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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Growth, Physiology, and Reproduction

Interrelationships among growth, endocrine, immune, and temperament variables in neonatal Brahman calves1


This article in

  1. Vol. 87 No. 10, p. 3202-3210
    Received: Mar 2, 2009
    Accepted: June 15, 2009
    Published: December 5, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. N. C. Burdick*†,
  2. J. P. Banta,
  3. D. A. Neuendorff,
  4. J. C. White,
  5. R. C. Vann§,
  6. J. C. Laurenz*,
  7. T. H. Welsh Jr. and
  8. R. D. Randel2
  1. Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, Texas A & M University, Kingsville 78363;
    Texas AgriLife Research and Department of Animal Science, College Station 77843;
    Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Overton 75684; and
    Brown Loam Branch Experiment Station, Mississippi State University, Raymond 39154


Interrelationships among growth, endocrine, immune, and temperament variables were assessed in neonatal Brahman calves. The velocity upon exiting a working chute (exit velocity) of an animal was measured and used as an objective indicator of temperament to classify calves as calm, intermediate, or temperamental. Calves (n = 116) were weighed weekly between d 0 and 21 to 24, and blood samples were collected for plasma and serum on d 0, 1, 2, 7, 14, and 21 to 24 after birth to measure concentrations of immunoglobulins, cortisol, and epinephrine (EPI). Body weight increased from d 0 through d 21 to 24 (P < 0.001) with bulls (n = 60) having greater BW than heifers (n = 56; P = 0.02). Serum concentrations of cortisol were greatest on d 0 before declining (P < 0.001) over the ensuing 21 to 24 d and were not related to temperament (P = 0.89) or sex (P = 0.97). Concentrations of EPI were affected by time, with an increase in EPI concentrations in temperamental bulls between 2 and 14 d of age (P < 0.008). Concentrations of EPI were not affected by temperament (P = 0.44) or sex (P = 0.68). Serum immunoglobulin concentrations peaked on d 1 before declining (P < 0.01) but were not related to temperament (P = 0.40 to 0.68). Of the stress hormones measured (cortisol and EPI), only cortisol was associated with the early performance of the calf. Calf BW at d 21 to 24 and BW gain were positively associated with serum immunoglobulin concentrations, yet negatively associated with concentrations of cortisol. Serum immunoglobulin concentrations were negatively correlated with cortisol concentrations (r = −0.28; P = 0.003), yet positively associated with EPI concentrations (r = 0.51; P = 0.003). During the neonatal period in this study, there was no relationship of temperament with passive immunity or stress hormone concentrations; however, growth was positively associated with passive immunity and negatively associated with stress hormones. Measuring exit velocity as early in life as d 21 to 24 fails to accurately predict temperament at weaning in over 40% of Brahman calves. Our conclusion is that measurement of exit velocity should be done nearer to the time of weaning than to birth. These data can be beneficial in developing best management practices for young calves.

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