The Science Behind the Ewe-Lamb Bond and Why it Matters

It’s estimated that lamb losses amount to over $5 million a year to the Ontario sheep industry — and that’s just Ontario. For an industry that’s trying to off-set significant imports from the likes of New Zealand and Australia, those lost lambs amount to lost market share.

While some losses occur in pregnancy, the majority occur during lambing and the first 24-48 hours post-birth, says Delma Kennedy with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Unless sheep farmers are holding lamb losses to 5% or less, there are several strategies available to improve lamb survivability.

At the recent Ontario Sheep Convention, held at Alliston, Ont., Dr. Cathy Dwyer, animal behaviour specialist with Scotland’s Rural College, outlined key aspects of those strategies, including understanding and promoting the ewe-lamb bond in that critical first hour post-lambing.

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