Main content area

Genetic analysis and evaluation of behavioural traits in cattle

Adamczyk, Krzysztof, Pokorska, Joanna, Makulska, Joanna, Earley, Bernadette, Mazurek, Mickael
Livestock science 2013 v.154 no.1-3 pp. 1-12
animal handling, animal welfare, cattle, cattle breeding, domestication, humans, longevity, meat, milk, quantitative trait loci
The behavioural traits of cattle in terms of docility and manageability have traditionally been the main factors that allowed the domestication of, and use of cattle by humans. Behavioural traits have a profound effect on cattle longevity and are very useful in the assessment of animal welfare and determination of ethical limits to animal handling by humans. In this review, we (1) discussed issues relating to the genetics of the behavioural traits of cattle, (2) characterise current status of cattle breeding in terms of behavioural traits, at the level of population and molecular genetics, giving special consideration to high individual variation in behavioural traits and their relatively high correlations with milk and meat performance traits, (3) discuss the present state of knowledge concerning the identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for behavioural traits of cattle, (4) characterise major problems that impede breeding progress in cattle behaviour, including great diversity of methods used for the assessment of behavioural traits and the considerable degree of its subjectivity. In summary, we show the need for systematically improving the effectiveness of cattle breeding with a focus on behaviour, including the consistent and uniform definition of behavioural traits and objective measures of their assessment.