Claw health seems to have a genetic component with a medium heritability. Thus, a collection of data and the use of this data in choosing breeding animals is useful to decrease lameness in cattle.
Aberdeen Angus is a widely spread beef cattle breed. In Portugal, the herd book has around 2500 adult females and 270 associated breeders, located mainly in the region Alentejo and in the Azores Islands. To prevent lameness, and the pain associated, it's extremely important to select animals with a good feet and leg structure. Data collection related with the feet and leg structure can be used in the genetic evaluation, and also be incorporated in the genomic studies. These traits show a medium heritability that makes their use in selection interesting. In Portugal, herd book technicians are collecting feet and leg scores, and in 2021, all animals registered in the herd book should have this information. This kind of data is already used for Angus cattle in other countries, like USA and Australia, and these traits are among those recommended by ICAR guidelines. Four traits are collected, in a scoring of 1-9 scale: Feet Claw Set; Feet Angle; Rear Leg Side View, Rear Leg Hind View. The evaluation is made when the animal is accepted in herd book adult section (between 18 and 24 months of age).

For more information about foot scores and source of the pictures:

To identify problem animals and thus reduce lameness in beef cattle, data collection for all animals in the portuguese herd book began in 2020. In 2021, this information shall be provided for all animals registered in the herd book.

This Good Practice has an Impact on:

  • Socio-economic resilience: Healthier animals lead to cost savings.
  • Animal health and welfare: Health and welfare improvement with the selection of animals with lower probability to have lameness problems.
  • Production efficiency and meat quality: Healthier animals lead to better performance.