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Animals 2015, 5(3), 687-701;

Measuring Claw Conformation in Cattle: Assessing the Agreement between Manual and Digital Measurement

IVABS, Massey University, Palmerston North 5321, New Zealand
Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jon Huxley
Received: 29 May 2015 / Revised: 6 July 2015 / Accepted: 7 July 2015 / Published: 6 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Cow Mobility and Lameness)
Full-Text   |   PDF [589 KB, uploaded 6 August 2015]   |  

Simple Summary

Claw conformation is commonly measured in cattle. It can be measured at cow-side or, by using digital images, on a computer. This study compared, for five conformational features of the claw, measurements made directly from the hoof with those made from a digital image of the same claw. Of the five measures, only one, toe angle, had results where agreement was good enough for the two measurements to be used interchangeably. The variation in differences between the digital and manual results for the other four measures was too great for them to be used interchangeably. When measuring claw conformation, more attention needs to be paid to the method used and it should not just be assumed that a different technique would have produced the same result.


Five measurements of claw conformation (toe angle, claw height, claw width, toe length and abaxial groove length) taken directly from the hoof were compared with the measurements taken from digital images of the same claws. Concordance correlation coefficients and limits-of-agreement analysis showed that, for four of the five measures (claw height, claw width, toe length and abaxial groove length), agreement was too poor for digital and manual measures to be used interchangeably. For all four of these measures, Liao’s modified concordance correlation coefficient (mCCC) was ≤0.4, indicating poor concordance despite Pearson’s correlation being >0.6 in all cases. The worst concordance was seen for toe length (mCCC = 0.13). Limits-of-agreement analysis showed that, for all four measures, there was a large variation in the difference between the manual and digital methods, even when the effect of mean on difference was accounted for, with the 95% limits-of-agreement for the four measures being further away from the mean difference than 10% of the mean in all four cases. The only one of the five measures with an acceptable concordance between digital and manual measurement was toe angle (mCCC = 0.81). Nevertheless, the limits-of-agreement analysis showed that there was a systematic bias with, on average, the manual measure of toe angle, being 2.1° smaller than the digital. The 95% limits-of-agreement for toe angle were ±3.4°, probably at the upper limit of what is acceptable. However, the lack of data on the variability of individual measurements of claw conformation means that it is unclear how this variability compares to measurement of toe angle in the same animal using the same or a different manual technique. View Full-Text
Keywords: claw conformation; limits-of-agreement; method comparison; digital image; manual measurement claw conformation; limits-of-agreement; method comparison; digital image; manual measurement

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Laven, L.J.; Wang, L.; Regnerus, C.; Laven, R.A. Measuring Claw Conformation in Cattle: Assessing the Agreement between Manual and Digital Measurement. Animals 2015, 5, 687-701.

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