Feeding behaviour and the intake of food and water by sheep after a period of deprivation lasting 14 h


After 14 h of confinement in a stationary trailer, sheep were found to have lost proportionately a mean of 0.057 of their body weight. Two experiments, one with a heterogeneous flock (28.6 to 93.2 kg body weight) and the other with a more homogeneous flock (32.4 to 46.6 kg) showed very little recovery of this loss after 1 h of ad libitum food and water. When offered familiar concentrates, sheep ate on average 1.2 kg per animal in the 1st h, water only being taken in quantity (>5.0 l per animal) in the next 6 h. Hay was taken at a much lower rate (0.25 kg per animal) and less water drunk (1.5 l per animal). Competitive social interactions were five times more frequent during hay feeding than during concentrate feeding. After 14 h of confinement a break of 1 h is evidently insufficient for feeding and watering and could result in poor welfare. If concentrates are offered, the resulting water deficit will not be redressed within 1 h, resulting in a strong motivation to drink when no water is available. If hay is offered, the heightened level of competitive social interaction could also result in poor welfare.