Temperament is a term used by most deer farmers to describe the behavioural characteristics of individual deer to indicate their suitability as a farmable animal. For example, farmers may talk about culling deer with 'bad' temperament, or selectively breeding deer with 'good' temperament.
However, the term ‘temperament’ is seldom well defined; an animal’s behaviour is a reflection of its temperament. There are many types of behaviour expressed by deer and these behaviours vary according to the situations each deer faces. Generally, farmers make subjective decisions about what constitutes good or bad behaviour for individual deer during yarding, when the animals are well outside their ‘comfort zone’ in the close proximity of people.
As humans have long been a predator of deer, the close presence of people elicits in deer the classical ‘flight or fight’ response, which is a natural response in a threatening situation. Such behaviours present risks of injury to both handlers and other deer. Farmers would generally prefer deer that remain calm during yarding and ‘flow’ well through the pens.