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0609 EL: How to trim a dark-colored front hoof

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El Lechero Dairy Basics - Herd Health
Written by Richard Weingart   
Saturday, 31 October 2009 17:00

Hoof trimmer: Richard Weingart, North Franklin, Connecticut
Location: Utah

Click to read in SpanishCase study: Maintenance trim on dark-colored front hoof
Chute style: Right-tilt


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1. Knowing that cows on this dairy are grouped by age and stage of gestation, I determine that this is a second-lactation animal. A brief evaluation of her hooves shows no sign of lameness. A maintenance trim is needed. 2. This hoof exhibits the typical wear of a left-front hoof. The inner claw is longer than the outer claw. This cow should be trimmed so that the inner and outer claws match in length. You can also note the thickness of the sole by looking at the hoof from the rear. The thickness difference between sole horn on the outer claw and inner claw is significant. This is visible by noticing the ripples or ridges on the outer claw. The sole of the outer claw is thinner. It will need less trimming.
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3. I first trim the outer claw so that the thickness of the heel matches that of the toe. 4. Next I trim the heel and toe of the inner claw so that the sole horn thickness matches that of the the inner claw. Remember the inner claw’s sole was more thick. Trimming to match the thicknesses will ensure the cow walks flat on all parts of the hoof.
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5. My next step is to hollow out or concave the ulcer site of the inner claw. 6. The most important part of maintenance trimming is knowing when to stop trimming. Notice the difference in the dark manure-stained region of the outer claw. I’ve hollowed out the ulcer site there, which reduces pressure from the pedal bone on the corium, and removed as much sole horn as I believe will be necessary to support this cow’s weight and maintain a healthy gait.

7. To finish, I trim the toe length of the inner claw to match that of the outer claw.

8. For this maintenance trim, I didn’t trim too much. Some less experienced trimmers might feel bad about not trimming more. But by not overtrimming the sole thickness, ulcer site and toe length of this young cow, this trimming has done a lot to maintain her already healthy feet. EL


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