Technical note: Digital quantification of eye pigmentation of cattle with white faces
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2015 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved. Cancer of the eye in cattle with white faces occurs less frequently in cattle with pigmented eyelids. Corneoscleral pigmentation is related to eyelid pigmentation and occurrence of lesions that may precede cancer. Objectives of this study were to assess 1) variation in the proportion of eyelid and corneoscleral pigmentation in Hereford, Bos taurus, and Bos indicus crossbreds and 2) the occurrence of lesions with the presence of pigmentation in those areas. Hereford and Bos indicus crosses (Brahman or Nellore with Angus and Hereford and straightbred Brafords) and Bos taurus crosses (Angus-Hereford) were included in the study (n = 1,083). Eyelid pigmentation proportions were estimated by pixel quantification and were evaluated as total proportions and for upper and lower eyelids distinctly for each eye. Fixed effects included breed type, age categories, and sex of the animal. Lesion presence (1) or absence (0) was obtained by visual appraisal of image and was assumed to be binomially distributed. Eyelid pigmentation proportions (overall, upper, and lower eyelids) for Hereford ranged from 0.65 0.03 to 0.68 0.03 and were significantly lower than Bos indicus (range from 0.93 0.02 to 0.95 0.02) or Bos taurus (ranged from 0.88 0.02 to 0.92 0.02) crosses. Corneoscleral pigmentation in Hereford cows (0.17 0.06) did not differ (P = 0.91) from Hereford calves and yearlings (0.16 0.07). Bos indicus and Bos taurus crossbred cows had larger corneoscleral pigmentation (0.38 0.05 and 0.48 0.04 for left eyes and 0.37 0.05 and 0.53 0.04 for right eyes, respectively) than all calves (P < 0.001), and their corneoscleral pigmentations were greater than that of Hereford cows (P < 0.003). Bos indicus and Bos taurus cows had greater proportions of left eye corneoscleral pigmentation (0.38 0.05 and 0.48 0.04, respectively) than Hereford cows (0.17 0.06) and all young animal breed types (P < 0.05). Right eye proportions differed for all cow groups (P < 0.05; 0.53 0.04, 0.37 0.05, and 0.17 0.06). Among calves and yearlings, Hereford had a lower right eye corneoscleral pigmentation proportion (0.16 0.07) than Bos taurus (P = 0.02). The lesion proportion for Hereford (0.08 0.03) was significantly greater than that of either Bos indicus (0.01 0.005) or Bos taurus (0.01 0.003). Crossbreeding with Bos taurus or Bos indicus animals appears to increase eye pigmentation, which may help reduce the occurrence of cancer in eyes of cattle with white faces.