Hägnstorlekens betydelse för fårs aktivitet och uppvisande av positiva beteenden

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Animal Environment and Health

Abstract: Animals who live in captivity has a limited area to live on which can affect their life quality and natural social behaviors. Animals at a zoo meet a lot of known and unknown humans every day, and that can be both positive and negative for the animals. Sheep has a complex social structure and their social behaviors can vary a lot depending on the composition of the group. In the wild ewes live in family groups with their offspring, and the rams live in bachelor groups from when they are sexually mature. Sheep do not have a direct hierarchy, instead it is the strong sense of cohesion of the herd that keeps them together. Usually it is an older ewe who chooses places to eat or rest, and her offspring follows her. Play behavior is an indicator of absence of poor welfare and play is one behavior that is self rewarding for animals which gives them a positive feeling. Among sheep and especially lambs playful social behaviors consist of head-bumping, touch and mounting. Previous studies on calves and heifers has shown an increase in activity and play behaviors when released in a larger enclosure. Other studies’ results have suggested that animals show anticipation behaviors when a positive event is about to happen. The aim of this study was to examine if the Gute sheep at Skansen, Stockholm, would be more active and display more positive behavior when allowed into a larger enclosure. Furthermore, this study examines how much the sheep interact with their enrichment. The behaviors of the Gute sheep at Skansen were recorded with instantaneous scan sampling and behaviour sampling with continuous recording. The results showed that the sheep showed less feeding behaviors and more of the active behaviors in the larger enclosure, but the passive behaviors were on almost the same level as in the original enclosure. Overall the sheep were more active in the larger enclosure. When looking into more specific behaviors laying down was only shown in the original enclosure, but the behaviors of movement, socially and exploring were shown more in the larger enclosure. The results also pointed at the sheep showed anticipation behaviors when they were about to be released to the larger enclosure, and that the showed more positive behaviors when in the larger enclosure. Such as more social contact and play behaviours. Why the sheep showed some of their behaviors needs to be further investigated, and due to limited numbers of individuals in this study and the short time the study was conducted, the results can not be generalized to all sheep. For more generalized results and answers too why some behaviors were shown further research is required.

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