The behaviour of sheep with sheep scab, Psoroptes ovis infestation.


Methods of behavioural data collection as applied to the study of sheep scab are described. The behaviour of a number of marked animals within an affected flock was recorded using an event recorder. Focal sampled data were analysed for duration and frequency of the observed behaviours. In addition, the flock was observed at intervals and the instantaneous behaviour of each animal recorded. These data were compared with similar observational data from the same flock recorded at intervals during post-treatment recovery. Sheep scab resulted in pathological behaviours of rubbing, scratching and biting at the lesion, and these resulted in interruption of the normal behaviours, grazing, cudding and idling, but did not result in reduced levels of these behaviours. Infested sheep showed stereotypic mouthing behaviour, initiated by rubbing or scratching, or in some cases without any external stimulus. No stereotypic behaviour was seen in animals after treatment. The implications of the behavioural data for the welfare of the sheep is discussed.