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A Comparison of Wooden Slats and Straw Bedding on the Behaviour of Sheep

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Abstract:

The behaviour of two groups of sheep was observed when they were placed in a pen on wooden slats and/or on straw bedding for 48h. When sheep were placed in the pen and not given a choice of slats and straw, the proportion of scans spent standing and lying by one group of sheep were not affected by floor surface, whereas another group lay down more on the straw than on the slats during the first 24h in the pen. There was more movement when on straw than on slats. When given a choice of either slats or straw for 48h, the sheep spent more than half of the scans on straw. The study showed that sheep show a preference for lying down on straw compared with wooden slats. However, sheep will lie down on wooden slats. Although straw is, quite rightly, recommended as a suitable surface for lying, there was little evidence in this study that slats provide an unsuitable surface for a slaughterhouse lairage pen.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BEHAVIOUR; FLOOR; SHEEP

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: 1995-05-01

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