Methods for measuring feeding motivation in sheep



Title Methods for measuring feeding motivation in sheep
Author(s) R. E. Jackson, N. K. Waran, M. S. Cockram
Journal Animal Welfare
Date 1999
Volume 8
Issue 1
Start page 53
End page 63
Abstract An operant crate and a push-door were used to measure feeding motivation in Suffolk sheep (2-4 years of age) after 0, 6, 12, 18 and 24 h without feed. In experiment 1 (n=12), sheep had to push a panel with their noses to obtain a feed reward. In experiment 2 (n=14), sheep had to run a race and push through a weighted door to reach feed; the time taken to reach various points was recorded and the work performed to push through the door was calculated. In experiment 1, 3 out of 12 sheep became trained to push the panel and there was a difference in the mean number of rewards/session obtained by each (P<0.05). There was no effect of treatment on the number of panel presses performed. In experiment 2, ten out of 14 sheep were successfully trained. More sheep went through the push-door when deprived of feed (P<0.05), and they were quicker to enter the race, reach the push-door, and reach the feed than those which had not been deprived (P<0.0001). They also spent less time pushing the door than non-deprived sheep (P<0.0001). The push-door was a more appropriate method of measuring motivation to feed in sheep, as more sheep learned the task in less time than for the operant crate. As measured by the time taken to enter the race, reach the push-door, push through the door and reach the feed there was an increase in feeding motivation after only 6 h without feed.

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