Prevalence and Incidence of Abnormal Behaviours in Individually Housed Sheep
Animal Welfare Science Centre, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia
Animal Welfare Science Centre, The Department of Primary Industries, 600 Sneydes Road, Werribee, Victoria 3030, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Present address: The Department of Primary Industries, 475 Mickelham Road, Attwood, Victoria 3049, Australia.
Received: 18 January 2012 / Revised: 31 January 2012 / Accepted: 1 February 2012 / Published: 6 February 2012
Concern has been raised in Australia about the welfare of individually penned sheep housed indoors. This study examined the prevalence and incidence of abnormal behaviours in 96 individually housed sheep. Almost three quarters of the sheep displayed one or more of the behaviours of pacing, and chewing and nosing pen fixtures for more than 10% of the day. The prevalence and incidence of these ‘abnormal’ behaviours appears high, but without a comprehensive appreciation of other aspects of the animal’s biology, such as stress physiology and fitness characteristics, it’s difficult to understand the welfare implications of these behaviours.