Temporal whorl - disposition

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ROAD WARRIOR

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I read somewhere along time ago that there was a dirrect correlation between the temporal whorl (where the hair "calecs" on a cows head) and their disposition. The theory was that the higher up the head of the animal the whorl was - the worse disposition the animal would have. I have noticed on our own cattle that this holds true on alot of them, maybe not 100% but a pretty high %. Has anybody else heard of this or noticed a correlation between the two?
 

justintime

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I totally agree with this concept and as you have said, there seems to be a very high correlation with the location of the swirl and temperment. I am not sure if there has been any research been done on this or not.
Many years ago, my father used to sell bulls to a large rancher from Montana, and he used to walk thorough or cows and tell us which cows were going to have bull calves and heifer calves based on the coloration and lie of the hair in the swirl located just behind the front shoulders. I also remember him picking out any open cows by looking at the hair along the midline of the cows back. He would also pick out the late calvers  by the hair indicators that he watched for. At that time, we had quite a few horned cows and he could tell us how many calves each cow had in her life and if she had ever missed calving in any year. He again looked at the coloration of each years growth on the horns. I was too young to ask many questions and I sure wish I could visit with him now as I think he was really on to some interesting theories. My dad used to keep track of the sexes of teh calves, and said he was amazingly close in his predictions.
One thing I have noticed is if you have an cow that comes into heat in the winter, the cows that do most of the riding, will almost always have a bull calf. Occasionally there is one that has a heifer but I would guess they would have 90 % bull calves. Does anyone else have any theories like this?
 

genes

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I've looked at it sometimes when I think of it, but never done like a complete proper scoring of the herd or anything.  I would not give it 100%, but there does seem to be some correlation.  And it seems like the really extremes might be the ones it really shows up on (well wait, maybe that's  just for low, I don't think I could get close enough to the cows with an extremely high whorl to check them  (lol)) .  Like I've had a couple whose whorls were down on their noses that are total pests.  Negative sized flight zone.

There are some similar theories with hair whorls on horses.    And just the other day I saw an author on TV who actually said there is some correlary between the direction of the whorl in humans and sexual orientation (ok I'm not looking to open any can of worms, but it's so relevant).  I guess the basis behind all this is a link to brain development, which sort of intuitively makes sense.

JIT - I think there has been at least a little research.  I could look for the proper articles sometime.  About the heat, it's possible if the pregnancy is late enough that the male hormones are making the cows a little more .... aggressive.  That would be my guess.
 

DL

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Temple Grandin did a study on this - as well as bone  (ie the theory being high whorl, light bone more flighty) - if I recall correctly the assessed temperament by how fast animals left the chute...I have the study somewhere - I'll look. I don't know if it is on her web site of not.....so yeah it is real - not only in the barn but there is science to back up what we think we know, way cool!
 

ROAD WARRIOR

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DL - It's not often a cowboy theory has science to back it up. Chalk up one for the "good old boys"!
 

farmboy

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SO CLOSER TO THE NOSE: TAMER AND BIGGER BONE
                          HIGHER WILL BE FLIGHTY AND LIGHT BONED?
 

DL

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farmboy said:
SO CLOSER TO THE NOSE: TAMER AND BIGGER BONE
                          HIGHER WILL BE FLIGHTY AND LIGHT BONED?

Close farmboy - higher +/or light bone  --> more flighty
                        lower +/or more bone ----> less flighty (better temperament)

re bone you can kinda think about the difference between draft horses and Arabs
re whorl think of the difference between James Brown and Bruce Willis (OK that doesn't make any sense!)

