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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #296992

Research Project: Improving Immunity, Health, and Well-Being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Evaluation of methods of temperament scoring for beef cattle

Author
item Vann, Rhonda - Mississippi State University
item Riley, David - Texas A&M University
item Sanchez, Nicole
item Carroll, Jeffery - Jeff Carroll
item Welsh, Jr., Thomas - Texas A&M University
item Randel, Ron - Texas A&M University

Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2013
Publication Date: 11/1/2013
Citation: Vann, R.C., Riley, D.G., Sanchez, N.C., Carroll, J.A., Welsh, Jr., T.H., Randel, R.D. 2013. Evaluation of methods of temperament scoring for beef cattle. Experiment Station Bulletins. Mississippi State University Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences Annual Report. Pg. 24-29.

Interpretive Summary: A collaborative study was conducted with researchers from Mississippi State University-Brown Loam, Texas A&M University, the USDA-ARS-LIRU, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research in order to compare different methods of measuring temperament. Temperament can negatively affect various production traits, including live weight, ADG, DMI, conception rates and carcass weight. Various methods are used to measure temperament, with the two most commonly used by our laboratories being pen score and exit velocity. Critics of temperament measurement procedures advocate that as chute scoring and exit velocity are measured on cattle individually, pen score should be performed in the same manner in order to compare it with other temperament measurements. However, there is a concern that, as cattle are gregarious animals, temperamental cattle may display extreme behaviors when scored in a pen alone rather than with other cattle. Therefore this study was designed to determine if performing pen scoring on individual calves versus calves in groups of three produced different results. Research from this study demonstrates that there is no difference in pen scores when measured on groups of three calves or when measured individually. Additionally, age and sire breed of calf did not influence temperament measurements. However, heifers had greater pen scores than bulls and steers. Additionally, pen scores measured when calves were in groups of three were highly correlated with individual pen score, exit velocity, and temperament score (average of pen score and exit velocity). These data will be of interest to scientists in the areas of animal behavior, health, and well-being as well as beef cattle producers interested in measuring cattle temperament.

Technical Abstract: Temperament can negatively affect various production traits, including live weight, ADG, DMI, conception rates and carcass weight. The objective of this research study was to evaluate temperament scoring methods in beef cattle. Crossbred (n = 228) calves were evaluated for temperament at weaning by an individual observer who used two scoring methods: 1) pen score (1 to 5 scale, with higher scores indicating increasing degree of nervousness, aggressiveness, etc; groups of three animals) and 2) exit velocity (meters/second; rate an animal traverses 1.83 meters after exiting a cattle squeeze chute). Temperament score was the average of pen score and exit velocity. These same calves were re-evaluated for temperament with two different methods of pen score one week later: 1) individual pen score (1 to 5 scale) and 2) group pen score (1 to 5 scale; groups of three animals, same as weaning measure). Data were analyzed using the mixed linear models with sire as a random effect. Age and sire breed of calf did not (P > 0.05) affect temperament measurements; however sex of calf did influence group and individual pen score measurements (P < 0.05) and tended (P = 0.08) to influence weaning pen score. Heifers had greater pen scores compared to bulls and steers when scored as a group and greater than bulls when scored as individuals and at weaning. Pen scores in groups were highly correlated (P < 0.0001) with individual pen scores, weaning pen score, weaning exit velocity, and weaning temperament score. In summary, 1) heifer calves have greater pen scores compared to bull or steers; 2) temperament score did not differ between group and individual pen scoring methods; and 3) results from these methods were highly correlated with each other and the results derived from other established methods of temperament scoring.