Sheep Research Journal, 1992. Paper abstract bibtex
A promising method for bonding lambs to cattle in the field is described. Lambs born in a flerd (bonded small ruminants and cattle) to bonded dams are vulnerable to coyote predation because bonded ewes tend to isolate themselves from the flerd and the protection cattle provide during the neonatal period. Therefore, ewes and their lambs were gathered soon after birth and maintained in drylot safe from predation until lambs were about 50 days of age. Ewe-lamb pairs were then returned to the flerd. The flerd-bonded lambs (FB) stayed with their dams in association with cattle. Dams were removed from the flerd for 5 days when lambs averaged about 150 days of age to effect weaning. The lambs remained with the flerd. The affinity of these lambs for the flerd and their survival over the following 96-day period was compared to a peer group of 10 lambs bonded to cattle by traditional close-pen confinement (PB) of the two species for 34 days. Group behavior of the two bonding treatments, each replicated once, were similar. These two treatment groups of lambs were then tested for affinity to cattle independently of other sheep or goats. Affinity for cattle varied but was demonstrated by both treatment groups. However, one replicate of field-bonded lambs demonstrated less affinity (P=0.003) for cattle than the other field-bonded group. This was probably due to individual animal differences within replicates. When lambs from the two bonding treatments were combined and tested over an extended period of time, all lambs reacted similarly (P=0.900) and consistently demonstrated affinity for cattle. Once test groups were reunited with the flerd, all lambs consistently stayed near cattle.