 

red

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This was from an earlier thread. Thought it was worth repeating since a lot probably never saw it.
Since there was a great discussion on cannon bones in cattle I thought I'd do a little googling on the topic.
did you know there is a relationship between cannon bone size & temperment? Telos's hero Temple Grandin has an interesting paper on that:

The relationship between Bos Taurus feedlot cattle temperament and cannon bone measurements
J. L. Lanier and T. Grandin
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
Proceedings, Western Section, American Society of Animal Science Vol. 53, 2002



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ABSTRACT: Two groups of feedlot cattle on two different mineral supplement trials were used to assess the relationship between temperament and cannon bone measurements. The cannon bones of approximately fourteen month old crossbred Bos taurus European, Continental, and British steers (n = 135), primarily Angus, Charolais, and Hereford breeds, and 54 Charolais x Hereford heifers were measured postmortem. Postmortem measurements were taken on the left front 3rd and 4th fused metacarpal (cannon) bone. Length (middle peak of the base to the sagittal ridge) was measured with an Absolute Digimatic caliper (Mitutoyo Corp., Japan) CD-12" CP, while width (lateral to medial), and thickness (cranial to caudal) measurements were taken with an Absolute Digimatic caliper model CD-8" CS. Steers were individually scored on speed of exit from the squeeze chute after physical restraint; 1 = walked, 2= trotted, and 3 = ran out of the chute. Heifers were scored on their reluctance to place their head in the head restraint: 1 = not reluctant and 2 = reluctant. Steer cannon bone thickness (P = 0.008) and width (P < 0.001) were related to the speed of exit from the chute. Steers with thicker and wider bones exited the chute at a slower pace than those with smaller cannon bones. Heifers with wider (P = 0.07) and thicker (P = 0.06) bones tended to be less likely to balk at the head restraint. Cattle with larger cannon bones were calmer than those with smaller bones. Use of physical indicators such as cannon bone size may assist producers in predicting individual cattle temperament.

Introduction
The livestock industry uses physical markers on individual animals to predict qualities such as temperament and reproductive success. Common physical markers used in the cattle industry are facial hair whorl position and scrotal circumference. Facial hair whorl position has been shown to be an indicator of individual cattle temperament measured as activity level during restraint in a squeeze chute (Grandin et al., 1995), willingness to approach a novel person (Randle, 1998) and activity level in a novel environment (Lanier et al., 2001). Grandin et al. (1995) and Lanier et al. (2001) demonstrated an association between having a facial hair whorl above eye level and having a more nervous or flighty temperament than those with lower facial hair whorls. Randle (1998) observed that cattle with facial whorls at eye level were the most curious of novel people. Scrotal circumference has been shown to be associated with reproductive potential in bulls and onset of heifer puberty. The greater the scrotal circumference the greater the potential to be a viable breeding bull (Ott, 1986; Coe 1993), as well as producing heifers who reach puberty earlier than those from bulls with smaller scrotal circumference (Smith et al., 1989).
Materials and Methods
Animals. One hundred thirty-five crossbred Bos taurus steers, primarily Angus, Charolais and Hereford breeds, and 54 Charolais x Hereford heifers were used to assess the relationship between temperament and cannon bone measurements (length, width, and thickness). Steer and heifer age was approximately 14 months.
Steers and heifers were involved in two separate studies at two different locations. Temperament variables assessed differed between the studies due to facility design constraints. Temperament was assessed by exit speed from the squeeze chute in steers, and heifer reluctance to place their head in the head restraint. Exit speed was ranked as 1 = walked, 2 = trotted, and 3 = ran out of the chute. Heifers were scored as 1 = not reluctant and 2 = reluctant to enter head restraint.

Postmortem measurements were taken on the left front 3rd and 4th fused metacarpal (cannon) bone. Length (middle peak of the base to the sagittal ridge) was measured with an Absolute Digimatic caliper model CD-12" CP, while width (lateral to medial), and thickness (cranial to caudal) measurements were taken with an Absolute Digital caliper model CD-8" CS.

Statistical Analysis. Average bone measurements were compared as dependent variables by the heifer temperament variable (balked at head gate, did not balk) using a two-tailed t-test in SAS proc t-test (SAS, 1999-2000). When F-test for quality of variance was significant, the unequal variances t-test was used. Otherwise, the pooled variance t-test was used. Steer temperament variable (exit score) was analyzed as a dependent variable in a one-way ANOVA (SAS, 1999-2000) with cannon bone measurements as the independent variable.

