Hoof Care Management Tools


5-Step Trimming Process

5 step trimming process


Abnormal pressure may be put on the corium because of improper horn growth and incorrect weight-bearing. For instance, the outer claw is often higher and bigger in size than the inner claw. Standing on a hard surface will make the bigger (outer) claw carry more weight than the smaller (inner) claw. In the long run this will seriously damage the corium. By means of trimming something can be done about this.

Claws that are too long should be shortened first. An excess of horn underneath a claw which is too high may be cut away.

If there are no lesions, one should make sure that sufficient healthy horn is left to protect the corium. This cutting should be done in such a way that the claws stand upright on the ground, which ensures an even pressure on the corium, by the pedal bone. In case of lesions, horny borders which exert pressure must be cut away or be thinned down.

So, improper (unsuitable) claws must be trimmed, preferably before lameness occurs. If there is a person on the farm who can judge the condition of claws, he knows which animals need foot care and how often they need it. If this is not the case, then it makes sense to have all milking cows treated once a year, as a matter of precaution.

When learning how to trim claws, the following working plan for the trimming of claws can be recommended.

Step One (functional trimming):

1.0 Judge the length of the claws- usually the shape of the inner claw is more normal than that of the outer claw and hence the length of the inner claw must be taken as a yardstick 7.5cm for an average Frisian cow.

1.1 If necessary, clip the inner claw to correct length.

1.2 Cut, departing from this length, a plane bearing surface underneath this claw. When doing this as little horn as possible (if any!) should be taken in the heel area, so that later on it will be easier to make the outer claw equally high. Plane includes: the bearing surface at right angles to the long axis of the shin bone in standing position. This ensures a stable supporting surface on hard ground. A proper length ensures a proper thickness of the sole, certainly in the front part of the claw (5-7mm). A proper sole thickness (a sole hardly or not at all impressible) is important!

Step Two (functional trimming):

2.0 If necessary, clip the outer claw to the same length as the inner claw and cut, if possible, the outer claw to the same height as the inner claw. If possible because the sole may not become too thin! The anterior margins should point in the same direction, when comparing the two claws. Again, make sure to obtain a plane bearing surface.

Step Three (functional trimming):

3.0 If necessary, cut some slope in the sole (the three steps to this point are functional trimming)

3.1 If there are horn lesions remaining (fissures, a sole ulcer, separation of horn in the white line), then this diseased claw needs further treatment (the next two steps become relevant – curative trimming).

Step Four (Curative trimming):

4.0 Take away more height towards the heel, in order to transfer more weight to the healthy claw which gives the diseased claw more rest. It may be necessary to fix a block underneath the healthy claw in case the sole of the diseased claw becomes too thin when trimming (too vulnerable). Whenever in doubt, fit a block. A claw block is always cheaper than a lame cow.

Step Five (Curative trimming):

5.0 Take away loose horn.

5.1 Trim down hard ridges; do not damage the quick!

5.2 Trim the other foot.

N.B. Good trimming is easier said than done; learning it requires good supervision.

Short Bullet Point Summary of the Five Step Process

For practical hoof trimming one should use the following 5-step schedule:

Functional Trimming:
* 1 Make the inner claw 7.5cm long. Leave 5-7mm thickness in the tip. Spare the heel.
* 2 Make the outer claw equally long, and make the bearing surface at the same level as the inner claw (if possible).
* 3 Make a slope (model) in the sole.
Curative Trimming
* 4 If the outer claw is damaged, make this claw lower towards the heel, so the weight is transferred partly to the sound claw.
* 5 Remove loose horn and trim down hard ridges.

For more information about proper hoof trimming or to book a place in our next hoof trimming course give us a call on 0800 833 463 or click here to contact us via our website.