Last month I was talking about the importance of preventative hoof trimming. This month I would like to go through the three steps of preventative hoof trimming, also known as functional hoof trimming.
The aim is to have the cow standing correctly on the ground. If the toe is too long the cow will lean back on her heel. The claws also need to be flat to give more stability, especially the inner claw, as once the hoof is trimmed correctly, the weight will be distributed evenly across both claws. Yet many inner claws are concave and will “fall over”. I often use the analogy of ladies who walk on high heels. Some of those heels are as thin as my little finger. How come they can still walk in those shoes and not fall over? Because they have the stability in the toe, it is just the same with our cows. The toe needs to be flat for stability, the heel gives height. Therefore we want both claws to be the same height in order to distribute the weight of the cow equally over the two claws.
Step one: We start on the inner claw. This is the smallest of the two claws and the closest in shape and size to what we want to achieve. Once we have trimmed the inner claw we use it as an example for the outer claw to make it the same. The length of the claw is crucial. It needs to be 7.5cm in length. A small cow can be slightly shorter but you would be best to stick with the 7.5cm. Once you have cut the claw at the right length, the thickness of the cut is the thickness of the sole on the toe part of that claw. The toe needs to be 7 mm thick but the heel needs to be left as high as possible. The more you take off the heel area on the inner claw the more you will have to take off the outer claw to match the inner claw later.
Step two: Once you have finished the inner claw you can do the same on the outer claw – cut the claw to 7.5 cm and make the toe 7 mm thick. This time you need to trim the whole claw down to the same height as the inner claw. Make sure the claws are flat. If the claw is uneven the cow will feel like she is walking on a rocking horse. Now that the claws are balanced, they will bear the weight evenly across both claws.
Step three: All we need to do now is scallop out the inside of the claw, being careful not to go too far forward.
And this is what preventative hoof trimming is about. Every cow should be trimmed in this way whether she is lame or not. For lame cows there are another two steps in the process but only after those three steps have been completed. Learning to trim like this really should be done under the supervision of a tutor. If you are keen to get better at trimming just give us a call on 0800 833463 to find out when our next training courses are or visit our Upcoming Events page.