Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effects of temperament on growth, plasma cortisol concentrations and puberty attainment in Nelore beef heifers

  • R. F. Cooke (a1), P. Moriel (a2), B. I. Cappellozza (a3), V. F. B. Miranda (a4), L. F. D. Batista (a4), E. A. Colombo (a4), V. S. M. Ferreira (a4), M. F. Miranda (a4), R. S. Marques (a5) and J. L. M. Vasconcelos (a4)...


Excitable temperament disrupts physiological events required for reproductive development in cattle, but no research has investigated the impacts of temperament on growth and puberty attainment in Bos indicus females. Hence, this experiment evaluated the effects of temperament on growth, plasma cortisol concentrations and puberty attainment in B. indicus heifers. A total of 170 Nelore heifers, weaned 4 months before the beginning of this experiment (days 0 to 91), were managed in two groups of 82 and 88 heifers each (mean ± SE; initial BW=238±2 kg, initial age=369±1 days across groups). Heifer temperament was evaluated via exit velocity on day 0. Individual exit score was calculated within each group by dividing exit velocity into quintiles and assigning heifers with a score from 1 to 5 (1=slowest; 5=fastest heifer). Heifers were classified according to exit score as adequate (ADQ, n=96; exit score⩽3) or excitable temperament (EXC, n=74; exit score>3). Heifer BW, body condition score (BCS) and blood samples were obtained on days 0, 31, 60 and 91. Heifer exit velocity and score were recorded again on days 31, 60 and 91. Ovarian transrectal ultrasonography was performed on days 0 and 10, 31 and 41, 60 and 70, 81 and 91 for puberty evaluation. Heifer was declared pubertal at the first 10-day interval in which a corpus luteum was detected. Exit velocity and exit score obtained on day 0 were correlated (r⩾0.64, P<0.01) with evaluations on days 31, 60 and 91. During the experiment, ADQ had greater (P<0.01) mean BCS and BW gain, and less (P<0.01) mean plasma cortisol concentration compared with EXC heifers. Temperament × time interactions were detected (P<0.01) for exit velocity and exit score, which were always greater (P<0.01) in EXC v. ADQ heifers. A temperament × time interaction was also detected (P=0.03) for puberty attainment, which was delayed in EXC v. ADQ heifers. At the end of the experiment, a greater (P<0.01) proportion of ADQ were pubertal compared with EXC heifers. In summary, B. indicus heifers classified as EXC had reduced growth, increased plasma cortisol concentrations and hindered puberty attainment compared to ADQ heifers. Moreover, exit velocity may serve as temperament selection criteria to optimize development of B. indicus replacement heifers.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Bagley, CP 1993. Nutritional management of replacement beef heifers: a review. Journal of Animal Science 71, 31553163.
Barrozo, D, Buzanskas, ME, Oliveira, JA, Munari, DP, Neves, HHR and Queiroz, SA 2012. Genetic parameters and environmental effects on temperament score and reproductive traits of Nellore cattle. Animal 6, 3640.
Burdick, NC, Agado, B, White, JC, Matheney, KJ, Neuendorff, DA, Riley, DG, Vann, RC, Welsh, TH Jr. and Randel, RD 2011. Technical note: Evolution of exit velocity in suckling Brahman calves. Journal of Animal Science 89, 233236.
Cafe, LM, Robinson, DL, Ferguson, DM, McIntyre, BL, Geesink, GH and Greenwood, PL 2011. Cattle temperament: persistence of assessments and associations with productivity, efficiency, carcass and meat quality traits. Journal of Animal Science 89, 14521465.
Cooke, RF 2014. Temperament and acclimation to human handling influence growth, health, and reproductive responses in Bos taurus and B. indicus cattle. Journal of Animal Science 92, 53255333.
Cooke, RF, Arthington, JD, Austin, BR and Yelich, JV 2009a. Effects of acclimation to handling on performance, reproductive, and physiological responses of Brahman-crossbred heifers. Journal of Animal Science 87, 34033412.
Cooke, RF, Arthington, JD, Araujo, DB and Lamb, GC 2009b. Effects of acclimation to human interaction on performance, temperament, physiological responses, and pregnancy rates of Brahman-crossbred cows. Journal of Animal Science 87, 41254132.
Cooke, RF, Bohnert, DW, Cappellozza, BI, Mueller, CJ and DelCurto, T 2012. Effects of temperament and acclimation to handling on reproductive performance of Bos taurus beef females. Journal of Animal Science 90, 35473555.
Cooke, RF, Bohnert, DW, Meneghetti, M, Losi, TC and Vasconcelos, JLM 2011. Effects of temperament on pregnancy rates to fixed-timed AI in Bos indicus beef cows. Livestock Science 142, 108113.
Cooke, RF, Schubach, KM, Marques, RS, Peres, RG, Silva, LGT, Carvalho, RS, Cipriano, RS, Bohnert, DW, Pires, AV and Vasconcelos, JLM 2017. Effects of temperament on physiological, productive, and reproductive responses in Bos indicus beef cows. Journal of Animal Science 95, 18.
Curley, KO, Paschal, JC, Welsh, TH Jr. and Randel, RD 2006. Technical note: exit velocity as a measure of cattle temperament is repeatable and associated with serum concentration of cortisol in Brahman bulls. Journal of Animal Science 84, 31003103.
