Document Detail

From birth to colostrum: early steps leading to lamb survival.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16824451     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
New-born lambs have limited energy reserves and need a rapid access to colostrum to maintain homeothermy and survive. In addition to energy, colostrum provides immunoglobulins which ensure passive systemic immunity. Therefore, getting early access to the udder is essential for the neonate. The results from the literature reviewed here highlight the importance of the birth site as the location where the mutual bonding between the mother and her young takes place. Attraction to birth fluids by the periparturient ewe leads to intense licking of the lamb. Grooming not only dries, cleans and stimulates the newborn it also facilitates bonding through learning of its individual odour. Ewes having twins should ideally stay on the birth site for at least six hours in order to establish a strong bond with both lambs and favour lambs survival. However, primiparous ewes or ewes having high levels of emotivity are more likely to exhibit poor maternal behaviour. In addition, difficult parturition and weather conditions have an indirect effect on the behaviour of the mother and are other major causes of lamb death. On the lamb's side, rapid access to the udder and early suckling are extremely important. Delayed lactation or insufficient colostrum yield may be fatal especially since suckling has strong rewarding properties in the establishment of a preference for the mother, which in turn increases lamb survival. Insufficient access to the udder in mothers leaving the birth site too soon after parturition, especially in twin-bearing ewes, could also partly account for the high incidence of loss of mother-young contact and subsequent death in such lambs. Strategies to improve neonatal survival should be aimed at maximising lamb vigour, colostrum production, and mutual mother-young bonding through adequate feeding in late pregnancy and selection on behaviour.
Raymond Nowak; Pascal Poindron
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review     Date:  2006-07-07
Journal Detail:
Title:  Reproduction, nutrition, development     Volume:  46     ISSN:  0926-5287     ISO Abbreviation:  Reprod. Nutr. Dev.     Publication Date:    2006 Jul-Aug
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2006-07-07     Completed Date:  2006-10-11     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8913069     Medline TA:  Reprod Nutr Dev     Country:  France    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  431-46     Citation Subset:  IM    
Laboratoire de Comportements, Neurobiologie et Adaptation, UMR 6175 CNRS-INRA-Université François Rabelais-Haras Nationaux, Unité de Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, INRA, 37380 Nouzilly, France.
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MeSH Terms
Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
Animals, Newborn / growth & development*
Animals, Suckling / growth & development
Behavior, Animal / physiology*
Birth Weight
Colostrum / physiology
Litter Size
Maternal Behavior / physiology*
Sheep / physiology*
Survival Rate

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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