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Diagnostic significance of behaviour changes of sheep: A selected review

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ilias Kyriazakis


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Sheep welfare is the combination of subjective and objective (qualitative and quantitative) aspects of the conditions of life of animals, including health and disease, behaviour, husbandry and management; thus, it is a complex and abstract construct. The scientific approach to the problems of assessing suffering in sheep has to be evidence-based. Different approaches contribute to an assessment of animal suffering, such as measurements of physical damage to the animal, measurement of the animals’ preferences and considerations of the conditions to which the animal is adapted in its normal social structure. Selected literature on the behavioural alterations of sheep, which indicate internal or external distressing procedures, is reviewed in this paper. There is a need for further research to identify indicators of distress in sheep, but in the meantime it would be reasonable to make the judgement that, in some circumstances, sheep observed vocalising, panting, showing markedly increased locomotory activity and/or changes in feeding or social patterns could be experiencing distress.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gougoulis DA, Kyriazakis I, Fthenakis GC

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Small Ruminant Research

Year: 2010

Volume: 92

Issue: 1-3

Pages: 52-56

Print publication date: 04/05/2010

ISSN (print): 0921-4488


DOI: 10.1016/j.smallrumres.2010.04.018