Maternal Behaviour Scoring

Maternal behaviour refers to the ewe’s behaviour towards its lamb(s). It can be scored through assessing the distance a ewe travels from the lamb when handled by operators when tagging at birth. Maternal behaviour can vary from the ewe staying close by to running away and not coming back. A breeding value for maternal behaviour score (MBS) can be estimated as long as the trait is measured in a consistent manner across flocks. Repeated measurements of the ewe over her life will increase the accuracy of the breeding value estimated.

When: Within 24 hours of parturition /birth

How to score: A single score of 1,2,3,4 or 5. MBS Scores can be recorded with your mating information and submitted to Sheep Genetics.

Rule of Thumb: A ewe with Score 1 shows excellent maternal behaviour and stays close to the lamb. A ewe with Score 5 shows poor maternal behaviour and little interest in the lamb.

Score   Description 
 1 Ewe stays close to the lamb and operator
 2 Ewe stays within 10 meters of the lamb and operator

Ewe stays within 30 meters of the lamb and operator 


Ewe ran away but readily returned when operators moved away


Ewe ran away and was difficult to get to return to the lamb