Foot Scoring for Cattle: A Guide

The foot scoring system was developed in early 2014 as a way to score cattle in two areas that producers were seeing problems with out in the field: foot angle and claw-set. In April, the American Angus Association hosted the “Facts About Foot Scoring” webinar with Angus Genetics Inc. Genetic Director Kelli Retallick to dive deeper into the foot scoring process and its importance.

“So, the foot angle is really going to be that angle of the pastern to the ground. You are really trying to see how soft that animal is on their pasterns, how long are their toes and how much heel in in that particular animal. Whereas claw set foot score is basically how symmetrical and straight are those toes coming out of that hoof. Both of them have a 1 through 9 scoring system where five is going to be ideal. An ideal foot score for claw set is going to be two toes that are straight and symmetrical. If we move of the scale to a nine, those are going to be toes that are completely curled over one another and if we move to the opposite end of the scale that’s going to be an that is going to be divergent in their claw set.”

Variation in foot angle and claw set can be subtle, so it is important for producers to have a clear knowledge of the scoring system.

“So when we talk about the appropriate time to foot score these animals the earliest age we can foot score these animals is when they reach a year of age, but the issue with our year age cattle is that we don’t see a whole lot of differences or variation in those foot score and so we really encourage our members and our Angus producers to collect those scores as they mature. Normally as those animals reach two, three or four years of age we see a lot more differences, or expression in variation of foot structure in those animals and those are really important score to capture so we can really get the full breadth of the scoring system basically back in to data base back at the American Angus Association.”

Retallick shares some tips on how to get the most accurate foot score.

“Some things to keep in mind when we are scoring these animals. For some reason if you have to trim a foot on an individual animal, we don’t want to score that animal after we have trimmed those hooves. We want to make sure that we are really capturing the scores on the natural claw set and foot angle of our individual animals and we not finding animals that we can make into a five through hoof trimming. Make sure that we are scoring the worst foot – so as you enter that pen quickly examine all four feet, understand and pinpoint the worst foot on that individual animals and only score the worst foot for that angle and claw set on the animal at hand. You should make sure that you score the feet on a hard surface, on a surface that the animals can stand in its natural position. If there is some point in time that they can perhaps get out on, if you there is a loading pen you can run them in before you run them through the chute – something like that would realty increases our ability to capture accurate scores.”

Visit the American Angus Association YouTube channel, Angus TV, to watch the full webinar and to subscribe for more educational content.