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A note on hair whorl position and cattle temperament in the auction ring

By J. L. Lanier, T. Grandin, R. Green, D. Avery, K. McGee

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The objective of this study was to further describe the relationships between facial hair whorls and temperament in cattle. Cattle (n=1636) from 6 commercial cattle auctions in Colorado and Texas, USA [date not given] were observed. Whorl location was classified according to lateral position (left, right, or middle) and height (high: above the top of the eye, middle: at eye level, low: below the bottom of the eye). A 4-point temperament score was used to rate each animal while it was in the auction ring. Cattle with a score of 1 remained calm and stood still or walked around, and those with a score of 4 were highly agitated and hit the ring fence, walls, partitions, or people with its head. The cattle observed were 75% Bos taurus beef breeds, 21% Holstein dairy cattle, 3% Bos indicus beef breeds, and 1% non-Holstein dairy breeds. 10% of cattle surveyed had no facial hair whorl, while 86% had a single spiral hair whorl, of which 47% had middle-middle whorl placement. Animals with a high whorl position or no hair whorl had higher temperament scores (P = 0.01). Cattle with low whorls were more likely to have greater lateral displacement of whorls off of the centerline than cattle with high or middle whorls (P < 0.01). Abnormally shaped whorls were more common on cattle with low whorls (P < 0.01) and on cattle with lateral whorls located off of the centerline (P < 0.01). Cattle with hair whorls on the centerline had more variable temperament scores (P = 0.04). Beef cattle had more abnormal whorls than Holsteins (P < 0.01). Temperament scores showed that Holsteins were calmer than beef cattle (P < 0.01). Facial hair whorls in cattle may be a useful management tool in assessing which animals may become disturbed in novel environments.

Date 2001
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 73
Issue 2
Pages 93-101
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(01)00132-0
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, CO 80523-1171, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal anatomy
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Cattle
  5. Colorado
  6. Developed countries
  7. Hair
  8. Mammals
  9. North America
  10. OECD countries
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Ruminants
  13. temperament
  14. Texas
  15. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed