Abstract

It is well-recognised by producers that the temperament of farmed deer (Cervus elaphus spp.) influences how they respond to management practices, such as transport and yarding, but less is known about how temperament influences productivity. This study aimed to investigate relationships among temperament and production parameters by analysing a data set (n=1647) of rising one-year-old deer. Four production categories (growth, immune function, eye muscle and reproduction) and five measures of temperament were recorded from weaning until either pre-slaughter or after first mating (3 to 12 or 18 months of age) at different ages depending on the trait. Temperament traits had low heritability estimates (h2=0.01 to 0.17, P>0.05), indicating genetic selection for these traits would be slow. The temperament traits of animals were generally consistent from weaning (at 3 months) until slaughter (at 10-12 months). Animals that were calm and easy to handle grew faster and may have better immune function compared to animals that were more agitated in the presence of humans. More research is needed to investigate the relationships between temperament, immune function, reproduction and productivity in farmed deer.

JF, Ward, KE Schütz, M Wheeler, and GW Asher

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 79, Palmerston North, 32-36, 2019
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