Australian researchers find happy cattle make better beef

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia, August 12, 2003, Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization's Rendel Laboratory in Rockhampton say they have found a relationship between good cattle temperament, improved productivity levels and overall meat quality.

By showing that cattle with poorer temperaments have comparatively lower average daily weight gains and reduced carcass weights the research suggests that beef producers can increase the quality of their meat if they selectively breed cattle with good temperaments.
The research was conducted by CSIRO Livestock Industries (CLI) and the Co-operative Research Center for Beef and Cattle Quality (Beef CRC).

Project Leader, Dr Heather Burrow said that to improve performance and meat quality - particularly in intensive production situations - 'bad-temperament' cattle should be replaced with 'good-temperament' cattle.

"Poor temperament lowers cattle profitability through increased production costs - for example, mustering, maintaining cattle handling facilities and the increased risk of injury to the cattle and their handlers," Burrow said.

"To be able to select cattle with 'good' temperaments, producers and feedlot operators need to be able apply a set of proven criteria to help them distinguish between the cattle they want and those they don't," she continued.

There are various tests that can be carried out to assess the temperament of cattle, she said, adding that the best way to improve the temperament of beef cattle is to select good-temperament breeding stock.

The most commonly used cattle temperament tests are the 'crush-score' and 'flight-time' methods.