An evaluation of growth and symmetry in thoroughbred foals and Holstein calves.
Holstein calves were photographed and measured over a period of 84 days to determine the feasibility of Image Analysis as a measurement tool. It was determined that the disparity between actual measurements and image analysis measurements decreased as the bone length increased, and that image analysis could be used to monitor growth successfully in large ungulates, using the length of certain bone. Image analysis was then used to evaluate growth in Holstein calves on two weaning programs (weaned early at six weeks of age and weaned later at eight weeks of age). Calves were weighed and photographed over a period of 224 days to determine the effects of weaning on skeletal symmetry. Weaning time did have an affect on the skeletal symmetry of the calves, with calves weaned earlier found to be more asymmetrical. The extent to which skeletal symmetry is affected by a stress is determined by the nature and duration of the stress. The growth and development of Thoroughbred foals was recorded and photographed for a period of 300 days and the relative asymmetry for bilateral traits was assessed. Thoroughbred foal growth correlated to statistics reported over the last twenty eight years. Asymmetry can be detected in growing foals using image analysis. Weaning stress produced some asymmetry that the foals were able to recover from. One can use highly correlated body weight and height measurements to produce a tool stud managers can used to monitor growth. In young training Thoroughbreds (between 18 and 24 months of age), no significant asymmetry was found in the forelimbs but the hind legs displayed asymmetry, which has interesting implications for training and for performance criteria in the racehorse. Tools can be produced to monitor the growth and development of Thoroughbred foals destined to race, which can improve their management and the duration of their racing careers.