Results
Steer cannon bone thickness (P = 0.008) and width (P < 0.001) were related to the speed of exit from the squeeze chute. Steers with thicker and wider bones exited the chute at a walk, while those that trotted or ran out of the chute had thinner and narrower cannon bones (Table 1). Heifers with wider (P = 0.07) and thicker (P = 0.06) bones tended to be less likely to balk at the head restraint (Table 1). Both steers and heifers with larger cannon bones were calmer than those with smaller bones. Other indicators of temperament (i.e. activity level in the squeeze chute, entry speed into the chute, and hesitation to enter the chute) were measured, but were not significantly associated with cannon bone measurements.

Table 1. Association between temperament of steers and Heifers and postmortem cannon bone measurements*                               
                                                        Cannon bone measurements in mm
                                              Length                    Width                                      Thickness
Temperament                  mean (s.e.m.)              mean (s.e.m.)                      mean (s.e.m.)
*******************************************************************************************
Steers                                    P = 0.71                    P< 0.001                            P = 0.03
Walked out                            216.92 (1.63)            45.16 (0.47)                      28.22 (0.32)
Trotted out                            216.42 (0.98)            43.89 (0.28)                      27.55 (0.19)
Ran out                                  214.6 (2.35)              41.52 (0.67)                      26.76 (0.46)
*******************************************************************************************
Heifers                                  P = 0.90                      P = 0.07                            P = 0.06
Balked                                  196.24 (24.82)            36.09 (4.55)                      23.62 (2.99)
Did not balk                          199.69 (8.15)            40.05 (0.36)                      26.24 (0.17)
*p-value (Ho: Bone size means between temperament variables are equal)

Discussion
Participants in the livestock industry are interested in increasing productivity while lowering production costs. Cattle producers are no exception, and have recently begun to utilize physical indicators of temperament and performance in order to better achieve their goals. The utilization of physical indicators that are easily observed, such as hair whorls, scrotal circumference, and cannon bone size, may be useful tools for producers in making management and breeding decisions.
Literature Cited
Coe, P. H. 1993. Adjusted 200-day scrotal size as a predictor of 365-day scrotal circumference. Theriogenology. 40(5):1065-1072.
Grandin, T., M. J. Deesing, J. J. Struthers, and A. M. Swinker. 1995. Cattle With Hair Whorl Patterns Above the Eyes Are More Behaviorally Agitated During Restraint. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 46:117123.

Grandin, T. and M. J. Deesing. 1998. Genetics and behavior during handling, restraint, and herding. In: T.Grandin (Ed.) Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals. pp. 113 -144. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Lanier, J. L., T. Grandin, R. Green, D. Avery, and K. Mcgee. 200 1. A Note on Hair Whorl Position and Cattle Temperament in the Auction Ring. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 73:93-101.

Ott, R. S. 1986. Breeding Soundness Examination of Bulls. Current Therapy in Theriogenlogy. P 125-136, Randle, H. D. 1998. Facial Hair Whorl Position and Temperament in Cattle. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 56:139-147.

SAS. 1999-2000. SAS Systems under Microsoft Windows. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC.

Smith, B. A., Brinks, J. S., and G. V. Richardson. 1989. Relationships of sire scrotal circumference to offspring reproduction and growth. J. Anim. Sci. 67(11):2881-2885.


 

Jill

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If I read this correctly the smaller boned tends to be the flightier, larger boned the happy go lucky type, seems to work that way in humans also.  I would have to say this is what we have found, never really kept track, but the bigger boned just seem to work better for us maybe because that is what I like :).  The ones I can remember being kooks around here all seem to be the frail jumpy type, don't have many and they don't last long in my barn.
 

DL

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ROAD WARRIOR said:
DL - It's not often a cowboy theory has science to back it up. Chalk up one for the "good old boys"!

