Developing and Validating Measures of Temperament in Livestock

  • Simon P. Turner
  • Jenny M. Gibbons
  • Marie J. Haskell
Part of the Primatology Monographs book series (PrimMono)


The extension of the concept of temperament to livestock dates back as far as the beginning of the twentieth century. Temperament in livestock has been shown to influence productivity, survival, ease of handling, and handler safety. A variety of terms are used to refer to different aspects of temperament (or personality) traits in livestock. Despite the variety of definitions and adjectives used, the underlying principle that animals behave in consistent ways over time and situations is the main defining characteristic of a trait. In this chapter, we explore the motivations behind the desire to assess livestock temperament. We review and summarize fearfulness, a major trait that has been widely studied in livestock to describe the complexities inherent in measuring aspects of temperament. We highlight the importance of temperament from economic and welfare viewpoints and illustrate with a number of studies that have demonstrated links between temperament and production. Finally, we evaluate the constraints of breeding for temperament traits and discuss what the future may hold in this area.


Behavioral Trait Beef Cattle Selection Index Economic Trait Behavioral Type 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful for the support provided by the Scottish Government (RERAD) and the Department for the Environment, Farming, and Rural Affairs (UK).


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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon P. Turner
    • 1
  • Jenny M. Gibbons
    • 2
  • Marie J. Haskell
    • 3
  1. 1.Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Sustainable Livestock Systems GroupScottish Agricultural CollegeEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Sustainable Livestock Systems GroupScottish Agricultural CollegeEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Sustainable Livestock Systems GroupScottish Agricultural CollegeEdinburghUK

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