Day, ML, Imakawa, K, Garcia-Winder, M, Zalesky, DD, Schanbacher, BD, Kittok, RJ and Kinder, JE 1984. Endocrine mechanisms of puberty in heifers: estradiol negative feedback regulation of luteinizing hormone secretion. Biology of Reproduction 31, 332341.
Dobson, H and Smith, RF 2000. What is stress and how does it affect reproduction? Animal Reproduction Science 60–61, 743752.
Dobson, H, Tebble, JE, Smith, RF and Ward, WR 2001. Is stress really all that important? Theriogenology 55, 6573.
Federation of Animal Science Societies 2010. Guide for the care and use of agricultural animals in agricultural research and teaching, 3rd edition. FAAS, Savoy, IL, USA.
Fell, LR, Colditz, IG, Walker, KH and Watson, DL 1999. Associations between temperament, performance and immune function in cattle entering a commercial feedlot. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 39, 795802.
Fordyce, GE, Dodt, RM and Wythes, JR 1988. Cattle temperaments in extensive beef herds in northern Queensland. 1. Factors affecting temperament. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 28, 683687.
Francisco, CL, Cooke, RF, Marques, RS, Mills, RR and Bohnert, DW 2012. Effects of temperament and acclimation to handling on feedlot performance of Bos taurus feeder cattle originated from a rangeland-based cow-calf system. Journal of Animal Science 90, 50675077.
Francisco, CL, Resende, FD, Benatti, JMB, Castilhos, AM, Cooke, RF and Jorge, AM 2015. Impacts of temperament on Nellore cattle: physiological responses, performance, and carcass characteristics. Journal of Animal Science 93, 54195429.
Hearnshaw, H and Morris, CA 1984. Genetic and environmental effects on a temperament score in beef cattle. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 35, 723733.
León, HV, Hernández-Cerón, J, Keisler, DH and Gutierrez, CG 2004. Plasma concentrations of leptin, insulin-like growth factor I, and insulin in relation to changes in body condition score in heifers. Journal of Animal Science 82, 445451.
Lesmeister, JL, Burfening, PJ and Blackwell, RL 1973. Date of first calving in beef cows and subsequent calf production. Journal of Animal Science 36, 16.
Matsunaga, ME, Silva, JA, Toledo, LM, Paranhos da Costa, MJR, Eler, JP and Ferraz, JBS 2002. Genetic analysis of temperament in Nelore cattle. In Proceeding of the 7th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livesteco Production, 19–23 August 2002, Montpelier, France, pp. 14–16.
Nelson, DL and Cox, MM 2005. Lehninger principles of biochemistry, 4th edition. W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, NY, USA.
Nkrumah, JD, Crews, DH Jr, Basarab, JA, Price, MA, Okine, EK, Wang, Z, Li, C and Moore, SS 2007. Genetic and phenotypic relationships of feeding behavior and temperament with performance, feed efficiency, ultrasound, and carcass merit of beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 85, 23822390.
Petherick, JC, Holroyd, RG, Doogan, VJ and Venus, BK 2002. Productivity, carcass and meat quality of lot-fed Bos indicus cross steers grouped according to temperament. Animal Production Science 42, 389398.
Reis, MM, Cooke, RF, Cappellozza, BI, Marques, RS, Guarnieri Filho, TA, Rodrigues, MC, Bradley, JS, Mueller, CJ, Keisler, DH, Johnson, SE and Bohnert, DW 2015. Creep-feeding to stimulate metabolic imprinting in nursing beef heifers: Impacts on heifer growth, reproductive, and physiological parameters. Animal 9, 15001508.
Riley, DG, Gill, CA, Boldt, CR, Funkhouser, RR, Herring, AD, Riggs, PK, Sawyer, JE, Lunt, DK and Sanders, JO 2016. Crossbred steer temperament as yearlings and whole genome association of steer temperament as yearlings and calf temperament post-weaning. Journal of Animal Science 94, 14081414.
Rodrigues, HD, Kinder, JE and Fitzpatrick, LA 2002. Estradiol regulation of luteinizing hormone secretion in heifers of two breed types that reach puberty at different ages. Biology of Reproduction 66, 603609.
Schillo, KK, Hall, JB and Hileman, SM 1992. Effects of nutrition and season on the onset of puberty in the beef heifer. Journal of Animal Science 70, 39944005.
Schmutz, SM, Stookey, JM, Winkelman-Sim, DC, Waltz, CS, Plante, Y and Buchanan, FC 2001. A QTL study of cattle behavioral traits in embryo transfer families. Journal of Heredity 92, 290292.
Stahringer, RC, Randel, RD and Neuendorff, DA 1990. Effects of naloxone and animal temperament on serum luteinizing-hormone and cortisol concentrations in seasonally anestrous Brahman heifers. Theriogenology 34, 393406.
Turner, SP, Navajas, EA, Hyslop, JJ, Ross, DW, Richardson, RI, Prieto, N and Bell, M 2011. Associations between response to handling and growth and meat quality in frequently handled Bos taurus beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 89, 42394248.
Vetters, MDD, Engle, TE, Ahola, JK and Grandin, T 2013. Comparison of flight speed and exit score as measurements of temperament in beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 91, 374381.
Wagner, JJ, Lusby, KS, Oltjen, JW, Rakestraw, J, Wettemann, RP and Walters, LE 1988. Carcass composition in mature Hereford cows: estimation and effect on daily metabolizable energy requirement during winter. Journal of Animal Science 66, 603612.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed