Even experienced trimmers can pick up bad habits, so whether you regularly trim or are learning for the first time, re-affirming yourself with the ‘UK gold standard’ methods will be of benefit.
Dairy Veterinary Consultancy’s Owen Akinson breaks down and outlines well-known trimming technique, the Dutch five-step method, and explains the physiology of the cow’s foot.
Lift the foot so the cow is comfortable, then clean and dry the foot with sawdust. Work safely, says Mr Atkinson, and do not stand where you are likely to be kicked.
He says: “Trim the inner claw so the length of the wall from the coronary band to the toe is 75-80mm or 80mm for a typical Holstein. This is cut one.
“Shape the foot so it is level, leaving a 5-7mm step at the toe. This is cut two. Preserve the rear of the sole as this creates a more upright foot angle.”
Repeat for the outer claw, levelling up to the inner claw. Again, do cut one then cut two.
Mr Atkinson says: “Normally, more horn has to be removed from the outer claw [only minimal horn is removed from the inner claw to retain weight-bearing] and more horn is removed from the rear of the sole too, in order to get it level with the inner claw.”
Model, or ‘dish’, out the inner parts of both claws and behind the wall on the inner wall edge to allow a flow of muck between the toes and reduce weight-bearing on the typical solar ulcer site.
Always preserve the ‘toe triangle’ as this is an important weight bearing area and should not be over-thinned, advises Mr Atkinson.
This step is for creating a height difference for a painful claw (such as one with a horn lesion) so injured parts bear less weight and are allowed to recover, says Mr Atkinson.
“In most cases, the horn is removed from the back two-thirds of the outer claw – again preserving the ‘toe triangle’,” he says.
“Check the height difference with the flat on the hoof knife handle, as many cows will benefit from a block on the sound claw.”
Remove any loose horn from the heel. There will be more in cases of heel horn erosion, adds Mr Atkinson.
“Beware of removing too much weight-bearing surface from the bulbs of the heel. This step can also be used for cleaning and treating digital dermatitis lesions. Check between the claws and at the heel of digital dermatitis,” he says.
“The procedure for front feet is similar, except the outer claw is trimmed first and the inner claw is most likely to have injuries. Preserve horn on the outer claw.”