Deeming, L. E., Beausoleil, N. J., Stafford, K. et al. 2019. The development of a hoof conformation assessment for use in dairy goats. Animals 9(11), 973.
The assessment of hoof conformation is important due to its recognized relationship with the biomechanical functionality of the hoof. Hoof conformation can be assessed using objective measures or subjective scores. However, to date, there are limited data using either method in dairy goats. Therefore, the aims were to (1) develop a reliable method of assessing hoof conformation in dairy goats, and (2) compare two aspects of a subjective assessment against corresponding objective measures as a means of validation. A total of 1035 goats contributed photographs across 16 commercial dairy goat farms. Photographs were taken of the left front and left hind hoof in the lateral and dorsal aspect at five assessments across the goats′ first two lactations. Hoof conformation was assessed using five subjective scores (toe length, heel shape, fetlock shape, claw splay, and claw shape) and two objective measures (toe length ratio and claw splay distance). Following the training of two observers, high levels of inter and intra-reliability were achieved for both the subjective scores (>0.8 weighted kappa) and objective measures (>0.8 Lin′s concordance correlation coefficient). Two aspects of the subjectively assessed ordinal scores were compared with the objective measures with high levels of accuracy (>0.8). This suggests that the subjective scores may be a suitable alternative to more time-consuming objective measures when assessment is completed using photographs.