Preponderance of Body and Limb Conformational Deformities in Sheep in the Sahel


Ideal conformation is a blend of balance, structural correctness, tracking, musculature/muscling and character. These determinants impact the sheep’s health, gait, longevity, and productivity. Existing patchy data show that frequency of body and limb conformational defects in the sheep in the Sahel is high. A survey on the conformational deformities of the body and limbs in sheep in the Sahel show prevalence of 17.92%. Amongst these are curvilinear spine, angular limb deformities, sloppy or straight pastern and hoof overgrowth. Common defects like hoof overgrowth, varus and valgus deformities, cowhock or bowleg tend to cause milder functional disruption. The rarer defects like torticollis, limb paresis, spider lamb syndrome, contracted flexor tendons and congenital joint rigidity occur sporadically but manifest severe consequence. The frequencies of disorders were more in the male than female, higher in limbs than body and more preponderant in the forelimbs than hindlimbs. Faults of conformation continue to be a significant issue that impede the overall development of sheep production system and profitability. In the Sahel schemes for conformation referencing do not exist. Hence the need for comprehensive databank and a reporting system for the preponderant conformational disorders that predispose ruminant livestock to injuries, lameness and eventually loss of productivity. Moreover, livestock population is growing and so is the frequency of conformational anomalies. It is therefore pertinent, using selective breeding programmes, the abundantly available early detection and corrective tools, thorough and effective management practices to mitigate the deleterious effects of conformational defects and allow increased productivity of the sheep.

Keywords: Conformational Deformities, Preponderance, Sahel Region, Sheep.