“WANTED: Hoof trimmers! Please contact!”
The Hoof Trimmer and his profession are an essential part of a dairy cow’s performance. I too often hear something like the following from dairy farmers:
“Keeping up with hoof trimming my cows has been a challenge over the past ten years. My cows’ hoof quality gets further behind every year. I realize my losses when I do not properly keep up, but it is hard for farmers in our area to find a hoof trimmer who is willing to travel. Do you have any hoof trimmer contacts or any suggestions on how to deal with this?”
Is finding a hoof trimmer a challenge for you?
It is very common for the ‘do-it-yourself-trimmer’ after several years to want to delegate the trimming chore to someone else. On most farms, lameness is a daily occurrence, and there are so many other aspects of dairy farming that compete for the farmer’s attention. Very often there are simply not enough hours in a day to give lameness your very best. Needless to say, turning a blind eye to lame cows is not an option, and lameness (if neglected) is an often under-estimated expense.
What are the benefits of keeping lameness under control and at a low incident rate?
When your herd is healthy:
- it will be more ‘fun’ being a dairy producer
- you’ll have happier cows
- and ultimately you should expect to see an increase in your bottom line (Return on Investment: ROI).
How do you maintain a healthy herd?
Here is how to achieve this goal.
- Keep the focus on continuous hoof care just like mastitis.
The herdsman is the person that is familiar with the cows: he sees them daily and knows the animal’s way of walking. Any observation that differs from a normal gait should be reported and dealt with, ASAP. One tip: never panic when a cow goes lame, even when it is your best cow. Just focus on a protocol and follow the steps.
It is important to understand the causes of lameness and know the correct treatment protocols for each different problem. In reality, there are only a few hoof diseases among dairy cows, and being aware of this can help you keep your herd healthy and contribute to improving the profitability of your dairy operation.
The saying ‘practice-makes-perfect’ definitely applies to hoof trimming.
When it comes to hoof care “time is of the essence.” As professional hoof trimmers, we very often don’t have the resources to ‘treat’ every lame cow ‘today’ immediately when it occurs. (It is just like mastitis: the veterinarian does not come out to address every occurrence either.) Therefore, it is important to tackle the hoof care basics by having an easy and safe way to lift a foot.
If you want to safely and efficiently learn how to “lift a foot” read “Hoof Signals – Success Factors for Healthy Hooves.” This book is full of colorful pictures and clear instructions thereby outlining how to manage your herd’s hoof care properly.
Once you have dealt with any lame cattle, the next step is to:
- Stay focused on preventative trimming.
This is where you may then ask:
- ‘Why should the professional trimmer be an asset to my operation and be part of my team?’
- and ‘where can I find a hoof trimmer that is willing and able to travel?’
Here are the reasons why you should strongly consider working with a professional hoof trimmer:
- He assists and educates the producer on how to treat lame cows.
- He finds and provides the producer with updated research and relevant information about hoof health management (including hoof spraying, foot bath products, and foot baths).
- The hoof trimmer is part of your success team along with other professionals when they are needed (veterinarians and nutritionists).
- And lastly, the hoof trimmer trims the herd to prevent & control lameness assisting the producer with strategic maintenance programs (on-going footbaths and herd-spraying methods).
To summarize, maintaining a healthy herd requires:
- timely treatment (to deal with any active issues)
- and preventative maintenance.
This approach will help you achieve your goals and maximize your ROI.
We could certainly use more hoof trimmers in Canada. Therefore, I often recommend this occupation to young men and women who do not mind some hard work and like the idea of being a valuable resource for dairy producers. So you may then ask ‘Where are the hoof trimmers?’
Here are some excellent resources to find dedicated, professional hoof trimmers and bridge the gap between hoof trimmers, producers, and other professionals such as veterinarians and nutritionists:
- Hoof Trimmers Association Inc: They also have a database of hoof trimmer members and which the geographic locations they work: a great networking tool. The current president Vic Larson or the president-elect Philip Spence can be contacted for more information or visit the contact page on their website.
- The Ontario Hoof Trimmers Guild (OHTG) These trimmers meet and network in Ontario. One of the founding members, hoof trimmer Vic Daniel is ready to answer your questions via his website: Vic’s Hooftrimming Course
- The Western Canadian Certified Hoof Trimmers Association (WCCHTA). These hoof trimmers network mainly in Western Canada. Hoof trimmers and board members Rob Geier or Doug Johnstone are available on the respective Facebook pages or via the WCCHTA website.
Finally, let me know if this plan works for you and your herd. I love to hear if you were able to find a local hoof trimmer.
Please feel free to forward any further questions on our contact page.