UCD Animal Science Study Needs Sheep Producers with 40 Head or more for Behavior Study

Nov 6, 2019
Mendocino/Lake Sheep Producers: See details below. If you can help us out let me know. 
UC Davis & UCCE Looking for Producers to Participate in Study
Investigating the Relationship between Docility and Maternal Behavior in Rangeland Ewes
In a collaborative effort by the Department of Animal Science of UC Davis and UC Cooperative Extension, we are gathering producer interest to participate in a research study of ewe behavior and production.
This study will evaluate whether individual differences in ‘ease of handling' among multiple flocks of extensively-managed ewes are related to maternal behavior and production success. Managing sheep on range comes with many challenges that demand a substantial amount of producer effort, time, and money. These challenges, such as predator invasion, incremental weather conditions, and disease management, can be especially harmful during the lambing season when issues such as lamb survival and mis-mothering by the ewe can occur. Our research team will investigate whether we can identify behavior traits among breeding ewes which predict the highest quality maternal care and productivity for pasture lambing flocks.
Specific Requirements for Study Participation:
WHO: Producers of small-to-large flocks (> 40 ewes) in Northern California, with meat breeds preferred, and pasture lambing required (late winter to spring lambing preferred).
WHEN: Our research team will collaborate with cooperating producers to develop a specific schedule for behavioral observations and collection of biological samples, with minimal change to each producer's current schedule. This study will begin in January 2020 and conclude in December 2021.
WHAT: Portion of flock (at least 40 ewes) will be visually marked (wool-safe marking fluid) for behavioral observation during and after handling events (pre and post lambing). When necessary, a portable corral system will be set-up at each site for behavior data collection.
WHY: This study is the first step toward validating ewe behavior as an important (and possibly heritable) trait to enhance selective breeding practices (e.g., Estimated Breeding Values). Cooperators will receive detailed information relevant to their flock regarding the impact of ewe behavioral traits on maternal success and lamb outcome.
Contact Info: Kaleiah Schiller - email: kmschiller@ucdavis.edu; cell: 612-916-4382

By John M Harper
Author - Livestock & Natural Resources Advisor