Lambs Form Preferences for Nonnutritive Flavors Paired with Glucose

E. A. Burritt
F. D. Provenza


We studied lambs' preferences for nonnutritive flavors that were paired with a glucose solution. On the 1st d of the experiment, lambs were offered a saccharin solution flavored with either orange or grape. The following day lambs received a glucose solution containing either orange or grape flavor. Lambs that had received grape and saccharin on d 1 received orange and glucose on d 2, and the reverse was true for the remaining lambs. Conditioning lasted 10 d; odd days were like the first and even days like the second. After conditioning, when lambs were offered a choice between orange- or grape-flavored water without sweeteners, lambs chose the flavor that had been paired with glucose. We also tested the initial hedonic response of naive lambs to the flavor of glucose and saccharin solutions. Lambs exhibited no initial preference. Our results indicate that lambs preferred the flavor that was paired with glucose (calories). Furthermore, results of this study suggest that ruminants may not innately recognize specific chemical constituents in foods or select diets based on initial hedonic value. Rather, learning plays a key role in the formation of dietary preference.