A quantitative ethogram of behavior of yearling ewes during two hours post-parturition

John J. McGlone, Robert H. Stobart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A total of 2130 behaviors representing 24 behavioral categories were observed during the period from parturition to lamb nursing for seven ewe-lamb pairs. Both individual behaviors and behavioral sequences were counted. Ewes showed a high frequency of licking, especially directed at the head (41% of licks) and anterior body (30% of licks) of their lambs. Licking followed a specific, non-random pattern. Ewes licked from front to back of their lambs. Ewes licked their lamb's anterior body and head immediately before their lambs stood. When the lambs sought teats, ewes either presented their udder to their lamb which facilitated nursing, or moved away from the lamb which delayed nursing. This research identified behaviors and behavioral sequences that may be used in future studies seeking to select for improved maternal ability or to design improved lambing environments. Finally, this work may lead to the generation of hypotheses which may be tested in future work examining behaviors involved as causal factors in lamb survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1986


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