Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Hoof trimmers demonstrate how to trim on two different chutes

Skip Blake for Progressive Dairyman Published on 04 November 2016

For about 15 years, I have been volunteering to help the Hoof Trimmers Association by manning the organization’s booth at World Dairy Expo. Each year, I strike up conversations with visiting trimmers and discuss trimming techniques.

Three years ago, I decided to start a clinic where trimmers and other industry professionals could meet during the expo for hands-on trimming experience. Each year, the clinic also highlights new equipment and products.



On Oct. 6, hoof trimmers, veterinarians, vet students, nutritionists and industry representatives gathered for the clinic at a dairy farm owned by Fred and Brad Clark just outside of Madison in Oregon, Wisconsin.

The clinic provided opportunities for hands-on learning.

The purpose of this year’s clinic was to demonstrate two different styles of trimming chutes.

I brought my right-layover chute, and my friend Cory Wagner set up his hydraulic-upright chute. Another featured trimmer on-hand was Richard Weingart, a past Hoof Trimmers Association president.

Blocking was among the techniques demonstrated


During the clinic, attendees observed several trimmers using these different pieces of equipment. Some observing trimmers, vets and vet students were allowed to trim and work on infected feet as well. One recent vet graduate mentioned she worked on more hoof issues during this one-day clinic then she had in her four years of vet school.

Trimmer Cory Wagner demonstrated his upright-hydraulic chute

Another benefit to this clinic was allowing trimmers and other industry professionals to observe other techniques and equipment. I can remember during several hoof trimmer gatherings where trimmers would be antagonistic toward anyone who trimmed with different equipment or used a different technique.

During this year’s clinic, both a layover and upright chute were demonstrated so attendees could observe the advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, with a layover chute, the trimmer can observe all four hooves at once as well as the front of the hooves in the trimming position.

One advantage of a layover chute is that the trimmer can view all four feet

The upright chute can make the hoof more secure and allows the trimmer to see the hoof from a straight-on view. One drawback is that if trimming alone, the trimmer needs to walk around the chute to trim all feet.


This clinic demonstrated that, if properly operated, both types of chutes are safe for cows and trimmer alike. After the clinic and evaluation, there was little to no difference in speed or quality of trimming between the two types of chutes.

It was refreshing to see trimmers working together trying to learn and teach others our great profession.  end mark

PHOTO 1: The clinic provided opportunities for hands-on learning. Here, veterinary student Sarah Appleby assists Skip Blake in applying a block. 

PHOTO 2: Blocking was among the techniques demonstrated.

PHOTO 3: Trimmer Cory Wagner demonstrated his upright-hydraulic chute. This style of chute makes the hoof more secure and gives the trimmer a straight-on view of the hoof.

PHOTO 4: One advantage of a layover chute is that the trimmer can view all four feet at one time. Photos provided by Skip Blake.

Skip Blake is with Shamrock Cow Care. Email Skip Blake.