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Temperament Does Not Affect Steer Weight Gains on Extensively Managed Semiarid Rangeland

Reeves, Justin L., Derner, Justin D.
Rangelands 2015 v.37 no.5 pp. 186-190
Agricultural Research Service, animal handling, animal stress, arid lands, extensive farming, feedlots, flight, grazing, mixed breeds, rangelands, steers, stocking rate, stress response, temperament, weight gain, yearlings, Colorado
Cattle with poor temperaments gain less weight in feedlots. However, how yearling steer temperament affects weight gain on rangelands is a knowledge gap for ranchers. Flight speed, the speed at which cattle exit a chute after weighing, has been used to measure temperament in past feedlot studies (faster speed = poor temperament). We used flight speed scores in this study to measure yearling steer temperament at the beginning (mid-May) and end (early-October) of grazing seasons for 3 years: 2011–2013. We hypothesized that steer weight gains on extensively managed semiarid rangeland with low stocking densities (~0.11–0.15 steers/ha) would not be influenced by temperament due to the much lower animal densities and fewer handling events than experienced in feedlots. No meaningful relationships were found between season-beginning or season-ending flight speed score and steer average daily gain, and flight speed scores were often lower at the end of the season. Results suggest that ranchers operating stocker enterprises with extensive management and low stocking densities on rangelands can potentially be less selective for temperament when assembling herds.