Relationship between quantitative measures of temperament and other observed behaviors in growing cattle

Kelsey Bruno, Eric Vanzant, Kirk Vanzant, Alexander Altman, Manoj Kudupoje, Kyle McLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Measures of temperament have been previously related to gain and intake in beef cattle. Intake effects may be partially mediated through social interactions in that some temperament measures may directly relate to social dominance behavior. To examine the relationships between temperament, growth, and social dominance behavior, thirty-two crossbred steers were used in a 56-d randomized complete block design experiment with a 2 × 2 factorial treatment structure. Temperament treatments (assigned on d −7) were chute exit velocity (EV; slow vs. fast) and objective chute score (OCS; low vs. high), a novel temperament measure, defined as the coefficient of variation of recorded weight values collected at five Hz for 10 s while an animal's head was restrained in a chute. Electronic ear tags with accelerometers were used to continuously measure animal activity. Social dominance behaviors were quantified using video records of 2 h intervals directly following feeding for d 1–13. Dominance was calculated as average dominance index and David's score. Jugular blood samples were collected to analyze antibody response to leptospirosis vaccines. There were no EV by OCS interactions (P ≥ 0.23) for average daily gain (ADG) or antibody titers. High OCS steers gained 0.26 kg/d more than low OCS steers (P < 0.01) and slow EV steers gained 0.12 kg/d more than fast EV steers (P = 0.02). Slow EV animals had an increased antibody response compared with fast EV animals (P = 0.05). Ranking in the dominance hierarchy was influenced by an EV × OCS interaction (P < 0.02), but there was not a linear relationship between dominance ranking and ADG. Low OCS steers tended to have higher daily activity counts than high OCS steers (P = 0.11), and fast EV steers had higher (P = 0.08) activity counts than slow EV steers. In conclusion, our two temperament-related measures, EV and OCS, were independently related to differences in ADG. Although dominance ranking was significantly related to the interaction of these two temperament measures, it was not linearly related to ADG. Alternatively, differences in accelerometer-based activity counts among temperament groups did correspond with trends in growth responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Beef cattle
  • Dominance
  • Growth performance
  • Health
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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