The use of an isolation box test (IBT) to characterize personality traits has been used in non-bovine species with success. We aimed to develop an IBT for dairy calves and determine if the behavioral responses to an IBT were associated with personality traits found from traditional tests (novel person, novel object, and a startle tests) and average daily gain (ADG; Kg/d) through weaning. Calf movement while in the IBT was measured via accelerometers attached to 5 locations on the exterior of the box. A total movement index (TMI) was calculated based on accelerometer readings during the IBT. We performed a principal component analysis on the traditional tests and identified 3 influential factors that we labeled as “fearful,” “bold,” and “active.” Calves were weighed biweekly to track liveweight ADG. Factor scores and ADG were regressed against TMI. A significant negative association was found between the TMI and the factor “active,” indicating the validity of IBT as a tool for assessing some personality traits of dairy calves. Furthermore, TMI had a positive association with ADG through the entire experimental period and thus has potential to help predict performance through weaning. IBT has potential to be used as a personality test in research scenarios. Further development is needed to produce an IBT that would be appropriate to measure animals' responses reliably in production settings. An automated test that can accommodate a wide range of ages and developing a computer learning model to interpret output from the IBT would be a possible option to do so.

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Published in Frontiers in Animal Science, v. 3, article 770755.

© 2022 Woodrum Setser, Neave, Vanzant and Costa

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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The research for this study was funded by a United States Department of Agriculture NIFA Hatch Grant Project KY007100 at the University of Kentucky.

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The datasets presented in this study can be found in online repositories. The names of the repository/repositories and accession number(s) can be found at: 10.17632/6gsrdyv48d.1.

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fanim.2022.770755/full#supplementary-material It is also available for download as the additional file listed at the end of this record.