A sharp, well-angled knife is extremely important when trimming cows’ feet.
When sharpening a knife, aim to put an edge of 30-degrees on to the blade, this provided a more accurate tool when thinning out around an ulcer or a white line abscess and helped make trimming easier, said Mr Rowe.
He advised using a rubber wheel impregnated with diamonds, known as a diamond file, to create the 30-degree edge, followed by the use of a felt wheel to take the burr off the back of the knife.
Mr Rowe said: “Put a line on your grinder at the 11 o’clock position to help achieve the correct angle and lift the knife up parallel to the bench. Move the blade from left to right along the rubber wheel at the 11 o’clock position.
“This will produce a slight burr on the back of the knife which can be removed by the felt wheel to give a polished edge on both sides of the blade. Paste can then be applied to the felt wheel to polish the knife even further.”
Farmers could buy kit which included the rubber and felt wheels, as well as the paste stick for less than £80. The rubber wheel would last for many years and the felt wheel may need replacing more regularly, explained Mr Rowe.
To prolong the life of the rubber wheel, run another a piece of rubber over the wheel when it is turning. This drew the minute knife filings out of the wheel, as rubber helps clean rubber, he said.
“Knives should be sharpened as often as possible, ideally after every trimming session, it is then best practise to put knives into disinfectant after trimming. Another good tip is to keep the knives in an old milking tube, which keeps the blade edge sharp and out of harm’s way.”
A good quality knife will cost about £12 to £13, said Mr Rowe.
He added: “You can buy knives at a cheaper price, but the steel quality may not be as good. You can also buy knives which are more expensive, but knives at the £13 mark are usually very adequate.”