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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #315722

Title: Bovine temperament impacts immunity, metabolism, and reproduction: A review

item Carroll, Jeffery - Jeff Carroll
item Broadway, Paul
item Sanchez, Nicole
item RANDEL, RONALD - Texas Agrilife Extension

Submitted to: Clinical Theriogenology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/3/2015
Publication Date: 8/5/2015
Citation: Carroll, J.A., Broadway, P.R., Sanchez, N.C., Randel, R.D. 2015. Bovine temperament impacts immunity, metabolism, and reproduction: A review. Clinical Theriogenology. 7(3):235-241.

Interpretive Summary: Temperament has broad effects on cattle physiology ranging from immunity to metabolism to reproduction. All of the factors associated with temperament ultimately impact growth performance, carcass and meat quality, reproductive efficiency, and health, all of which ultimately impact profitability and the sustainability of cattle-based operations from conception to consumption. While most of the aspects associated with cattle temperament imply negative implications with regard to overall production, the stress and metabolic alterations associated with temperament may play a pivotal role in priming the innate immune system. Priming the innate immune system may promote pathogen clearance, which decreases the duration of infection and may have positive implications on performance, health, and overall hardiness. Future research efforts must focus on elucidating the mechanisms associated with these physiological differences between calm and temperamental cattle. Furthermore, research should focus on management strategies to alleviate the negative impacts of temperament on reproduction and growth. Information provided in this manuscript will be of interest to scientists in the fields of stress physiology, immunology, reproduction, and animal well-being. This information is also relevant for veterinarians and cattle producers who are evaluating cattle selection programs and modification of management practices in order to enhance cattle health, productivity, and overall well-being.

Technical Abstract: Temperament, or excitability, is a behavioral trait that has been shown to impact physiology and performance. Temperament in cattle alters the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, thereby influencing circulating concentrations of catecholamines and glucocorticoids. The physiological changes associated with temperament have also been reported to alter immune responsiveness and associated biomarkers. While temperament has been demonstrated to influence metabolism, which can impact growth and carcass performance, the implications of this relationship remains unclear at the present time. With regard to reproductive efficiency and progeny performance, several studies have reported that temperament not only negatively influences the reproductive system efficiency, but also the growth and performance of offspring. Overall, the literature supports the idea that cattle temperament impacts major physiological mechanisms that ultimately impact reproduction, growth, performance and profitability of beef cattle. Therefore, this review is aimed at elucidating the interactions between temperament and immunity, metabolism, performance, and reproduction in cattle.