Behaviour observations and measurements were carried out on three classes of beef steers kept in yards under drought feeding conditions. The classes were (i) 2-year-old Brahman × Hereford crossbreds, (ii) 2-year-old Herefords and (iii) 3-year-old Herefords.
Animals of each class were placed in two groups and fed on low quality bush hay, one group ad lib. and the other on a restricted basis. An intermingled group comprised two animals from each class and was fed ad lib.
Fairly stable linear social orders were observed in each yard, social success depending mainly upon height. In the intermingled group, the crossbreds dominated the 3-year-old Herefords, which in turn dominated the 2-year-old Herefords.
Crossbreds bunted more actively and were more often disturbed at feeding during the day. They consequently consumed proportionately more feed at night than the Herefords.
Although high social ranking animals had priority at the feed trough there was no relationship between social rank and growth.
The orders in which the 2-year-old Herefords and crossbreds entered a crush were non-random. These orders appeared not to be related to social rank.