There is no better free trait than temperament. Not only are quieter animals easier to handle, they perform better in a host of areas – from weight gain to eating quality, and even fertility.

The CSIRO found that animals with better temperaments gain up to 0.38kg per day while in feedlot conditions when compared with animals with poorer temperament.

Professor Reinaldo Cooke from Oregon State University found that cattle with acceptable temperament (classed with a docility score of 1–3 out of 5) in general had higher levels of conception, calving and weaning.

Selecting cattle to improve temperament can benefit beef production and animal performance, in addition to improving animal welfare and human safety. Beef CRC research found favourable genetic and phenotypic relationships between temperament and meat quality, feedlot performance, ease of transport and some reproductive traits indicating that selection to improve temperament will also result in genetic improvements in these traits.

1—5 scoring system for temperament (TP)
Score Code Description
1 Docile Mild disposition, gentle and easily handled, stands and moves slowly during handling, undisturbed, settled, somewhat dull, does not pull on headgate when in crush, exits crush calmly.
2 Restless Quiet but slightly restless, may be stubborn during handling, may try to back out of crush, pulls back on headgate, some flicking of tail, exits crush promptly.
3 Nervous Manageable but nervous and impatient, a moderate amount of struggling, movement and tail-flicking, repeated pushing and pulling on headgate, exits crush briskly.
4 Flighty Jumpy and out of control, quivers and struggles violently, may bellow and froth at mouth, continuous tail-flicking, defecates and urinates during handling, frantically runs fence line and may jump when penned individually, exhibits long flight distance and exits crush wildly.
5 Aggressive May be similar to score 4 but with added aggressive behaviour, fearful, extreme agitation, continuous movement which may include jumping and bellowing while in crush, exits crush frantically and may exhibit attack behaviour when handled alone.