Functionally Pretty
01 Aug '17
It's show season! County fairs and ferris wheels all over the place with that gentle hum of blow dryers and clippers emitting from the stalls. How's the serenity!

While it's an exciting time of year with a fresh set of prospects emerging to push the industry forward I thought it would be the ideal time to throw a resource out there on how to make em' functionally pretty.

Put em' on sound footing

A good foundation is imperative to the animals longevity, while it's tempting to get the angle grinder out to tidy up a hoof here and there, stop for a moment and consider the benefits of selecting for foot quality:
cattle structure feet

Not too rigid, not too relaxed

Looking at the foot angle, this will heavily impact a bulls athleticism and how evenly the he'll wear the hoof so it's important to get this one right...get it wrong and you'll pay for it in hoof trimmings and early breakdowns:
cattle structure foot angle

Onto the front legs

The shoulder is yet another critical point, they're not only shock absorbers for the beast but can also represent calving ease or issue. On a structurally sound animal, a vertical line can be drawn from the point of the shoulder to the middle of the claw crossing the knee.
cattle structure shoulders
cattle structure shoulders
cattle structure front legs

Moovin' to the rear

The structure of the hind legs is similar to that of the front legs. Again, there are well-defined angles in the joints at the hip, stifle, hock and pastern joints. The angles are critical, particularly during serving when large amounts of stress are placed on these joints.
cattle structure shoulders

In Summary

Get all these things right while keeping the eye appeal of the animal and you'll be reaching the gold standard of cattle breeding. There are of course added benefits to being critical on structure which will reward you generation after generation in reduced maintenance and the eye of any good judge as your free moving, fault free bull strides through the ring!
cattle structure stride

Contributed by James Cullis

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