After a long winter, the mad rush of the dairy herd to the fields for fresh spring grass makes a farmer cringe in fear, peeking out of the corner of one eye to spot a slipped ligament in the udder or a good twist of the foot.
Thankfully, both can be avoided – one by improved genetics and the other by good management!
Spring pasture season is a logical time to evaluate your cows to determine whose feet need attention.
The soil is still moist – meaning hooves are still soft & pliable.
Dewy grass cleans the toes and legs of the cow, making hoof care a significantly cleaner endeavor.
A good trim prevents chips or tears from long toes and improves mobility when walking around uneven pasture terrain.
Our milk cow Rosebud modeled for the pictoral “how-to” photos below. She has good strong feet, but they tend to like to grow long. Maintaining her feet through regular trimming keeps her at top health – important for a 12 year old milking cow!
Let’s Get Started:
- Halter and lead rope to secure cow – preferably in a stanchion or against a wall to limit how much “wiggle room” the cow has.
- Recommended PPE – Work boots, long pants, eye protection, gloves
- Tight-grain wooden board to stand feet on during trim
- A refresher course from Progressive Dairyman: Visual Dictionary of the parts of a Cattle Hoof
IMPORTANT NOTE: STOP trimming a section if you hit blood. Blood can be limited/avoided by trimming off very small sections at a time. The most likely spot to hit blood is at the tip of each toe toward the center, where the toes tend to touch when they get long as is shown on the “Before” hoof blocked in red in the photo above.
For more in-depth detail and commentary, please visit our website page: Trimming Hooves