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Trimming Sheep Hooves

Discussion in 'Everything Else Sheep' started by Don & Sandy, May 25, 2019.

  1. May 25, 2019
    Don & Sandy

    Don & Sandy Ridin' The Range

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    I have been trimming our sheep hooves. I’ve watched all the videos I could find online but all of their sheep stand perfectly still while their hooves are being trimmed and none of them look very bad. Our sheep, on the other hand, have hooves that are over grown, misshapen, etc. I have no idea how short to trim. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Included a pic of our newest baby.
     

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    AmberLops likes this.
  2. May 26, 2019
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape Herd Master

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    Your new baby is very sweet.....love the innocent little face.

    Best way to trim? DON'T. But we've all been trimming sheep hooves for years and it keeps them tidy and stops overgrowth etc.......but, unless your sheep are perpetually on boggy ground which won't ever wear them down....don't trim.

    Now this 'leave them alone' isn't my idea (otherwise it would would be best to ignore)....it's on the advice of the highest authorities of British vets. So, how does it work? Over here there is a '5 point plan for lameness' . It goes along the lines of a sore hoof is one that the sheep won't put the full weight on, so the 'nails' will grow. Once the hoof is no longer sore, the animal will put the full weight back on the hoof and wear it down again.
    If a sheep is seen to be limping, it should be examined ideally within 24 hours, and always within 48. If there's a foreign body, remove it, foot rot...treat with iodine spray and an injectable antibiotic (anti-inflammatory, too, if severe), CODD, high does long-acting penicillin plus anti-inflammatory, scald iodine spray, maybe foot bath...etc. However, NO hoof trimming. If you cut away the overgrown hoof, you force the animal to walk on the sore part (or rather, limp more to avoid putting the weight on it). There's lots of other advice about isolating animals with foot rot as it's an infection etc etc. Animals who get recurrent foot problems often have genetically thin hooves and may have to be culled (That's point 5 of the 5 point plan).

    Now if that all sounds crazy, don't shoot me, I'm only the messenger.

    So...does it work? Having followed the plan for the last 5 years or so, the answer is a resounding yes. From almost always having some animal limping, it's now a great rarity. Limping is usually now down to injury. My back feels better without the nightmare of trying to restrain animals who kick and buck, too.

    So overgrown hooves?....stick the animals on some hard ground for a day or two. Mis-shapen?...does it matter? I occasionally still do trim off broken chunks of hoof which can catch up small stones and other foreign material, but no regular or routine trimming.

    So, with regards to hoof trimming, Less Really is More.
     
  3. May 26, 2019
    mysunwolf

    mysunwolf Herd Master

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    @Sheepshape THANK YOU! I've had a hell of a time convincing folks in the U.S. to follow the same protocols, but it's working at our place.
     
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  4. May 26, 2019
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape Herd Master

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    Glad it's working for you, too. Farmers have been trimming hooves for centuries. When I had my first case of foot rot years ago, the neighbouring farmer came round and 'trimmed back until the hooves bleed. then put 'em on clean ground'. Poor ewe could barely hobble and was weeks until she got right. Now, I very rarely, if ever, take anything off and have genuinely not had any long-term problems. In fact, my last case of foot rot was over 2 years ago.
     
  5. May 26, 2019
    secuono

    secuono Herd Master

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    Trim to the pad, flat n level.

    Overgrown leads to foot deforming & higher chances of getting infection.
     
  6. May 27, 2019
    mystang89

    mystang89 True BYH Addict

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    I have 2 streams going through my property and the only place the sheep really have that would be "hard"ground would be the foot of bedrock that hasn't been overgrown with grasses just before the streams.
    The rest of the pasture is grass. I always become worried about foot rot during spring when it starts raining all the time.
    I normally try to trim the hooves at least once a year.
     
  7. Aug 20, 2019
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia True BYH Addict

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    G'day,i find the only time i have to trim is on some sheep when they "first arrive" because they have been on soft ground on on "bedding" in a barn.I never trim the rear part of the hoof only the hard horn from the toe back until the hard horn finishes...T.O.R.
     
  8. Aug 20, 2019
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Herd Master

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    If you just have to trim a hoof due to it splitting or breaking in such a way that it could cause infection in the hoof, the best way to know where to trim is to make sure you brush that hoof clean so you know what you are looking at and you'll see the contours of the hoof clearly. You should be able to see where the nail is and where the "quick" is...anything curled under the hoof can be trimmed but I wouldn't trim all the way to the quick...leave a small edge there for walking on, overgrown toes can be seen clearly...those can be nipped off a little and rounded a tad.

    The best way to see hooves clearly is while the sheep is seated...I find it very difficult to try and trim a hoof while it's standing and I've got a foot raised. It's hard on them and on you.

    A good way to let them wear off their hooves naturally if you only have soft pasture/ground is to put down some stone in front of where they water or eat hay and some folks put a pile of concrete blocks or large stones in each field, as sheep like to climb.

    I'd do a yearly foot check but the idea of not trimming is a good one...it's always better if they can wear them down naturally. Unless you see an obvious problem that causes them discomfort or a split needs trimmed, I'd leave them alone.

    Here's a vid that shows goat and sheep trimming:

     
  9. Aug 20, 2019
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape Herd Master

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    Having poor hoof quality is partly a genetic issue. Our so-called '5 Point Plan for Lameness in Sheep' has 'cull' as the last resort. I'm too much of a softie to do this, but, with presumably foot rot bacteria largely eliminated, most limping is down to injury rather than infection now.

    If the hoof is split and stones or soil could lodge under the ragged piece of hoof, removal of this piece is, of course, still a valid reason for trimming the hoof, but routine trimming shouldn't be necessary.

    Our fields are mostly pretty soft if not muddy due to an abundance of rain .So, if we have managed to largely avoid trimming, I'd have thought that most other folk should be able to do so, too. As trimming is hard work on us and stressful on the animal not having to do it is boon.
     
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