Cattle hair whorl position and.temperament in auction houses

J. L. Lanier, T. Grandin, R. D. Green, D. Avery, and K. Mcgee
Colorado State University
Ft. Collins, CO/USA

1999 Journal of Animal Science
Vol. 77, p. 147 (Supl. 1) (Abstract)

The relationship between hair whorl position and temperament was assessed for 1,636 beef type (Bos taurus, Bos indicus), dairy breeds and their crosses. A secondary objective was to quantify typical hair whorl location in cattle. Whorl classification was: lateral position (left, right, or middle) and height (high = above eye level, middle = at eye level, low = below eye level). A four point ring score was used to determine individual temperament. One equaled calm, and four equaled a highly excited animal. Animals with ring scores of 3 and 4 were further rated as whether they exhibited signs of fight or flight. Analysis on effect of breed, was only between Bos taurus beef (n=1233) and Holstein dairy cattle (n=350). Ten percent of cattle surveyed had no facial hair whorl. Animals with higher ring scores had higher whorl positions (P<.01). A single spiral hair whorl was found in 86% of the animals. Middle-middle whorl placement was found in 47% of the cattle. Cattle with low whorls were the most likely to have more whorls off of the centerline (P<.01). Abnormally shaped whorls were associated more often with low whorls (P<.01) and whorls located off of the centerline (P<.01). Female cattle had more abnormal whorls than male cattle (P=.01). Beef type animals bad more abnormal whorls than Holsteins (P<.01) who were calmer than beef type cattle (P<.01) in the ring. Differences between ring score and gender (P<.01) and ring score and hair whorl height (P=.01) were found. Ring scores tend to be higher for females and animals with high hair whorls as compared to bulls and steers and cattle with low or middle hair whorls, respectively. Results of this study support research on the association between hair whorls and temperament. Facial hair whorls In cattle may be a useful management tool in assessing which animals nay become fearful in novel environments such as feedlots, auctions and slaughter houses.

Click here to return to the Homepage for more information on animal behavior, welfare, and care.