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Project aims to link temperament and quality

An on-farm study to gauge cattle temperament in Scottish conditions is the first step in helping farmers breed easy to handle cattle with higher quality meat.

A QMS funded project has so far has seen the behaviour of 151 cattle assessed to gauge their behavioural response when being handled. Strong flight responses are undesirable as they both risk the safety of the handler and the animal and require additional labour to control stock.

Studies on Bos indicus derived cattle have also linked flighty temperaments with poor weight gain and poorer meat eating quality in feedlot and ranch systems, and part of the temperament is passed from one generation to the next.

Andy McGowan, Head of Industry Development said: “As Bos indicus derived cattle tend to be more flighty than the Bos taurus stock used in the UK the variation between animals is likely to be noticeably different, so we can’t assume that the current findings would be valid here.

“So this study will assess the temperament of beef cattle on Scottish commercial farms during routine handing in a weigh crate. Carcase data will then be obtained following slaughter to determine the links between temperament and the end product.”

The project, which is being carried out by SAC, will return to the farms this year to allow the cattle behaviour to be averaged over two occasions.

Andy said: “This study is aimed at confirming whether there is an association between temperament, weight gain and carcase traits under Scottish conditions and will hopefully supply us with results so we can then go on to look at this at a genetic level.”

 

The project is being undertaken as part of the industry-funded QMS Research and Development Strategy, for more information about the strategy, visit www.qmscotland.co.uk