Temperament is an important part of the mix when it comes to selecting cattle. You don’t want heifers that are hard to manage, if they will be staying in your herd or going to someone else’s herd as replacements. You want cows that are easy to handle. “We feel there’s a hereditary factor in disposition and temperament,” says Mark Ehlke. It’s partly heritable and partly the way they are handled, but some animals are a lot easier to train for ease of handling than others.
“We notice this, especially in our black cattle,” he says. “With years of work, they’re not much different in ease of handling than our Hereford cattle, but we’re very strict about how they are handled.” They can be easily ruined if handled wrong.
“A black cow is not going to let you make very many mistakes, like the Hereford will. Herefords are more forgiving,” he says. Careful selection and good handling are all part of the process for developing a herd of nice cattle. Some individuals don’t train as readily as others.
“There’s some research data regarding disposition, and the profitability of quiet cattle,” says Ehlke. “People are finally realizing there’s a definite benefit to having quiet cattle. This is good for those of us who have Herefords. Most of them are more mellow, to start with, than Angus, for instance.”