Importance of vaginocervical stimulation for the formation of maternal bonding in primiparous and multiparous parturient ewes

Physiol Behav. 1991 Sep;50(3):595-600. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(91)90551-x.


The importance of vaginocervical stimulation for the formation of the maternal bond between a ewe and its lambs was investigated by studying the ability of artificial mechanical vaginocervical stimulation to induce adoption of an alien lamb after the selective bond with the ewe's own lambs had been formed. Results showed that for both multiparous and primiparous ewes, 5 min of mechanical VCS (using a hand) was effective in inducing complete acceptance of an alien lamb (6-48 h old) between 6.5 and 7.5 h postpartum in the majority of animals (8/10 multiparous, 8/9 primiparous) without interfering with the bond between the ewe and its own lambs. In a second group of multiparous animals, 6 out of 7 animals were also induced to completely accept an alien lamb between 26.5 and 27.5 h postpartum. It was found that the most critical aspect of the VCS was pressure on, and stretching the neck of, the cervix. Results show that VCS is not only important for the stimulation of maternal behavior, but also for the formation of the selective maternal bond. The ability of VCS to trigger the formation of a new maternal bond extends for at least 27.5 h post-partum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cervix Uteri / physiology*
  • Female
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology
  • Vagina / physiology*