Development of an index based on ultrasonographic measurements for the objective appraisal of body condition in Andalusian horses

Tamara Martin-Gimenez, Carla N. Aguirre-Pascasio, Ignacio de Blas


Body condition scoring (BCS) is an indirect measure of the level of subcutaneous fat; however, by measuring the subcutaneous fat thicknesses (SFT), the precision of the degree of fatness assessment is improved. The aims were: 1) to develop an alternative body fat scoring index (BFSI) based on ultrasonographic measurements; 2) to assess the agreement between BCS and the new index applied to Andalusian horses; 3) to adjust the BCS cut-off values (if necessary) for overweight and obesity in this breed. One hundred and sixty-six Andalusian horses were included in this cross sectional study. On each horse, BCS, body fat percentage (BF%) and ultrasonography of SFT at localized deposits were evaluated. According to BFSI five possible body categories were established. Only one horse (0.6%) was classified as emaciated, 9.0% as thin, 74.7% as normal, 11.4% as overweight and 4.2% as obese. Despite higher BCS and SFT values were observed compared to other breeds, most of the horses evaluated presented a normal body condition under the new BFSI. BCS and BFSI were significantly associated (p<0.001), however, the concordance was low (weighted Cohen’s kappa coefficient, 0.262 ± 0.071; p=0.004). Using BFSI, obese horses had significantly greater BF% than the rest of categories (p<0.001). BCS showed a good diagnostic accuracy for detection overweight (AUC = 0.759 ± 0.055; p<0.001) and obese (AUC = 0.878 ± 0.050; p=0.001) horses; redefining the cut-off values for overweight and obesity condition as 7.5/9 and 8.5/9 respectively in Andalusian horses.


ultrasonography; subcutaneous fat deposits; objective score; adiposity; obesity; index

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2017154-11732