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Differences in the sexual attractiveness of estrous ewes to rams

, : Differences in the sexual attractiveness of estrous ewes to rams. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 17(1-2): 129-138

This experiment tested the hypotheses that oestrous ewes differ in sexual "attractiveness" to rams, that different rams will rank ewes in a similar order of "attractivenss", that rams will rank ewes similarly for "attractiveness" the next time the ewes are in oestrus and tht the soliciting behaviour of a ewe is not a feature of her sexual "attractiveness". A test for ewe "attractiveness" was developed that consisted of presenting 6 oestrous ewes to a ram and recording the time spent by the ram courting and mating each ewe. Every 5 min, the ewe which the ram had spent most time was removed from the pen. The first ewe removed was classed as the most "attractive" (ranked 1) and the last remaining ewe was the least "attractive" (ranked 6). In a first experiment, 10 rams individually ranked 2 groups of 6 oestrous ewes for sexual "attractiveness". Ewes from each group were brought into oestrous 16 days after their first oestrus and again ranked for "attractiveness" by the 10 rams. Ewes differed in "attractiveness", the 10 rams ranked the ewes in both groups in a similar order of "attractiveness" (P < 0.01) and this order was similar over two oestrous periods (Group 1, rs=0.95; Group 2, rs=0.91). In a second experiment, the 10 rams ranked the two groups of ewes for sexual "attractiveness" when the ewes were free and when they were tethered to reduce their soliciting activity. The order of "attractiveness" of ewes was similar in both groups (Group 1, rs=0.97; Group 2, rs=0.98). These results indicate that the components of ewe "attractiveness" are characteristic of the ewe and are relatively stable over at least two oestrous periods. It also appears that the soliciting behaviour of the ewe is not a major determinant of her sexual "attractiveness".

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