A SOURCE of frustration for clinicians dealing with lameness in livestock is a discrepancy between pronounced clinical signs and a lack of visible changes in the hooves, especially in cattle and horses. In contrast, pigs' claws usually appear more severely altered from the exterior than they do from within; nevertheless, hidden lesions in pigs' feet are common. The same is true in small ruminants. A post mortem examination of feet from lame animals returned after slaughter is usually highly rewarding. This article describes a procedure whereby inaccessible and concealed lesions may be exposed by very simple means. The horn shoe is removed and its inner surface, the corium, its deeper layers, the tendons, ligaments, bursae, bone surfaces and joints are dissected. This provides an efficient and useful instrument for practitioners seeking the cause of clinical signs and, furthermore, may help support a decision to slaughter a lame animal lacking visible lesions.
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