Mateo, J.M., Estep, D.Q., & McCann, J.S. 1991. Effects of differential handling on the behaviour of domestic ewes (Ovis aries). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 32, 45-54.
Thirty-three Suffolk and Suffolk × Hampshire ewe lambs raised under two different management systems were subjected to one of three handling regimens for 3 weeks. One group of 11 animals was exposed daily to gentle handling, while a second group of 11 was exposed daily to forced human handling. A third group of 10 animals received no handling. The animals were tested prior to handling training, just after training, and 3 weeks after the last training period on four standardized tests designed to simulate typical management practices. These included a test of approachability to the handler, movement through a chute, halter-restraint in proximity to the handler and simulated shearing. Results showed significant effects for gentle handling and for the source of the sheep in measures of approachability, but no effects in the other tests. Thus brief gentle contacts with handlers can improve the approachability of sheep, but breed or prior experience can modulate these effects.