As part of the sustainability project, a number of breeders’ cattle were scored for docility, with some pleasing results.
A pilot study was run on five herds to understand whether the well-known temperament of Herefords could be verified through the Breedplan approach. There is a link between temperament, and activity levels, which affects feed efficiency, and feed intake, which drives methane emissions.
She says: “Basically, a calmer animal wastes less energy so eat less and therefore produces less methane.”
During the pilot, the Breedplan scoring system was used and 100 cattle were evaluated, between 60 to 400 days of age, by placing them in a crush for 30 seconds and their behaviour scored (see table below).
The most common score was 1 (docile), with 56% of animals achieving this score. Meanwhile, 21% of cattle scored a 1.5, with 15% scoring restless (2), 6% scored 2 and 2% scored 3 (nervous).
Liz continues: “According to Brad Crook from Breedplan, they would ‘expect most animals will score 1.0-1.5 (approximately 85%), another 12-15% of score 2 and very small percentages for the higher scores’. The pilot results from the Hereford project were very similar to Breedplan’s expectations.”
Breedplan stated there is enough variation within the UK’s Herefords to pursue an estimated breeding value. However, the docility scoring will not be offered by the society in the short-term, as the number of interested herds may not be enough.