Solid Footing

American Angus Association to start collecting hoof scores to generate expected progeny differences.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 4, 2014) — The American Angus Association is now accepting hoof scores in anticipation of developing an expected progeny difference (EPD) to assist in selection decisions, Dan Moser told cattlemen gathered for the breed improvement breakout session at the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show Nov. 4-6, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo.

“Folks are making significant investment in your genetics, and they expect them to last, he noted, pointing out that proper hoof structure plays a significant role in an animal’s longevity. Moser encouraged those in attendance to start collecting and submitting hoof scores as he unveiled a foot-scoring system the Association will use to evaluate the trait in Angus cattle.

“Our goal is to come up with a simple system that characterizes the cattle well enough that we can build tools to help with your decision-making in the future,” said Moser, who serves as president of Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) and director of performance programs for the Association.

Developing those selection tools depends first on gathering data, said Moser. Emphasizing that doing so is strictly voluntary, he encouraged Angus breeders to submit foot scores on two traits — foot angle and claw set, scoring both on a 1-to-9 scale, where 5 is the ideal. He offered diagrams used by the Australian Angus Association to illustrate the scoring system (see Fig. 1, click on image to see larger file), noting that educational materials from the American Angus Association would soon be forthcoming.

Looking at foot angle, Moser explained, the ideal to score a 5 would have a 45° angle to the pastern. Animals that are extremely weak in the pastern, very shallow in their heel and extremely long on their toes would score a 9.

“Animals that are extremely straight in their front end and up on their toes, having no set to their pastern, would be a 1,” he said, noting that you don’t see very many modern Angus cattle at that end of the spectrum.

For claw set, the ideal to score 5 would have some space between their toes and their toes would be basically straight and symmetrical, Moser described. Toes that tend to curl in a little would score 7 or 8, while toes that curl to the point they cross over would score a 9. Toes that spread out more would score lower on the scale, with widely open and divergent toes scoring a 1. Again, few modern Angus animals would fall on the low end of the scale.

Moser offered some tips to keep in mind when scoring hoof structure:

Sale time provides a deadline by which breeders must score the bulls they raise; however, there may be opportunity to score females as they age. Moser encouraged cattlemen to submit hoof scores on groups of 3-, 4- and 5-year-old females, as well.

“As soon as we feel there’s enough data from enough members to give a reliable and useful EPD, that’s something we’ll implement,” Moser said. The end goals, he concluded, are to describe the variation that exists in the breed and to provide a tool to members that they can use to apply selection pressure for foot conformation if they choose to do so.

Moser spoke during the Breed Improvement Workshop Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 4. Watch for an expanded version of this story in the January 2015 issue of the Angus Journal. For more information about the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show, visit www.angusconvention.com.


 

Editor's Note: This article was written by staff or for the Angus Journal®. It is available for reprint upon request to editor Shauna Hermel. Photos are available upon request.

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers. For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit www.angus.org.