Improving lamb survival and growth to weaning

Smith, Amber
University of New England


The following is a summary submitted with the application. The student’s thesis/abstract has not been received.

Recent development of autonomous on-animal sensors, allows easy and affordable investigation of the effect of ewe and lamb proximity and suckling events. During the lactation period the ability to identify an early ewe-lamb bond and increased suckling events, will improve lamb survival, growth rate and weaning weight.

This project aims to improve lamb survival and growth to weaning, as well as weaner survival and performance through to hogget stage. Increasing production of individual animals is vital for wool sheep and red meat producers, to ensure economic viability and market advantage.

Long term, the outcome of this project will deliver new maternal behaviour traits or correlations to existing
commercial traits, which can be used in a breeding program to improve reproductive ability.

The three project objectives are:

  • Demonstrate lambs with an early ewe-lamb bond, shown by proximity and a high number and longer duration of suckling events, will have higher weaning weights.
  • Identify maternal behaviour using proximity and suckling events to correlate with current recorded
  • Demonstrate the use of automated technology to measure maternal behaviour and weaner