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Trimming to Perfection

By Kristen Kelderman, Farm Animal Care Coordinator

As the spring breeze starts to warm and winter wheat fields showcase a lavish bright green hue across the countryside, I begin to notice myself missing the farm more and more. Summer is my absolute favourite time of the year to work and visit my home farm; it’s a whole different world… with an endless to do list. While it is not every day that I get to enjoy this anymore, I had the pleasure of accompanying hoof trimmer Vic Daniel to a family dairy farm in Ontario, recently. 

Hoof trimmer Vic gives a dairy cow's feet some close attention and care

Vic invited me to tag along to a farm with him, after we met at Eastern Ontario Dairy Days, where he presented a wealth of knowledge on dairy cow lameness.  On average, a dairy farmer will ensure their cows” hooves are trimmed twice a year. Proper foot care is an important component of a farmer’s herd health program.

I was quite excited to see Vic’s work and intrigued by his hoof health recording computer system. After putting a few heifers through the handling facility and checking their feet, Vic put me to work entering in the identification numbers of the cows as well as noting any hoof issues we saw. Like most technology today, it was extremely easy to use and very practical. At lunch, Vic explained a research project that he is working on; focusing on reducing lameness and the effect it has on the farmer’s bottom line. He hopes to feature this lameness study by writing a paper later on this fall on his findings. 

Spending the day talking about digital dermatitis, sole ulcers and hemorrhages would probably not interest most people, but I was fascinated…to say the least. But at the end of the day it was the wealth of knowledge that Vic shared with me that really made my day.  He is an incredibly literate individual and has an extensive background in agricultural history. I’m not much of a history buff myself, often falling asleep during the old black and white documentaries. But listening to Vic’s stories of olden day techniques of trimming  feet and some of the historical literature that he owns on cow genetics and the true type cow amazed and captivated me (and I didn’t doze off).

Like many farmers, Vic’s passion for farming and cows is embedded in his DNA. Trimming feet for many years and growing up on a dairy farm himself, I was quite impressed with his handling of the cows in the barn. Being a hoof trimmer is not always the most glamorous of jobs, especially when dealing with that last old cow that can be a bit reluctant to cooperate. It could be easy to develop a short fuse in these types of situations, but Vic treated each and every cow with the same calm demeanor. We talked a bit about cow handling and how it is can sometimes be overlooked at the farm level. Both of us agreed that when handling and moving cows, less is more in the long run. I do have to give the family praise whose farm we visited. They practice excellent cow handling methods on their farm.

I am very thankful to Vic for having me out to the farm for the day and for the dairy farm family for touring me around their facilities. All around it was a fantastic day. I greatly enjoyed Vic’s company and his wealth of knowledge.

 

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 12th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,careers,Dairy cattle,Farm life,Research,Uncategorized
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One Response to “Trimming to Perfection”

  1. Ladd Siebert, DVM
    April 12th, 2012

    Dear Kristen,

    This was a very enjoyable and informative article.

    Vic is a very fine hoof trimmer and has an infectious enthusiasm for his work, as I am sure you found out. Some of this enthusiasm is now being focused on hoof research which I think will yield dividends that have worth.

    Sincerely,

    Ladd

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