Resting behaviour of sheep in a slaughterhouse lairage

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Title Resting behaviour of sheep in a slaughterhouse lairage
Author(s) F. B. Kim, R. E. Jackson, G. D. H. Gordon, M. S. Cockram
Journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Date 1994
Volume 40
Issue 1
Start page 45
End page 54
Abstract Groups of sheep were observed in a slaughterhouse lairage in order to investigate the factors affecting their ability to rest. 34 groups were observed using a video camera and recorder from arrival to dusk (evening) and from dawn to removal (morning). 19 groups were transported by road to the slaughterhouse direct from farms and 15 groups were from markets. Continuous direct observations of focal sheep from 34 groups were made during their first 2 h in the lairage. 16 of these groups were transported by road to the slaughterhouse direct from farms and 18 groups were from markets. Sheep kept on wooden slats did lie down and rest during overnight lairage. During the evening period almost half of the time was spent with greater than one-third lying down. Movement by the group as a whole represented a small proportion of the time during the evening and morning periods. During the first 2 h in the lairage, sheep from markets lay down at a faster rate than those direct from farms . Most of the sheep lay down for most of the time during the morning period. Within the group and pen sizes studied, a space allowance of greater than 1 m² per sheep was required before most of the sheep within a group lay down. However, the provision of greater than 1 m² per sheep did not always result in greater than two-thirds of the sheep within a group lying down. During the first 2 h in the lairage, the mean proportion of scans at which focal sheep from markets were observed eating was greater than those direct from farms, the mean number of drinking events in market sheep was greater than those in sheep direct from farms. The presence of humans in the passageway was associated with head alert reactions, movement and decreased lying behaviour in the sheep.

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