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Friday, May 6, 2016

Structural correctness in animals

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

As new offspring are hitting the ground, farmers have a lot to look at.

At first, they are concerned about the health and safety of the animal.

Then, as it grows, they begin to look at the animal in a different light.

They look at the muscling and the structural correctness because it can impact growth, reproductive performance and animal longevity.

You can judge the structural correctness of livestock when they are moving, however, you can see some issues when they are standing.

Structural correctness should be evaluated in all breeding stock (both sires and dams can transmit problems to offspring) and market animals (they may require more days on feed if they have structural problems).

Structural correctness can be evaluated by looking at the feet and legs along with the shoulder of the animal.

When looking at the foot of the animal, you want them to be large in size and have even claw size.

Often, if the animal has smaller feet, they will have short, steep pasterns and hocks or shoulders that are too straight.

It can also lead to abrasions on the sole of the hoof. When on the move, animals with smaller feet will have short, choppy strides.

When looking at the front feet of the animals, if the feet turn outward when viewed from the front, it is considered to be toeing out.

This condition is more common in cattle and sheep.

Animals that toe out often will be knock-kneed. Knock-kneed is when the knees of the animal are close together.

Toed in is when the front feet turn inward. In this case, an animal would be narrower based and have excessive wear on the outer part of the hoof.

If the length of stride is impaired and the animal doesn't appear to move correctly, then look at the shoulder.

It might be because the animal has a straight shoulder.

Animals with straight shoulders often appear to have a short neck.

Another shoulder problem that cattle and sheep tend to have is being coarse shouldered.

Often, animals are coarse shouldered because their shoulders are heavily muscled.

Coarse shoulders have been linked to increase incidents of dystocia.

The most serious structural defect in livestock is when the animal is post-legged.

Post-legged animals will be straight in their hock and will often have short, steep pasterns and small feet.

The opposite of being post-legged is to be sickle-hocked.

Sickle-hocked is when the animal has too much set to their hocks. This is caused by excessive toe growth, shallow heels and weak pasterns.

You can identify an animal that is sickle-hocked by looking at it on the side view.

When viewing from this angle, the animal would have its legs underneath its body and when it moves, it will over extend its length of step with its high legs.

As always, if you have any questions or would like any information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County, or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* April 5 -- Owen County Farmers' Market Vendor Meeting, Farm Bureau Building in Spencer, 6 p.m.,

* April 5 -- Farmers Market Boot Camp, Terre Haute, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost is $15. Call 765-494-1296 to register by March 29,

* April 7 -- Clay County 4-H Council Annual Spring Fish Fry, 4-7:30 p.m.,

* April 10 -- Farmers Market Boot Camp, Terre Haute, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost is $15. Call 765-494-1296 to register by April 3,

* April 19 -- Farmers Market Boot Camp, Terre Haute, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost is $15. Call 765-494-1296 to register by April 12,

* April 24 -- Owen County Extension Board Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, and

* April 26 -- Youth Earth Day Program, Owen County Extension Office, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

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