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Farm Animal Practice
Post mortem examination of the hooves of cattle, horses, pigs and small ruminants under practice conditions
  1. Pete Ossent

    Pete Ossent graduated in veterinary medicine from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, in 1974. He is currently based in the University's department of veterinary pathology, supervising the diagnostic services and teaching final year students. His main interest is the pathology of orthopaedic problems in all species. He is a charter member of the European College of Veterinary Pathology.

  2. Christoph Lischer

    Christoph Lischer graduated in veterinary medicine from the University of Zurich in 1989. He is currently chief assistant in large animal surgery in Zurich. His special interests include orthopaedics in ruminants and acupuncture in all species.


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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