Sound claws are essential for beef cattle, given the marked influence they have on functional longevity
and subsequent performance. The aim of this study was to evaluate morphological and physiological claw
characteristics of Bonsmara SA beef cattle in the major bioregions of South Africa. Normal claws of 89
Bonsmara stud animals were collected from three bioregions in which Bonsmara cattle are farmed, namely
Mesic Highveld Grassland, Eastern Kalahari Bushveld and Central Bushveld bioregions. Most of these claws
were from Bonsmara bulls that were slaughtered after completion of a standardized intensive feeding test
and a few were from older cows. Lateral toe length (LL), medial toe length (ML), claw circumference, colour
coding and tensile strength (TS) were determined on the fore and hind claws and mineral composition only
on the fore claws. Multifactorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) models indicated that bioregion, moisture
content, calcium (Ca), selenium (Se) and claw position (fore versus hind claws) had a significant effect (P
<0.05) on TS. It is clear that environmental factors need to be considered in the evaluation of claw quality.
This research serves as a benchmark for claw traits in the Bonsmara breed. Recording of claw and
conformation traits is essential for genetic improvement.