Effects of temperament and acclimation to handling on feedlot performance of Bos taurus feeder cattle originated from a rangeland-based cow–calf system
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Two experiments evaluated the effects of temperament and acclimation to handling on performance of Angus × Hereford feeder cattle reared in extensive rangeland systems until weaning. In Exp. 1, 200 calves (n = 97 for yr 1; n = 103 for yr 2) were evaluated for temperament at weaning (average age ± SE = 152 ± 1 d) by chute score and exit velocity. Chute score was assessed on a 5-point scale according to behavior during chute restraining. Exit score was calculated by dividing exit velocity into quintiles and assigning calves a score from 1 (slowest) to 5 (fastest). A temperament score was calculated for each calf by averaging chute and exit scores. Calf temperament was classified according to temperament score as adequate (≤3) or excitable (>3). After weaning, calves were assigned to a 40-d preconditioning followed by growing (139 d) and finishing (117 d) phases until slaughter. Weaning BW was decreased (P = 0.04) in excitable calves compared with adequate calves. No differences were detected (P ≥ 0.21) for ADG during preconditioning, growing, and finishing phases; hence, excitable calves tended (P = 0.09) to have decreased HCW compared with adequate calves. In Exp. 2, 60 steers (initial age ± SE = 198 ± 2 d) were weighed and evaluated for temperament score 35 d after weaning (d -29). On d -28, steers were ranked by these variables and assigned to receive an acclimation treatment or not (control). Acclimated steers were processed through a handling facility twice weekly for 4 wk (d -28 to -1) whereas control steers remained undisturbed on pasture. On d 0, all steers were transported for 24 h and returned to the research facility (d 1). On arrival, steers were ranked by BW within treatment and randomly assigned to 20 feedlot pens for a 28-d feedlot receiving period. Acclimated steers had decreased temperament score and plasma cortisol compared with controls on d 0 (P = 0.02). During feedlot receiving, acclimated steers had decreased ADG (P < 0.01) and G:F (P = 0.03) and tended to have decreased DMI (P = 0.07) compared with controls. Acclimated steers had greater plasma haptoglobin on d 4 (P = 0.04) and greater ceruloplasmin from d 0 to 10 (P ≤ 0.04) and tended to have greater cortisol on d 1 (P = 0.08) than controls. In conclusion, temperament affects productivity of beef operations based on Bos taurus feeder cattle reared in extensive rangeland systems until weaning whereas acclimation to handling ameliorated cattle temperament but did not benefit feedlot receiving performance.
author list (cited authors)
Francisco, C. L., Cooke, R. F., Marques, R. S., Mills, R. R., & Bohnert, D. W.