Our Customer, Zoe Davey, has recently completed a course on foot trimming and has been kind enough to share her thoughts below.
I’ve always been interested in cattle foot trimming and have been a ‘knowledgeable assistant’ when Maurice has been doing the trimming on our farm. Time seems to have been getting tighter and foot trimming was suffering – it’s the sort of job that we can all say we’ll do tomorrow! A chance came up to attend a four day course run by Karl Burgi and David Rowe so I decided to go, be properly taught and then take on the foot-trimming myself.
The first 2 mornings were spent in the classroom looking at anatomy and environment and how that impacts on lameness.
Functional Trimming – keep cow’s feet balanced and in good condition then the chances of them going lame are greatly reduced.
Therapeutic Trimming – if they do have a lesion what to do about it.
The main faults with foot-trimming are OVER TRIMMING of healthy feet and UNDER TRIMMING of lesions!
The first two afternoons we trimmed dead feet from the abattoir. I was pushed into using a power grinder which frightened me to death at first. We practised functional trimming before tackling a few lesions and putting blocks on. I was so pleased with what I had done that I brought several of my feet home to show Maurice. He was amazed at the difference between what we had been doing previously and what Karl was teaching. His daughter was also amazed the following morning to come in and find dead feet on the floor in the kitchen!!
The next two days we were on-farm doing the job for real with live cows. I was really anxious about it but we had 3 crushes set up and an instructor for each crush so we got a lot of practice (only 2 students on each crush) and a lot of supervision.
I have come home completely obsessed with foot-trimming. I have lists in the parlour to note down any problem cows as well as those for routine. Any spare five minutes of the day I am sneaking off to the crush to ‘just do another one’. The best thing is that I now love the grinder. Maurice watched me using the one we had at home and decided that a cordless one would be much safer. It’s really great and I would recommend that anyone who is doing much trimming seriously thinks about getting one.
I can see that a lameness free future is actually possible and that if I keep chipping away at it then it won’t take many months to achieve. With milk prices where they are then it is more important than ever to improve welfare and so directly improve profitability. We have come to the conclusion that this course was one of the best investments we have made of recent years.
Zoe & Maurice Davey farm at East Kimber, Northlew, Devon