There are a few things that farmers do not look forward to, with two of those being trimming sheep hooves and clipping cattle. At least with the latter, the process is a fairly quick and easy process, thanks to the advanced cattle clippers available on the market today.
Hoof care is something that’s absolutely essential and if you’ve put it off until now, you need to find the time to get it done, as procrastination has a way of catching up with you.
To help you with the initiation of this job without you injuring yourself and hurting your herd, we’ve put together an A-Z of trimming sheep hooves that’s bound to get you (and your sheep) through the difficult process unscathed!
Here’s how to get started.
How Frequently Should You Trim Sheep Hooves?
There’s no specific answer to this question, as trimming might vary from sheep to sheep, along with other factors that come into play. The hooves of your flock grow at different paces and with this, the frequency with which you trim hooves will be impacted. Sheep that stay in damp environments will expose their hooves to rather tricky and slippery conditions. This will warrant that the hooves be trimmed more often.
If you’re in an area that has dry spells coupled with a rocky terrain, you will be able to get away with trimming just once or twice in a year.
It will help you to be more attentive toward your flock’s hooves. Observe how they are managing to get around and adopt a proactive approach when caring for the feet of your sheep. If one of your sheep is unable to move, it means that there may possibly be other diseases on the horizon, which will dramatically affect your entire herd, so it is vital that you act fast.
Hoof Trimming Equipment for Your Sheep
Just like you use sheep shears to clip wool, you will need an appropriately sized set of hoof trimmers. You can also use a pair of gloves to protect your hands, a hoof pick to remove manure and small stones wedged in between the hoof space. If hoof rot is rampant in your flock, you should definitely consider having some sort of ointment that will help treat the infection.
Step by Step Guide to Perform the Perfect Trim
Step 1 – Start off by getting rid of extra growth that’s present on the outer part of the hoof. Stop trimming once you begin hitting a lighter shade and when the hoof finally appears to be flushed with the pad.
Step 2 - Repeat the same process along the backside of the hoof. Keep trimming the overgrowth off so that the edge of the hoof appears to be smooth and flush with the base of the hoof.
Step 3 – Once you’re done smoothing over the hoof area, carefully clean up the inner part of the hoof. Be extremely careful when cleaning and trimming the inner pockets of growth so that microbes don’t get into the space to take root and breed.
Step 4 – Taking extra precaution, trim the tip of the hoof untll it becomes as smooth and flush as the rest of the area. Be cautious when doing this and don’t go too carried away, as you might make the hoof bleed. Stop trimming when there’s no overgrowth left to be cleaned and when lighter colours on the hoof are visible.
Step 5 – Repeat the entire process on the other side of the hoof so that you end up with clean hooves on both sides. It should look well-trimmed, with no leftover weak pockets where bacteria can wedge themselves in.
Repeat this process on all four hooves and soon enough, your entire herd will have a spring in their step.
The Difference Between Trimmed and Untrimmed Hooves
A hoof with overgrowth that curls over the sole of the foot, down to its heel, is an open invitation for bacteria to breed. When this is the case, it becomes easy for these tiny microbes, mud and other particles to get caught in-between the hooves amidst the excess overgrown flap.
If this is left unchecked for a long time, it can cause hoof rot which is a painful condition for sheep. As a farmer of a herd, you need to protect them from numerous conditions, including fly strike and hoof rot.
When you’re done trimming the hoof as demonstrated in the step-by-step guide mentioned above, you will see a huge difference – and possibly even in the behaviour of your herd. It is very evident that a hoof that’s thoroughly cleaned and trimmed will leave no place for bacteria to hide and breed and that will leave no room for any infections, which is your end goal.
Hoof care can be somewhat tasking, but it is absolutely worth the effort required. Regular hoof trimming will keep the feet of your sheep healthy and they will be a lot more comfortable, which makes your job a lot easier too.
It is important that you’re patient when performing the trim and the process will be a lot smoother if done slowly and in an unhurried manner.
Get in touch with us today to see how we can take the edge off this process with our state of the art equipment designed specifically to address the difficulties faced by farmers.