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Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:05 am
by alisonb
Found this article very interesting. Am a strong believer of a gentle hand and have yet to find an animal that has not reacted positively to one. At the same time I realise the necessity of culling for disposition. An older animal with a bad temperament influences the herd, is a danger, costs money and needs to go. Researchers document that a % of temperament is hereditary but how much of the dams bad attitude did the calf inherit or did it pick it up by being at her side until weaning?

The proverb "bend the willow while it is young" comes to mind. Could we, by handling young animals regularly, have more docile cattle? Not talking about combing and bathing them but more calmly running them through the chute more often.
Our behaviour has an enormous impact on cow behaviour, welfare and performance. If we handle them negatively we produce more
fearful cows. Positive behaviour will lead to a relaxed herd of cows that are easier to handle.

There are many views on this topic, would be interested in yours...do we cull to easily?


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Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:20 am
by Red Bull Breeder
This problem is a very simple fix. If its nuts acts like a nut cut its head off. Limousin here in the US was the first breed to develop a EPD for docility. The Limousin breed leads all breeds in the IGS co-op breeds in Docility today.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:44 am
by W.B.
You are going to get a wide variety of answers on this. I personally have worked cattle all my life and have observed different temperaments and genetics is the number one separator. Yes how we handle them makes a big difference but making excuses for the ones that don’t fit our management style only prolongs the problem. The cattle with wider flight zones remain the cattle with the wider flight zones their entire lives and generally speaking they predispose the rest of the herd to this behavior when they are handled. We don’t lead our cows, we don’t chase our cows we rather herd them. If they don’t fit the management here they leave. I have found life is a whole lot easier when cattle meet our standards rather than me trying to meet theirs.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:46 am
by Caustic Burno
All cattle have a fight or flight instinct just how quickly does it come out.
I agree 100% that gentle handling is a major influence, Brahmans will teach you that in short order. Then there are those that reach way back in the DNA woodpile that are just nuts.
I sold registered bulls for years you could tell at four months old working them in the pen. They would cull themselves.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:59 am
by Red Bull Breeder
All boils down the same answer. If you take out the ones that don't work in your management style, you either run out of the ones that don't work or you run out of cows. That said some people create their on problems and no cow or breed will ever work for them.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 10:18 am
by Nesikep
Genetics definitely plays a role in it, but management of course too.. Some people just seem to love a good rodeo so they'll never have calm cattle.
Spending time with them regularly is the most important, just walking through the herd while they're chewing cud.. for the calves, the first day, even the first couple hours is going to set the tone for them.. If momma is warning them all the time and you were always there, they'll think "Momma's bluffing, this guy is just fine".. if you weren't there, they'll listen to momma and you'll have an uphill battle getting them calmed back down

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 10:32 am
by farmerjan
I can say that the more calm handling of calves will help to instill in them a calmer disposition as they get older. But again, the DNA and genetics will come out and the nuts will always be nuts. I have one pasture where I calve out the first calf heifers. The calves learn to come in the catch pen through a creep gate and I feed them a little grain. Not regular creep feeding but as a treat and to teach them to come in and be around me. There are a few in every group that are just more standoffish and flighty. Sometimes they will calm down more, but have one nice heifer right now that will go off the wall if I lock the barn door and just have them inside.
These are not like BR's cattle that get haltered and all, and not saying that is bad. These are just commercial cattle that get a little more people time then alot of commercial cattle. This heifer has already gone over the dividing gate into the next pen, and she will get culled no matter how nice she continues to grow. They don't have to want to be petted although it would be nice if they were as tame as Lithuanian Farmers are. But this one heifer will be the one that will take the rest out the gate or refuse to come in the catch pen and such in the future. Or hurt you when she calves.
I also have spent time over the years putting the cattle in a pen and having them walk down the alley and out the chute without catching them. Then when we do put them in and catch their heads, they often get a little bit of grain and know that the head catch is not the end of the world. Don't do it as much as I used to due to cattle being away from the barns more. It really did help to get them to not fight going into the alley and the chute. We always feed a little grain at the pastures to keep the cows coming and the ones that are too flighty or standoffish will get culled. Since we raise many of the heifers as replacements, the calmer ones get kept. And they learn that there is a grain treat for them and they learn to come into the catch pens with no big deal and their calves learn that momma thinks this is a good thing so no big deal. We have cattle that will load themselves in the trailer in the field thinking they are going to a new pasture with grass. Several of our bulls have learned that the trailer means they are going to see some new girlfriends and will load themselves in the trailer with just a little bit of grain right out in the field.
I have found that it seems to be something they learn from their momma and being around her for the 5-8 months they are with them. We also see it in certain families. No need to get hurt by the crazy wild ones. Regardless of how nice of a calf they raise.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 11:02 am
by Allenw
"The proverb "bend the willow while it is young" comes to mind. Could we, by handling young animals regularly, have more docile cattle? "

