The June edition of Mike Baker’s Beef Cattle Comments from Cornell University carried an item on temperament rating of cattle. Sarah Core, a University of Guelph master’s student, reported on a study evaluating use of the amount of white in cattle eyes as a measure of temperament.

Temperamental cattle are both dangerous and frustrating to handle. Besides being a danger to themselves, other animals and to their handlers, injuries can affect carcass value.

Research at the University of Guelph indicates the percentage of revealed eye white in cattle can be used as a predictor of temperament. Eye white evaluations were conducted at the Elora Beef Research Station on bulls, steers and heifers as a graduate research project.

A digital camera was set up near the squeeze chute to capture an image of the animal's eye. Video recording then took place while the animals were run through the chute. Images were then stored and analyzed to assess the amount of eye white revealed by each animal.

Flight speed was measured and chute score evaluations were also conducted. The results of these analyses showed that percentage of eye white had a significant positive correlation with both temperament scoring and flight speed.

Easy and inexpensive, this system offers a physical measurement vs. a behavioral scoring. Plus, the digital image records can be used or re-analyzed at a later date, the researcher says.

Since this measurement is reliable and highly correlated with temperament, percent eye white is a good tool for identifying animals that should be implemented in intensive selection programs for temperament, Core says.

See the newsletter at: beef.osu.edu/beef/beefApril29.html.
-- Cornell University Beef Cattle Letter