Disposition Scores

Shorthorn Disposition Scoring

Disposition is a moderately heritable trait, and selection over time can improve your herd. Why should this be important to me?  For many producers disposition is becoming more and more important when selecting genetics to add to their herd. Half of the trait comes from the sire and dam.  The other part of the equation is that disposition can be influenced by previous management or environmental situations.  With the average age of cattlemen increasing each year, it makes sense that disposition is becoming more of a convenience trait that is just as important as feet and legs or udder quality. Calmer cattle are safer to handle and easier on your facilities at working time, but there are several other advantages for cow-calf producers or someone retaining ownership in the feedlot.  In the feedlot calm cattle gain faster and offer more desirable carcasses.  Wild or excitable cattle typically come into a feedlot lighter and weigh less when leaving compared to their calmer contemporaries.  Docile cattle are also pulled less for sickness.  For the cow-calf producer calmer cows have shown the ability to breed back faster both artificially and naturally.

With the Digital Beef Registry association members are now able to record disposition scores on their cattle at different times throughout the year.  Cows should be disposition scored at calving time and the resulting cow score should be recorded in the birth entry screen in the temper box.  Calves should be disposition scored when collecting weaning and yearling weights, the disposition scores must be submitted at the same time weaning and yearling weights are entered in the temper box.  Below are the 6 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Scores that association members need to use when scoring cattle.

BIF Disposition Scoring Guidelines

Score 1 – Docile. Mild disposition.  Gentle and easily handled.  Stands and moves slowly during processing.  Undisturbed, settled, somewhat dull. Does not pull on headgate when in chute.  Exits chute calmly.

Score 2 – Restless.  Quieter than average, but may be stubborn during processing.  May try to back out of chute or pull back on headgate.  Some flicking of tail.  Exits chute promptly.

Score 3 – Nervous.  Typical temperament is manageable, but nervous and impatient.  A moderate amount of struggling, movement and tail flicking.  Repeated pushing and pulling on headgate.  Exits chute briskly

Score 4 – Flighty (Wild).  Jumpy and out of control, quivers and struggles violently.  May bellow and froth at the mouth.  Continuous tail flicking. Defecates and urinates during processing.  Frantically runs fence line and may jump when penned individually.  Exhibits long flight distance and exits chute wildly.

Score 5 – Aggressive.  May be similar to Score 4, but with added aggressive behavior, fearfulness, extreme agitation, and continuous movement which may include jumping and bellowing while in chute.  Exits chute frantically and may exhibit attack behavior when handled alone.

Score 6 – Very Aggressive.  Extremely aggressive temperament.  Thrashes about or attacks wildly when confined in small, tight places. Pronounced attack behavior.


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