Anecdotal reports indicate a relationship between foot conformation and the severity of ovine footrot lesions. In the present study, an objective scoring system was developed to assess foot conformation in sheep. The following parameters had a high repeatability and reproducibility: toe length, toe height, sole length, sole width, and interdigital skin length.
Bhardwaj, V., Dhungyel, O. P., de Silva, K., Dhand, N. K., Whittington, R. J. 2018, ‘An objective method for assessment of foot conformation in sheep’, Small Ruminant Research 167, pp. 22-28
Assessment of foot conformation in sheep is important to study the aetiopathogenesis and impacts of diseases causing lameness. There currently exists no objective system to assess foot conformation in sheep. Based on the system of assessing conformation in the feet of dairy cattle, a set of parameters that gauged conformation in sheep are developed. They were measured in a group of sheep to assess their repeatability and reproducibility, within and between observers. Conformation parameters were compared between medial and lateral digits of the same foot. Of all parameters assessed, toe length, toe height, sole length, sole width and interdigital skin length had high repeatability and reproducibility. Most of the parameters measured were different between the medial and lateral digits, indicating anatomical or conformational differences between the two digits. A recommended approach for assessing foot conformation in sheep included manual restraint of sheep in dorsal recumbency and measurement of toe length, toe height, sole length, sole width and interdigital skin length of both digits in all four feet using digital calipers.
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