Beef Cattle Bull Selection For Temperament
Selecting for temperament
Temperament is primarily a
fear response to handling by man and is therefore often considered in selection as an important trait in beef
cattle production. Temperament has effects on factors such as labor requirements, efficiency and meat quality.
Temperament is often modified by handling practices and other environmental factors.
To assess temperament, it is important to separate animals and assess their
temperaments as individuals, rather than within a group. Assessing temperament in a yard is far more accurate than
in a chute. The restriction of movement in a chute may create a false impression of the temperament
Two methods used to assess temperament are (1) to restrict the individual animal in a
corner of a large yard and record the closest distance tolerated by the animal as a temperament score.
Alternatively, (2) record the time an animal takes to travel a set distance when leaving a chute or alley way.
When to assess bulls As bulls get older, handling can interfere with temperament. So it is
best to make assessments when the bulls are young, preferably prior to 12 months of age. If temperament is poor
when young, it will generally be poor for life.
An appropriate time to assess young bulls is at the end of weaning after they have
recovered from the initial shock of separation from their mother. This coincides with the timing of the first major
phase of selection of replacement bulls carried out for any age group.
Sales are not a good time to make relative decisions regarding temperament as animals can
express abnormal behaviour due to the immediate pre-sale handling that has occurred. Such behaviour can make
temperament seem abnormally unfavorable Alternatively, animals may have been sedated to make them tractable. Again,
selection in the paddock is therefore a more desirable option for this trait.
Heritablitity of temperament Temperament is highly heritable. Trials have shown that
animals with poorer temperaments, that is, are less quiet, have slower growth rates. Conversely, selection for
increased growth rate tends to have a positive effect on the temperament of the progeny. The intensity of selection
against poor temperament depends on the relative importance of the trait compared to other traits in a herd and the
degree of problem that temperament is causing in the herd.
Bull Selection Is Foundation For Profitable