Bovine podiatry

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Bovine podiatry is a branch of veterinary medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of the defects of a bovine foot.

Bovine podiatrists, also called hoof trimmers, trim and care for bovine hooves. The majority of their business comes from dairy cows. The upkeep and care for dairy cows hooves is very important. When cows become lame their milk production and fertility decrease. Lame cows tend to have more reproductive problems, and thus are more likely to be culled for butchering. Animals with hoof problems suffer, and farmers have to spend time and money caring for lame cows.

There are many different methods for trimming hooves. Hooves were once trimmed with a sharp knife while the cow was restrained and positioned with ropes. An improvement in trimming came with the tilt table, which tilts the cow horizontally exposing all four feet at the same time. The advantages of the tilt table include its quick set-up, low cost, contribution to the speed and efficiency of the bovine foot-care operation. A horizontal tilt is the perfect position for a cow, causing no stress to the animal and no injury. This is currently the most effective method in bovine podiatry. Most hoof trimmers now use an hydraulic layover chute, which restrains a cow in place and allows the trimmer to work on each hoof in turn.

A hoof trimmer must have all the right tools. Hoof knives,chipper wheels and hoof nippers are the most common tools used. The tools must be very sharp, and the trimmer must be familiar with the proper hoof-shaping techniques. As a general rule, trimmers try to shape the cow’s hooves to provide the optimal weight bearing surface.

Prevention is important. Cattle areas should be kept dry, since a hoof kept constantly wet becomes soft and subject to injury and foot rot. The cows should have room to move so that their hooves experience normal wear. A freshly-trimmed hoof can be treated with copper sulfate to prevent foot rot.