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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Temperament traits of beef calves measured under field conditions and their relationships to performance1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 88 No. 6, p. 1982-1989
    Received: Oct 13, 2008
    Accepted: Feb 02, 2010
    Published: December 4, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. S. Hoppe 2,
  2. H. R. Brandt,
  3. S. König*,
  4. G. Erhardt and
  5. M. Gauly*
  1. Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Georg August University, Albrecht Thaer Weg 3, 37075 Göttingen, Germany; and
    Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Justus Liebig University, Ludwigstraße 21b, 35390 Giessen, Germany



A total of 3,050 German Angus (Aberdeen Angus × German dual-purpose breeds), Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, and German Simmental calves were used to examine temperament traits of beef cattle using 2 different test procedures. The chute test and the flight-speed test have been validated in terms of routine on-farm applicability. Behavior tests were performed in 2006 and 2007 on 24 commercial beef cattle farms located in the northern and eastern part of Germany. A single, trained observer assigned subjective scores to characterize the behavior of each animal during restraint in the head gate (calm, restless shifting, squirming, vigorous movement, violent struggling) and when leaving the chute (walk, trot, run, jumping out of the chute). Breed was a significant source of variation in chute scores and flight-speed scores (P < 0.001). Charolais and Limousin cattle had the greatest scores in both traits, whereas Herefords had the least (P < 0.001) chute scores. German Angus and Hereford calves had the least (P < 0.001) flight-speeds, indicating that these breeds have a more favorable temperament. Temperament scores differed significantly between male and female calves (P < 0.01), with females scoring better for both traits. Average daily BW gains of the calves were significantly influenced by effects of breed (P < 0.001) and sex (P < 0.001) of the calves. Heritabilities were estimated for chute- and flight-speed scores of beef cattle. They were least for chute score and flight-speed score of Limousin cattle with values of 0.11. In contrast, greatest heritabilities were 0.33 for chute score and 0.36 for flight-speed score of Hereford cattle. Genetic correlations were estimated among both temperament traits, with values between 0.57 and 0.98. Chute scores and visual flight-speed scores were negatively correlated with daily BW gain of the calves in most breeds. The results presented in this paper indicate that on-farm evaluation of beef cattle temperament is possible, either using the chute test or the flight-speed test. Genetic selection seems to be promising to improve temperament traits of beef cattle without decreasing production traits like ADG of the calves.

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