What are we losing? Are the personality traits of Italian autochthonous cows different from those of cosmopolitan breeds?
Objective: This study assessed personality traits in five cattle breeds (Bos taurus), two cosmopolitan (Holstein Friesian and Brown Swiss) and three endangered Italian autochthonous (Varzese, Rendena, and Modenese). Our aim was to provide an evaluation of the personality dimensions obtained by our questionnaire in order to compare some Italian autochthonous breeds with the cosmopolitan one. Our choice fell upon the comparison of the Varzese, the Modenese, the Rendena, the Brown Swiss, and the Holstein Friesian because the genetic selection at the base of the typical attitudes has induced different characteristics, and as a consequence, detectable differences in personality can be expected between the populations.
Materials and methods: A personality questionnaire was completed by milkers/owners for each subject involved in this study. The milking staff involved in the study have been working with cows for over 20 years; they have experience with numerous breeds, and therefore, can be considered expert evaluators since they certainly have an appreciation of the full range of cow behavior.
Results: The milkers’ assessments analysis found breed differences in dairy cattle, showing that certain personality traits are more marked in certain breeds in terms of curiosity, friendliness to milkers, and responses to unknown people.
Conclusion: This pilot survey shows the usefulness of questionnaires in cattle personality studies, highlighting some peculiarity of the endangered breeds.
Copyright (c) 2018 Giovanni Quintavalle Pastorino, Massimo Faustini, Francesca Vitali, Silvia Michela Mazzola, Giulio Curone
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