Texas A&M AgriLife
Visual structure evaluation is best evaluated from the ground up.
Go from hooves, heels, pasterns, knees, hocks, shoulders, hooks, pins, rump and back.
"Be very critical of how they get out and travel." Womble said. For cattle with ample forage and feed, structure may be a little less important. For cattle on rough range that have to get out and look for forage, structure is more important.
Simply, sounder cattle last longer.
When cows slop too much in their hip, they get their legs up under them.
Cattle that are correct have their feet securely underneath them. They have about a 45 degree angle to their shoulder.
Cattle that are too straight on their front and hind legs look good standing still. But, when we put them on the move they really struggle.
We want a 90 degree angle from the point of the shoulder to the top of the shoulder and from the point of the shoulder to the elbow. If this angle is great than 90 degrees, the cattle are too straight, too upright in their shoulder. Cattle that are too straight often have toes that point to the sides instead of straight forward.
When looking at the back legs, we should be able to draw a straight line form their pin bone down to the ground past the hock and the pastern.
Cattle can be sickle hocked. The legs are underneath the animal, and there is too much angle to the hock.
Post legged is when the hock is too straight. There is no angle to the back legs. These cattle do not stride smoothly.
From the rear, the hind legs should be straight and toes should point straight forward.
If a bull toes out, the hocks are closer together than the feet. These cattle often have swelling in their hocks.
Cattle can also be bow legged. The hocks are out wider than the toes.
We want big feet with lots of surface area for stability. We want depth to the heel.
Cattle that hump up (roach up) as they walk are likely compensating for being too straight.
Decker's Take Home
Until we have EPDs for structure, use visual appraisal to find cattle that are structurally correct. Look for cattle that can cover their stride (back hoof falls in the hole left by the front hoof) and are correct from the ground up.