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Claw lesions have a multifactorial origin and may affect sow welfare and farm profitability. However, estimating the precise impact is hampered by several factors that interfere with the accuracy of claw lesion assessment. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of observer, scoring condition and claw cleanliness on claw lesion scoring in sows. The first experiment evaluated the impact of observer by calculating the inter- and intra-observer reliability during three test sessions using photographs. The second experiment evaluated the impact of observer, scoring condition (Feet First© chute of Zinpro Corp., "sow chute" vs. Mobile Claw Scoring Device, "MCSD"), and claw cleanliness (clean or soiled claws) on claw lesion scoring. For this experiment, 20 hybrid mid-gestating sows were hoisted up using the sow chute in which the MCSD was positioned. Lateral and medial claw digits of both hind claws were scored for heel horn erosion and separations along the heel/sole junction and white line. Scores were given by drawing a vertical bar on a 160 mm tagged visual analogue scale (tVAS); the severity of a claw lesion type was determined by measuring the distance from 0 mm. Four scores per sow were collected and analysed: clean claws × MCSD video recordings, soiled claws × MCSD video recordings, clean claws × visual scoring in a sow chute, and soiled claws × visual scoring in a sow chute. In both experiments, observer had an impact on the claw lesion scores. The inter-observer reliability was highest for overgrown dewclaws and lowest for the horizontal wall cracks (0.84 and 0.35, resp.). The highest intra-observer reliability was found for overgrown dewclaws and heel horn erosion (0.89) and lowest for vertical wall cracks (0.64). Furthermore, scoring condition and claw cleanliness influenced the scores in the second experiment and the limits of agreements were high (23.5-58.9 mm). The improved concordance correlation coefficient (iCCC) was highest for the heel horn erosion scores. In conclusion, the impact of observer seemed less relevant for claw lesion scoring; however, claw cleanliness and scoring condition were important and cannot be used interchangeably.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPREVENTIVE VETERINARY MEDICINE
Volume175
Pages (from-to)104859
ISSN0167-5877
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 7820910