Yeah don't ya love it when science confirms your reality - chalk one up for the "good old boys" and a few of us women too! ;D

Jill - I am with you on the flighty light boned ones not staying long!
 

yuppiecowboy

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I think that is his name. PHD from S Africa. They named a breed after him. Anyway, My dad was at a clinic where he could tell you anything about the production history of a cow by her hair. If I remember right , the darker the hair down the spine, the better the cow. Also could tell the sex of an unborn calf by the tail switch. Lots of interesting stuff. Wish it had been written down so I could test it, but dad claims what he has noticed it is eerily accurate.
 

knabe

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Yeah don't ya love it when science confirms your reality - chalk one up for the "good old boys" and a few of us women too.

this was how eugenics got started in the US in the early 1900's with propenents such as bell, rockefeller, carnegie and industry giants.  later it propogated to europe resulting in WWII and everyone forgot the proponents in the US, including those closely linked with aiding hitler, including IBM, prescott bush, ford, rockefeller etc.  Hitler used IBM's punch card system to aid inventorying the elimination of everyone from obviously jews, but "slow" people and many other classes which were more than the jewish population which was eliminated, and largely forgotten, mostly through propoganda, similar to the other internment camps in the US for italians and germans who haven't received compensation or apology.

not saying there aren't links, such as hair twirls on the rear ends of cattle indicating milk quality, quantity and marbling in books SJcattle indicated, just that one has to be careful.

wow, 700 members!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

sjcattleco

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A word about Bone..... so many people tend to breed for bone..or they want to increase bone mass... You hear judges talk about the substance of bone....When you get an abundance of bone you loose carcass quality... Bone is a trait that should be looked at as a happy medium... not to fine and not too coarse...
 

cowz

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We had a vet that would never do any work on a horse without finding the location of the hair whorl on the head first.  The ones with the whorl between the ears always had the twitch nearby!! ::)
 

JbarL

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what great stuff.....at my granddads place in spencer west virgina years ago........i think hair and the such was the only thing they could go by...cause there wasnt a  big enough level spot to stand one on.....my pop ups arent working ...but  we are bustin a gut here....and anyone who no's the area or has similar terrain no what i'm talkin about.....its got us lookin for some old pics......got one of my granddad plowing his garden with his horse....and it looks like Bristol Speedway,......hope i can find it........on the scientific/cowboy side of it though...i was wondering if that terrain promoted the heavy fronts/ and skinny...and i mean skinny butts.....in that area?????i realize that back then feed was from the farm and not a luxery for pretty cows...but in my recolection all of the cows were all thick in the front and small butts....i am assuming ( which gets me in trouble sometimes)
but the terrain and subsuquent " work out"  they get every day would promote front growth and  actually a lighter rear end would eventually promote " better handling'' and "comfort  in the turns "and downhills ??????  guys i cant thank you all enough for this topic and all the joy we have been getting from all the recolections it has kindled  and the obivious similarties in the nascar comparrisons for all you race fans....thanks  a ton....jbarl
 

garybob

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JbarL said:
what great stuff.....at my granddads place in spencer west virgina years ago........i think hair and the such was the only thing they could go by...cause there wasnt a  big enough level spot to stand one on.....my pop ups arent working ...but  we are bustin a gut here....and anyone who no's the area or has similar terrain no what i'm talkin about.....its got us lookin for some old pics......got one of my granddad plowing his garden with his horse....and it looks like Bristol Speedway,......hope i can find it........on the scientific/cowboy side of it though...i was wondering if that terrain promoted the heavy fronts/ and skinny...and i mean skinny butts.....in that area?????i realize that back then feed was from the farm and not a luxery for pretty cows...but in my recolection all of the cows were all thick in the front and small butts....i am assuming ( which gets me in trouble sometimes)
but the terrain and subsuquent " work out"  they get every day would promote front growth and  actually a lighter rear end would eventually promote " better handling'' and "comfort  in the turns "and downhills ??????   guys i cant thank you all enough for this topic and all the joy we have been getting from all the recolections it has kindled  and the obivious similarties in the nascar comparrisons for all you race fans....thanks  a ton....jbarl
Similiar to Appalachia, I grew up in the Ozarks. Before we "improved" our cattle ( to satisfy industry demands), the cattle in that region were much the same as what you describe. I believe that to climb up and down hills, it is better to be heavier-fronted. Also, to eat Fescue, thrive, reproduce, etc., cattle need a lot of thoracic capacity(deep chested).
 

justintime

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Where the legs on one side of their bodies shorter than the other side as well ... so that they could eat on on the hillsides easier?
 
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