Subclinical mastitis changes the patterns of maternal-offspring behaviour in dairy sheep
AuthorGougoulis, D. A.; Kyriazakis, I.; Papaioannou, N.; Papadopoulos, E.; Taitzoglou, I. A.; Fthenakis, G. C.
Subclinical mastitis was induced by inoculating one mammary gland in dairy ewes (n = 8) with a Staphylococcus simulans isolate; control ewes (n = 4) were included. The milk yield of inoculated glands decreased (P < 0.001), the California Mastitis Test (CMT) score increased and the organism could be recovered from the inoculated glands. With time, there was significantly increased frequency of "hindering sucking" (P = 0.016) and "head up posture" (P < 0.001) in the control ewes. Infected ewes had a significantly increased frequency of "vocalisation" (P = 0.013) compared to controls. There was a significant difference in the frequency of "sucking attempt" and "successful suck" (P < 0.05) behaviours between lambs of the two groups. Lambs of the challenged ewes also showed significantly increased frequency and duration of these behaviours towards the uninoculated glands of their dams, rather than to the challenged glands (P < 0.05); no such difference was evident for the lambs of control ewes. It was concluded that subclinical mastitis alters the sucking behaviour of both ewes and lambs. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.