Abstract Two herds of Hereford cattle, each containing bulls and steers, were observed at ages between 10 and 18 months to determine the frequency and patterns of social interaction exhibited by grazing male cattle. Bulls showed higher frequencies of all interactions except grooming and running, but the differences between bulls and steers were significant only at ages greater than 14 months. A large proportion of the interactions recorded within herds were dominated by a small number of animals, although these animals were not the same ones for each behaviour. The behavioural differences between bulls and steers are related to differences in the onset of “behavioural maturation”, the stage at which normal adult behaviour patterns are expressed. These differences have few management implications until 15–18 months of age. Daily patterns of social behaviours are also described, and it is suggested that these patterns are related to the daily changes in the grazing behaviour of cattle.