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES X)  .(doi:10.13031/iles.18-089)
Authors:   Knut Egil Bøe, Stine Grønmo Kischel
Keywords:   Behavior, ewes, slatted flooring, space allowance, straw bedding.

Abstract. The aim of the present experiment was to investigate the effect of space allowance and floor type on the behavior of pregnant ewes. A 3x2 factorial experiment was set up with space allowance (0.75, 1.50 and 2.25 m2/ewe) and type of flooring (straw bedding and expanded metal flooring) as the main factors. A total of 48 pregnant ewes were randomly assigned to 6 groups with 8 ewes in each group. All groups were exposed to each treatment for 7 days and video recorded for 24 hours at the end of each experimental period. Mean lying time (P < 0.0001) and time spent lying simultaneously (P < 0.0001) increased whereas time spent eating (P < 0.001) and standing (P < 0.01) decreased when space allowance increased from 0.75 to 1.50 m2/ewe. Increasing the space allowance further to 2.25 m2/ewe, however, had no effect on these parameters. Sitting was only observed in the 0.75 m2/ewe treatment. Type of flooring had no significant effect on general activity. Proportion of time spent lying against side walls increased (P < 0.0001) whereas lying against the back wall decreased (P < 0.0001) when increasing the space allowance. Total number of displacements when lying (P < 0.0001) and total aggressive interactions when active (P < 0.01) decreased when space allowance increased from 0.75 to 1.50 m2/ewe. In conclusion, increasing space allowance from 0.75 to 1.50 m2/ewe resulted in increased lying time, more simultaneous lying and fewer displacements and aggressive interactions.

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