Length of docked tail and the incidence of rectal prolapse in lambs

D. L. Thomas, D. F. Waldron, G. D. Lowe, D. G. Morrical, H. H. Meyer, R. A. High, Y. M. Berger, D. D. Clevenger, G. E. Fogle, R. G. Gottfredson, Steven Loerch, K. E. McClure, T. D. Willingham, D. L. Zartman, R. D. Zelinsky

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Abstract

A multistate cooperative study was conducted to study the current issue of tail length in docked lambs and its relationship to incidence of rectal prolapse. A total of 1,227 lambs at six locations were randomly allocated to two or three tail dock treatments: 1) short - tail was removed as close to the body as possible, 2) medium - tail was removed at a location midway between the attachment of the tail to the body and the attachment of the caudal folds to the tail, and 3) long - tail was removed at the attachment of the caudal folds to the tail. Short-docked lambs had a greater (P < 0.05) incidence of rectal prolapse (7.8%) than lambs with a medium (4.0%) or a long (1.8%) dock. Female lambs had a higher (P < 0.05) incidence of rectal prolapse than male lambs. At two stations, lambs were finished either in a feedlot on a high-concentrate diet or on pasture with no grain supplementation. At one station, with a very low incidence of rectal prolapse, there was no difference in incidence between lambs finished in the feedlot or on pasture; however, at the station with a relatively high incidence of rectal prolapse, lambs in the feedlot had a higher (P < 0.05) incidence than lambs on pasture. The half-sib estimate of heritability for the incidence of rectal prolapse was low (0.14). The results of this study strongly implicate short dock length as a cause of rectal prolapse in lambs finished on high-concentrate diets. Furthermore, the results of this study and the only other study known conducted on this issue strongly suggest that docking lambs at the site of the attachment of the caudal folds to the tail will result in a negligible incidence of rectal prolapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2725-2732
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume81
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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    Thomas, D. L., Waldron, D. F., Lowe, G. D., Morrical, D. G., Meyer, H. H., High, R. A., Berger, Y. M., Clevenger, D. D., Fogle, G. E., Gottfredson, R. G., Loerch, S., McClure, K. E., Willingham, T. D., Zartman, D. L., & Zelinsky, R. D. (2003). Length of docked tail and the incidence of rectal prolapse in lambs. Journal of animal science, 81(11), 2725-2732.