Identifying inanition in lambs in feedlots (#248)
An estimated 5-20% of lambs introduced to feedlots are prone to ‘shy-feeding’ or inanition. Several factors considered to contribute to the condition of shy-feeding include: neophobia (environment and concentrated feeds), acidosis and competition around feeding, however little is known about the individual characteristics of these animals. This study investigated some individual characteristics associated with shy-feeding, which may provide useful information to enable early identification of vulnerable animals. Forty lambs in a feedlot pen were studied in 3 time replicates (120 lambs total) over 16 months. This study focused on the behaviour of lambs in the first 2 weeks in the feedlot. Lambs were provided with 2 m2 floor space and 4 cm trough length each. Weights and 24 h feeding behaviour (time feeding) were recorded in weeks 1 and 2. Based on total time spent feeding over a 24 h period in week 1, lambs were categorized into two distinct groups: “Shy-feeders” (<30 min feeding, n=19) and “Feeders” (>1 hour feeding, n=101). Accumulated analysis of variance was used to compare entry weights and growth (live weight change) of each group in weeks 1 and 2. There was no difference in entry weight between Shy-feeders and Feeders (P=0.18). Shy-feeding animals performed poorly in terms of growth in week 1 compared to the Feeders (P< 0.001, Est. mean difference 4.0kg), although there was some compensatory growth in week 2 (P=0.003, Est. mean difference -1.0kg). While it is generally considered that shy-feeders do not feed at all, these results indicate that these animals do access the feeder, though only for a short duration. Thus current methods of detecting shy-feeding that involve identifying those animals that have not accessed the feeder may not be the most effective method and may in fact be underestimating the problem.