Articles | Volume 44, issue 4
10 Oct 2001
 | 10 Oct 2001

The social behaviour of East Friesian dairy sheep in larger groups

C. Gräser-Herrmann and H. H. Sambraus

Abstract. East Friesian dairy sheep are on the one hand loners and individualists. In practice, however, it has become increasingly common to keep animals of this breed in larger herds too. The social behaviour was examined as well as the marching and milking order of three herds with 24, 35 and 39 lactating ewes. In all three herds a marked social ranking could be proven. The social rank was correlated with both the age and the weight of the animal. A significant relationship was found in two of the three herds between rank and milk yield. As well as this, it was proven that East Friesian dairy sheep have quite a marked marching and milking order. Each animal constantly takes on more-or-less the same position in the order.

The close bond of this breed with human beings seems to be a result of intensive contact with the animals. No reason was found to prevent the East Friesian dairy sheep being kept in groups of around 40 animals. This can be done on condition that the animals have adequate room and access to the resources satisfying their needs.