The Establishment and Persistence of Food Preferences in Lambs Exposed to Selected Foods
Journal of Animal Science
American Society of Animal Science
Nolte, D. L., Provenza, F. D., & Balph, D. F. (1990). The establishment and persistence of food preferences in lambs exposed to selected foods. Journal of Animal Science, 68(4), 998-1002.
Our study determined whether lambs' food preferences developed as a result of exposure to specific foods early in life and whether the presence of the mother affected the development of dietary preferences. In the first experiment, lambs were fed wheat (W) and mountain mahogany (MM) (Cercocarpus montanus) from 50 to 110 d of age. After exposure to W and MM, lambs preferred (P < .05) W when offered with barley (B) but did not prefer (P > .05) MM when offered with serviceberry (SB) (Amelanchier alnifolia), probably because lambs were reluctant to eat mountain mahogany during exposure. Persistence was determined by dividing lambs exposed to W or MM into four groups: 1) continued exposure to W (MM); 2) exposure to B (SB); 3) no further exposure; and 4) exposure to W + B (MM +SB). Preferences for wheat persisted (P < .05) regardless of the second exposure. In the second experiment, lambs were exposed to W (MM) either alone or with their mothers. Persistence was determined after 21 d of exposure to B (SB). Lambs preferred (P < .05) W and MM whether they were exposed alone or with their mothers. However, preferences persisted longer in lambs exposed with their mothers. Finally, lambs exposed to either SB or MM with their mothers were later allowed to choose between SB or MM. Lambs strongly preferred (P < .05) the shrub to which they were exposed early in life.