Behaviour, welfare and health

Development of a pododermatitis score in breeding does using clustering methods

I. Olivasa1, A. G. Torresa2 and A. Villagráa1 c1

a1 Centro de Tecnología Animal CITA-IVIA, Polígono La Esperanza 100, 12400, Segorbe, Castellón, Spain

a2 Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Camino de Vera s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain


Pododermatitis in rabbit production is an important welfare problem and there is less information on this type of lesion in rabbits than in many other species. The aim of this work was to develop a scoring system to assess the presence and severity of pododermatitis through observation of 1367 photos of rabbit feet by two observers. Different groups of lesions were established according to color, size, presence of chaps, presence of ulcers, shape, appearance and presence of blood in each observed foot. A two-step cluster methodology was used to gather the results in homogenous and objective units. The inter-rater agreement was moderate, and after the cluster analysis four main clusters were obtained. These clusters were later comprehensively described in terms of pododermatitis severity. Finally, attending to cluster description, a five-level score was defined and this scale resulted in a practical and objective way to assess pododermatitis in rabbit does. Cluster analysis provided a detailed characterization of this type of lesions and helped to obtain uniform scores.

(Received May 30 2012)

(Accepted October 22 2012)

(Online publication January 09 2013)


  • cluster analysis;
  • pododermatitis;
  • rabbit;
  • score;
  • welfare


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