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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCING ANIMAL WELL-BEING, IMMUNOCOMPETENCE, AND PERFORMANCE IN SWINE AND BEEF CATTLE

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Assessment of temperament in Brahman calves

Authors
item Sanchez, Nicole
item Welsh Jr, Thomas -
item Carroll, Jeffery
item Vann, Rhonda -
item Randel, Ronald -

Submitted to: Brahman Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 2011
Publication Date: July 5, 2011
Citation: Burdick, N.C., Welsh Jr, T.H., Carroll, J.A., Vann, R.C., Randel, R.D. 2011. Assessment of temperament in Brahman calves. Brahman Journal. July 2011. p. 17, 19, 31, and 41.

Interpretive Summary: An animal's behavioral response to handling is important to the livestock industry as animals will be handled on multiple occasions in their lifetime. During the past 20 years, research into beef cattle behavior has increased due to the broad impact of cattle behavior on animal performance. The behavioral responsiveness of cattle to handling by humans and to novel environments is termed "temperament". The increased cost associated with the potential for more excitable or temperamental cattle to injure themselves, workers and facilities, and the negative effects of temperament on growth, immunity and carcass characteristics, are reasons why producers may want to select against temperamental cattle. This article discusses the different methods used to determine temperament, and discusses recent research regarding the measurement of temperament in calves prior to weaning. Additionally, the manuscript discusses data published in a recent publication in which exit velocity, an objective method used to quantify temperament, was measured in calves from three weeks of age through 56 days post-weaning. The authors of this manuscript found that exit velocity increases with age of the calf, and the exit velocity of temperamental calves increased at a greater rate than calm calves. The determination of exit velocity is a management tool that is easy to implement, and is safe for both cattle and workers. Exit velocity is highly repeatable and correlates with production traits. It is also relatively inexpensive to determine, as it only requires the purchase of the infrared beam system. The use of exit velocity as a temperament assessment tool can help producers identify temperamental cattle. This information will be of interest to scientists working in the area of stress physiology and animal behavior, as well as cattle producers who are seeking ways to identify temperamental animals within their herd. The information provided can help with the establishment of protocols to determine the temperament of cattle.

Technical Abstract: An animal's behavioral response to handling is important to the livestock industry as animals will be handled on multiple occasions in their lifetime. During the past 20 years, research into beef cattle behavior has increased due to the broad impact of cattle behavior on animal performance. The behavioral responsiveness of cattle to handling by humans and to novel environments is termed "temperament". The increased cost associated with the potential for more excitable or temperamental cattle to injure themselves, workers, and facilities, and the negative effects of temperament on growth, immunity, and carcass characteristics, are reasons why producers may want to select against temperamental cattle. This article discusses the different methods used to determine temperament, and discusses recent research regarding the measurement of temperament in calves prior to weaning.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014