Researchers Study 6 Ways to Measure Hoof Conformation

Several methods of measuring size and shape are used to evaluate hoof conformation in research and clinical practice. Researchers in Vienna, Austria, and the Czech Republic compared 42 linear, 17 angular and three area measurements from the hooves of 16 cadaver forelimbs using six different techniques.

The techniques were direct measurements, scaled photographs, Microscribe (a three-dimensional digitizing software tool), photogrammetry (three-dimensional modeling based on 50 photographs of each hoof), dorsopalmar and lateromedial radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scanning. Several ratios and differences were also computed for each technique to define and describe hoof shape.

Absolute equivalency of the methods was found for five linear, but none of the angular measurements. Precision across the methods was comparable. Radiographs tended to overestimate and CT scans tended to underestimate linear measurements. Photogrammetry and scaled photographs were found to be less suitable for measuring hoof angles. The Microscribe tool and accompanying software were found to be useful with good equivalency to other methods. Several landmarks could not be identified on radiographs and CT scans. Direct measurements had some practical limitations when measuring things such as proximal hoof wall angle. Angle measurements in general tended to be more imprecise, attributed to the variability inherent in needing to identify three landmarks as opposed to two for linear measurements. Radiography and CT scanning introduced the largest general variance into linear measurements, while scaled photographs and photogrammetry introduced the most variance for angular measurements.

Five of the 16 hooves were classified as symmetrical, and most had conformational issues…

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Albert Kane

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

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