YOUR COW WILL HAVE HOOF PROBLEMS…
If… That is IF you don’t have a hoof care procedure in place on your homestead.
Recent studies have found that dairy herds can experience 15% to as bad as 60% of the herd experiencing some form of lameness!
Cows walk on essentially their toes and that’s a lot of weight on such a small area, it’s really important for the health of your cow to make sure you really take care of those four feet!
But caring for your cows feet can be complicated because there’s a lot of factors that go into the foot health of your cows.
Some factors that affect your cows hoofs include
type of cow (dairy cow vs beef)
Any number of combinations of these different traits can cause your cow to have bad feet, and that can lead to injury, sickness, and in worst scenarios even a poor quality of life and premature death!
SO how can you be sure to avoid these issues?
It is simple!
A yearly visit from a cow hoof trimmer is the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure!
And when put in dollars and cents figures, that ounce of prevention is way cheaper!
Our foot trimmer charges a little less than $15 per cow for a trimming.
Compare that to the cost of a vet visit to fix a foot problem, the vet won’t step onto our farm for less than $100!
We should know, just recently we had an issue with our Guernsey cow’s feet.
Our cow Fancy, having just moved farms, was a little stressed out.
Even with the proper foot care she got at the dairy she came from, she developed some foot issues.
We noticed her walking with a slight limp after a few days of arriving here.
Calling the vet for a farm visit, the medication and bandaging of the feet, all combined was a couple hundred dollars.
Sometimes problems will arise, but the point is DON’T WAIT to care for your cows feet! Get them the matienence they need and you will avoid much bigger issues in the long run!
Ok… You are convinced, you need a hoof trimmer. Now the hard part…
Where in the world do you find a hoof trimmer?
We find usually the best place to start is to ask your local dairy farmers.
Find the closest dairy farm to you, and ask them who they use for hoof care.
Bonus if you’re close to that dairy the hoof trimmer can stop by your house on his way home from doing that dairy’s cows!
We actually found our hoof trimmer Justin through an ad he placed at our local county fair!
Recently Justin came to do his yearly visit on our girls and we asked him a few questions about hoof care…
How can you tell that a cow’s hoofs need trimmed?
The first thing Justin pointed out was the way your cow stands, He looked at our cow Honeybee…
“One thing I look at, see how she’s twisting that leg out? That means the inside toe needs to be trimmed, which will rotate her legs back in the other way.”
Next thing Justin pointed out was the toe lenth… “They’re just long… she should look to us like she’s up on her tiptoes, they should have a deeper heel on a shorter toe.”
A few minutes of work with his tools and she was much better!
Do you only trim dairy cows hoofs?
“No, I do beef cows, show cows, i’ve trimmed a donkey or two, I’ve even trimmed rodeo bulls! it can be… a rodeo!
All cows potentially need trimmed. Typically with beef cows it’s only if they have a sore foot, most of the time they don’t get their feet trimmed just to get trimmed, but every cow is different so every cow’s feet are gonna grow different.
Typically with you know the big the big dairy farms they feed the cows to produce more milk but the extra nutrients in the feed also make the feet grow more, plus those cows typically are on concrete all the time which doesn’t wear the feet off like going out in the pasture. I think it’s because the concrete’s always wet, I think if it was dry the concrete would be more abrasive but in typical freestyle barns it’s wet and slippery they just grow out of control.”
How often should you get a cows hoof trimmed?
“Typically twice per lactation, once before they get dried off and then once in the middle of their lactation. For your guys they get some time out on pasture they might not need it done quite as often, I think once a year seems to be doing pretty good here.”
If you don’t do at least a once a year hoof timing, Justin warned what could happen.
“The longer the toes get, the more brittle they get, if they get too long they can break off and typically when they break off it’s like if you break a fingernail, it breaks too short and then it’s painful. If they grow faster on one side or another, a side wall can roll underneath and it can cause a pressure point on the bottom of the foot which will cause a lesion. It’s always better just to do some preventative maintenance.”
So.. If you can’t find a hoof guy… (or at least until you do find one…) is there anything you can do to help the hoof’s stay in good shape?
“Keeping your cows out on pasture will will certainly help naturally wear them down. You could try to trim them yourself, it’s hard, it’s hard to control the cow but you could certainly use a chisel or buy a set of hoof nippers and clip them back yourself.”
You could, but for the cost of bringing in a professional, like Justin, who has the proper equipment (including his awesome truck which lifts and flips the cow on its side so he can do a proper trimming, and a grinder with a special hoof trimming blade that makes short work of the cow pedicure) and years of experience, I would start visiting your local dairys and fairgrounds until you find your own hoof guy!
If you live in western PA, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org and I can get you Justin’s info!
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