Our cows are truly spoilt, just like us when we go to the nail salon to get our nails done, cows are the same. It’s a luxury for us but for cows it’s a necessity that their feet are looked after to be able to perform to the best of their abilities. Believe it or not, if cows feet are bad in any way it has an affect on every bit of their lives including the amount of milk they produce. During a cows eight week(ish) holiday, before they give birth, the cow will be seen by our foot trimmer. The cows may also need to be seen out of this routine appointment, if they are suffering with any lameness.
Our foot trimmer comes on a fortnightly basis to see the dry cows and to deal with any other lamenesses within the herd. He will inspect each of the four hooves and if there’s nothing sinister, the cow will get a routine pedicure trim (just without the nail polish being painted at the end)! The foot trimmer usually arrives around 8am, every other Thursday. He sets up his equipment and the machine that holds a cow steady whilst the task takes place (nicknamed the crush). Whilst he does that Gavin will sort out the cows that need to be seen that day and put them into a holding area, there’s usually around 15 cows seen at each visit. Each cow is then brought to the foot trimmer, walked into the crush. The machine then is electrically controlled to move a belt around the cows middle to help hold the cow in place whilst the machine turns on a 90 degree angle so the foot trimmer can access their feet safely. Unfortunately cows aren’t like horses where you can access each hoof easily by a blacksmith.
Sometimes there are problems found when the foot trimmer is looking at the cows feet, such as –
- A legion – which will require a block to be added to ease the pain
- An abscess or an ulcer – will also be treated with a block
- Foot rot – this is treated with a bandage with copper sulphate added to help the badness in the foot dry out the skin to help its recovery
- Digital dermatitis – gets a bandage too
- Laminitis – a course of antibiotics is given initially (prescribed by the vet)
Once the cow has finished with the foot trimmer the cow is then taken back to the main herd and that her visit complete. The foot trimmer is usually finished by 5pm (if not earlier) but before he leaves, everything is washed down for cleanliness and so that cross contamination doesn’t happen when he goes to another farm, the next day.
I would just like to say that what happens on our farm doesn’t always happen on other farms. All cows are different and lastly, I do hope I don’t receive any negativity for sharing this information as I have taken the time to write this.