Hoof Care Expo 2017

Do you know what hoof trimming is all about? How would you rate your own or your staff’s hoof trimming skills?

Many people may answer that question with a certain amount of self-confidence. “It’s not that difficult, right? I have seen vet’s trim cows. I have even watched professional trimmers. I think I do a pretty decent job”.

Lameness is expensive. It is in the top three animal welfare problems, and along with mastitis and fertility, is in the top three main health costs on a dairy farm. It pays to take it seriously, and unfortunately, most people underestimate the skills and know-how required for proper hoof care. Just to put it into perspective, it takes 14 months to get a qualification in hoof care in Europe. Apparently, about 40% of trainees fail their exams after that time. I know that is at a professional level, but farmers are professionals as well, therefore their hoof care skills should be at a standard where the speed of recovery is similar to work performed by a professional hoof trimmer. We come across many cows that have been trimmed by farmers and end up being worse off after the trim than they were before.

A cow’s recovery does not necessarily reflect the quality of the trimming; most cows will recover without any outside interference. So, when we decide to intervene it needs to be done for the sole purpose of speeding up the healing process. I think a lot of cows in New Zealand are trimmed because it makes the farmer feel better, not the cow. This may be my bluntness coming through, but I see way too many cases that support this view. In reality, this is very understandable. Most farmers have had insufficient training, and because of my experiences teaching final year vet students at Massey, I can say that even most veterinarians have minimal training in this important skill. How can you be confident that you are helping your cows if you don’t know what aspects of the trimming process are important, and why?

We are planning a Hoof Care Expo at VeeHof Head Office on Coplands Road in Ashburton on the 17th of October. Along with demonstrations on hoof knife sharpening and claw block applications, and an opportunity to observe and experience trimming with a grinder, there will be a one-hour seminar that will explain in more detail the rationale behind the hoof trimming process. This program will run in the morning and be repeated in the afternoon, with lunch provided between sessions.

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