Thermographic Screening of Beef Cattle Metatarsal Growth Plate Lesions
Department of Animal Medicine, Productions and Health (MAPS), University of Padua, Viale dell’Università 16, 35020 Legnaro, PD, Italy
MSD Animal Health Srl, 20090 Segrate, MI, Italy
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Johann Kofler
Received: 22 November 2021
Revised: 6 January 2022
Accepted: 7 January 2022
Published: 13 January 2022
Young beef bulls are predisposed to develop diseases of the growing skeleton, especially growth plate lesions. These lesions jeopardize both welfare and production, often leading to anticipated culling and diminished weight gain. However, beef cattle are prey animals and do not exhibit signs of pain and lameness until the disease becomes extensive and severe. Fast methods to screen for growth plate lesions presence could therefore lead to prompt treatment of the affected animals, enhancing recovery and diminishing losses. The aim of the present study was to examine the potential of infrared thermography as a non-invasive tool for rapidly screening beef bulls for the presence of growth plate lesions. Here, 20 Charolais and Limousine beef bulls affected by growth plate lesions were screened using infrared thermography. A difference in maximum, mean, and minimum temperatures was detected between healthy and affected growth plate areas, and a difference in mean and maximum temperatures was detected globally in the affected limbs against healthy ones. Infrared thermography could therefore serve as a reliable tool for screening growth plate lesions in beef bulls, permitting rapid detection at pen level and aiding fast and targeted treatment, thus improving animal welfare and production.