Rifkin, R. E., Grzeskowiak, R. M., Mulon, P-Y. et al. 2019. Use of a pressure-sensing walkway system for biometric assessment of gait characteristics in goats. PLoS ONE 14(10), e0223771.
The purpose of this study was to quantitatively assess gait characteristics and weight-bearing forces during ambulation in goats free of lameness using a pressure-sensing walkway as a biometric tool for stride, gait, and force analysis. Forty-six non-lame adult goats ranging in age from 5 to 6 years, mixed-breeds, and with a mean body weight of 52 ± 7.1 kgs were used. Goats were trained to walk over a pressure-sensing walkway. Data for analysis was collected on 2 different days, 3 days apart. On each day, 2 to 5 walking passes, in the same direction, were captured for each goat. Data from 2 valid passes meeting the criteria for consistent walking gait on each day were averaged then used for analysis. Analysis was performed, including the day-effect, for stride, gait, and force characteristics. Of the 46 goats enrolled in the study, complete data sets were achieved in 33 (72%) goats. Gait biometrics were similar among the assessment days; therefore, all data was pooled for the purpose of characterizing data for individual limb and biometric parameter comparisons at the individual goat level. Statistical analysis revealed that no difference within the paired limbs, and that there were significant differences between the front limbs and hind limbs. Maximum force and maximum peak pressure were significantly greater for the front limbs as compared with the hind limbs (p < 0.001). Based on the results, gait and force characteristics can be consistently measured in goats using a pressure-sensing walkway during a consistent walking gait. Goats apply greater force to the forelimbs during the weight-bearing phase of stride as compared with the hind limbs. The use of objective assessment tools is expected to improve the ability of researchers and clinicians to monitor changes in weight bearing and gait and will contribute to improved animal welfare.