The biggest bucket cow I have, always there when she sees a bucket, raises the craziest calf the last two years. The most stand offish cow's calf will settle down with the others once it is away from the crazy calf. These two cows calve together some what later then the other cows.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 5:33 pm
by Hippie Rancher
my fantasy is they are calm and gentle for me but wild as deer for the "neighbors" ;-)

a little flight is good for large range situations just because moving overly calm cattle can be a long chore (I remember many times as a kid screaming at the old Hereford cows standing under a tree just staring at me, having to get off my horse and throw rocks or even get a stick and start working them over just to get them to mosey to the next tree)

I think you can do a lot with handling and management, but like people, there are dangerous and crazies in every population.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:34 pm
by True Grit Farms
I try not to over think, just cull the one's who are flighty. Temperament is the easiest and fastest trait to recognize in cattle.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:57 pm
by gcreekrch
Hippie Rancher wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 5:33 pm
my fantasy is they are calm and gentle for me but wild as deer for the "neighbors" ;-)

a little flight is good for large range situations just because moving overly calm cattle can be a long chore (I remember many times as a kid screaming at the old Hereford cows standing under a tree just staring at me, having to get off my horse and throw rocks or even get a stick and start working them over just to get them to mosey to the next tree)

I think you can do a lot with handling and management, but like people, there are dangerous and crazies in every population.

Gave me a giggle...…...been there.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 9:02 pm
by Dave
gcreekrch wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 8:57 pm
Hippie Rancher wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 5:33 pm
my fantasy is they are calm and gentle for me but wild as deer for the "neighbors" ;-)

a little flight is good for large range situations just because moving overly calm cattle can be a long chore (I remember many times as a kid screaming at the old Hereford cows standing under a tree just staring at me, having to get off my horse and throw rocks or even get a stick and start working them over just to get them to mosey to the next tree)

I think you can do a lot with handling and management, but like people, there are dangerous and crazies in every population.

Gave me a giggle...…...been there.
Been on both sides of that equation. Get off the horse to make them move. And have had them try to climb into the saddle with me. I want them somewhere in the middle.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 9:03 pm
by gcreekrch
Handling does a lot on how a cow acts. I bought a nutcase bred cow in Feb. Unloaded her at home at midnight in a secure pasture with 50 other cattle. She didn't come out of the spruce swamp bed ground until hunger go the better of her 3 days later. She has been through the corrals 3 times since then and has gone from coming out of the bunch to see if I wanted to play to going down the sorting alley without a fuss yesterday. Ignoring those traits while still not putting oneself in danger or asking for a fight goes a long way. Those old hags are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

BTW, her calf was earlier than most but she is doing an unbelievable job with him.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 8:09 pm
by Red Bull Breeder
Those old hags are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

BTW, her calf was earlier than most but she is doing an unbelievable job with him.
[/quote]

Doing a unbelievable job with there calves is why they seem to stick around.

Re: Temperament- Cattle

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 10:21 pm
by gcreekrch
Red Bull Breeder wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 8:09 pm
Those old hags are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

BTW, her calf was earlier than most but she is doing an unbelievable job with him.
Doing a unbelievable job with there calves is why they seem to stick around.
[/quote]

We overlook a few bad traits in employees for similar reasons. ;-)