The functional efficiency of beef cattle including sound claws are essential given that it has a marked influence on functional longevity and subsequent performance. The aim of this study was firstly to analyse Bonsmara inspection data to determine the extent of claw problems in the breed. Secondly, the evaluation of morphological and physiological claw characteristics with specific reference to major bioregions. Inspection data analyses indicated that 2.84% of Bonsmara cattle exhibited claw problems at inspection over a period of 11 years. Logistic regression models on a subset of inspection data revealed a significant influence (P <0.05) of sex and bioregion on claw problems with the sire effect insignificant. Breeder had the most significant effect on claw problems implying stricter selection policies of certain breeders with regard to claws as well as possible differences in management practices. Normal claws of 89 Bonsmara stud animals were collected from the three main bioregions where Bonsmara cattle are farmed (Mesic Highveld Grassland (Gm), Eastern Kalahari Bushveld (SVk) and Central Bushveld (SVcb) bioregions). The majority of the claws obtained were from Bonsmara bulls slaughtered after phase D testing with a few claws from older cows. Lateral toe length (LL), medial toe length (ML), claw circumference, colour coding and tensile strength (TS) were determined on fore and hind claws and mineral composition only on fore claws. Multiway ANOVA models indicated that bioregion, moisture content, calcium (Ca), selenium (Se) and claw position (fore versus hind) had a significant effect (P <0.05) on tensile strength. Bioregion, AgeSex and ForeHind effects were significant (P <0.05) with regards to the respective morphological measurements (LL, ML and claw circumference). The research serves as a benchmark for claw traits in the Bonsmara breed and will assist in future studies.
Dissertation (MScAgric)--University of Pretoria, 2015.