Researchers Study Links Between Donkey Hoof Shape and Lameness

Three researchers from New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United States conducted a cross-sectional survey of working draft donkeys in Pakistan to evaluate hoof size and shape while looking for associations with conformation, lameness and shoeing.

Sixty-one male donkeys were examined while in harness. Lameness was subjectively scored on a 0-4 scale, and digital images of each left and right front hoof were obtained using smart phone cameras and measured at a later time.

The majority (90%) of the donkeys were between 6 and 25 years old. Half (33 donkeys) were shod on both front feet. Few animals had bowed out limbs, while 38% were bowed-in, resulting in toe-out conformation.

While none of the animals were reported by the owner to be lame, 13% had joint effusion or swelling of the tendons or tendon sheaths, 11% had increased digital pulses and 90% showed signs of lameness with 64% showing consistent lameness. Older donkeys were more likely to be lame.

A quarter of the donkeys had been pin-fired, and this was more common among unshod donkeys. On average, toe length was about 6.5 cm and toe angle was 62 degrees. There was considerable left-right and mediolateral asymmetry. Asymmetry and shoeing were not associated with lameness.

— Rosanowski SM et al. EVJ 2022;13861

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Albert Kane

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

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