Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Genetic analysis of docility score of Australian Angus and Limousin cattle

S. F. Walkom A B , M. G. Jeyaruban A , B. Tier A and D. J. Johnston A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit*, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: swalkom@une.edu.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN16240
Submitted: 15 April 2016  Accepted: 1 September 2016   Published online: 13 October 2016

Abstract

The temperament of cattle is believed to affect the profitability of the herd through impacting production costs, meat quality, reproduction, maternal behaviour and the welfare of the animals and their handlers. As part of the national beef cattle genetic evaluation in Australia by BREEDPLAN, 50 935 Angus and 50 930 Limousin calves were scored by seedstock producers for temperament using docility score. Docility score is a subjective score of the animal’s response to being restrained and isolated within a crush, at weaning, and is scored on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 representing the quiet and 5 the extremely nervous or anxious calves. Genetic parameters for docility score were estimated using a threshold animal model with four thresholds (five categories) from a Bayesian analysis carried out using Gibbs sampling in THRGIBBS1F90 with post-Gibbs analysis in POSTGIBBSF90. The heritability of docility score on the observed scale was 0.21 and 0.39 in Angus and Limousin, respectively. Since the release of the docility breeding value to the Australian Limousin population there has been a favourable trend within the national herd towards more docile cattle. Weak but favourable genetic correlations between docility score and the production traits indicates that docility score is largely independent of these traits and that selection to improve temperament can occur without having an adverse effect on growth, fat, muscle and reproduction.

Additional keywords: Bayesian analysis, fat, heritability, muscle, reproduction, temperament, threshold animal model, weight.


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