The utilization of non-linear threshold models and linear animal models to estimate variance components for categorical reproductive traits in beef cattle was investigated. Three traits, retention (RET), stayability (STAY) and calf tempo (CT) were defined. The data set consisted of 36 880 Afrikaner beef cattle measurements recorded over a period of 10 years. After editing, the records of 7 746 females from 473 sires were available for the genetic parameter estimation for RET. The corresponding number of records for STAY and CT were 3 018 (243 sires) and 7 653 (465 sires), respectively. Using GFCAT, sire variances for RET, STAY and CT were estimated as 0.202, 0.072 and 0.114, respectively. With error variances pre-set to one, the heritability estimates on the underlying scale were calculated as 0.67, 0.27 and 0.41 for RET, STAY and CT, respectively. From the three traits analyzed in this study CT probably reflects the true fertility of the bull’s female progeny best.