try to keep no more than 5-6 cows at a
time in a close up corral. it reduces stress on the animals,
the usually less than adequate gates and the hoof trimmer!
Avoid sending someone to round up another
group of cows while you are still trimming in the vicinity
of the holding pen. every effort made to keep
the animals calm will be rewarded over time.
For an extensive study of cow behavior go
to this web site featuring Dr. Temple Glandin at http://www.grandin.com
. For information most likely to be useful in
developing cow handling skills, take this shortcut to Dr
Glandin's site: http://www.grandin.com/references/new.corral.html
try using a 1x30 inch belt sander with
a special 400 grit belt designed for this purpose. The belts are available from the
ST PIERRE HOOF CARE
Online Store. The belts are more flexible than regular
sanding belts. This prevents gouging while following the
curve of the hoof knife. The process has evolved into
a two part system that uses a 150-220 grit belt to reduce
the bevel and the 400 grit special belt to sharpen the edge. Caution: wear
gloves, safety glasses and go slowly. the knife hook will
catch your belt and rip it in half if you are careless.
Follow this link to get more detailed instructions for
sharpening knives with a belt sander.
HOW TO SHARPEN
Occasionally a knife handle will start to
break up before the blades' usefulness is over.
Using black electricians tape to hold the handle
together is helpful but doesn't last long. Try using
3M Scotch Brand strapping tape first and finish with several
wraps of the electricians tape.
The easiest way to clean knives is to soak
them in hot water for about an hour or longer and then
brushing them clean under running water. Air drying
overnight in a warm room is sufficient. placing knives
on a hot radiator is not recommended unless the knives are
removed as soon as they appear dry. Fast high
temperature drying may cause the handles to fracture
cutting edge restoration: If you find yourself with
a very dull knife towards the end of the day and have run out of
sharp knives or don't have your sharpening equipment with you,
try this quick fix to get you by. This assumes you
have at least two knives on hand and both are dull. take
one of the knives in one hand, turn it over so that you are
using the square edge of your blade, and not the cutting edge.
use this edge in a sliding, downward shaving motion against the
cutting edge of your other knife. It is similar to the
action of scissor blades in motion. Do it on both sides of
cutting edge several times. This will not make your knife
razor sharp but you will be amazed at how much it improves your
knife's ability to cut again.
|Working In Cold
Cold weather is always a problem for both
the hoof trimmer and the cow. Cows have four
legs but as soon as they walk on ice, it wouldn't matter if
they had eight legs, they more often than not fall and
injure themselves. As for the hoof trimmer, the cold
temperatures make it difficult to treat injuries when
working with bandaging material and adhesives used to apply
blocks or shoes. The
Hoof Trimmers Association Newsletter of March 2001 features an excellent article
covering this topic. It has a variety of ideas ranging from
custom designed heated trailers to heated tool boxes
If you are fortunate enough to have room
for an extra aluminum undercarriage box such as the one in
you can convert it to a heated insulated container at low
cost and is economical to keep warm. the storage box
is 19Hx18Wx48L. A shorter box would work equally well.
purchase a 4x8 sheet of 3/4 or 1 inch foil backed Celetex™
insulation board. (about $10.00) cut the top and bottom
pieces first and glue in place with PL3OO($2.00) or
similar product used to glue styrofoam products. cut
the end pieces and back panel next and glue them in place.
be careful to cut them for a tight fit as they will help
keep the top in place if the glue should ever lose its grip.
cut a piece for the door. you may have to cut several pieces
and or make notches for the door closing mechanism.
don't worry about a tight fit around the door edges. adding
a liner of 1/16 white fiberglass panel is optional as it has
little insulation quality but does help protect your
insulation. You might consider covering the bottom
only. a piece of plexiglass would work also.
next you need to add a short electrical outlet bar. (about
$9.00) Mount the bar to small thin board and use stainless
steel bolts to secure it to the back of the box at least 5
inches below the ceiling. drill a hole where you want
the lead cord to exit making sure to use conduit or other
means to keep the cord from becoming frayed and
dangerous. buy a simple two prong converter that you
can screw a light bulb into and plug it in to the outlet
bar. Use a 100 watt rough service bulb. keep the box
plugged in overnight and when you get to the job
site. From personal experience, a 100 watt bulb will
keep the temperature at 65 degrees when it is 0 degrees
outside if you use 3/4 celetex insulation board. one
inch material would of course be even better. You could
occasionally add a second bulb for colder days and/or to
have more heat. Be careful not to place
flammable material near the bulbs.
in Hot Humid Weather
use a 6 inch sheet rock taping blade to
scrape off heavy manure buildup before leaving the job site.
line your table with quarter inch high
density plastic bed liner material. it cleans up
easier than steel or wood.
Table Design Ideas
Preparation for Blocking
preparing a hoof for blocking can be time
consuming, especially if the outer hoof wall is heavily
soiled and/or extra hard. a used trimming wheel with
dull blades mounted to a four inch economy grinder makes an
excellent tool for cleaning the outer hoof walls without the
chance of cutting too deeply into the horn.
Most customers provide the gates necessary
for creating small holding pens if a permanent one doesn't
already exist. Bringing your own supply of gates is
cumbersome and involves a lot of clean up time between job
sites. Sometimes however, the customer doesn't always
have just the right size you need, or you spend a lot of
time waiting for someone to go get a different one.
One solution is to purchase a couple of four foot and 6
foot gates of light or medium duty construction. Use
ropes or small chains to tie them together in various
arrangements according to your needs. The ropes or
chains can double as hinges if for instance you need to
create a corner or a self standing gate situation. The
reason for using short gates in the first place is mainly
because they are easy to transport and handle. Most
layover chutes and uprights can fit these gates inside the
table for transport. It works even better if you have
a layover chute with a hydraulic belly strap arm which can
be used to hold the gates in place.
Some tie stall jobs require removing the
cows from their stanchions and then bringing them back,
sometimes without any help from the customer. tie a 6
foot gate and a 4 foot gate together with ropes or chains as
hinges. Bring the gates together just enough so they
stand up on their own. Place the gates just beyond the stall
where a cow will return in such a fashion that she will
naturally be directed into her stall. Most cows know
where their stall is but just can't resist the temptation to
run up and down the barn a few times. This method isn't
foolproof but it works most of the time. An extra wide
alley might require using two 6 foot gates instead of a 6'
and a 4' gate.
Try adding a layer of "confusion" to the entry from the cow pen
to your chute. Do this by adding gates to force the cow to make
several turns before getting to the entrance of the chute.
By the time she realizes what has happened, her ability to turn
and run has been reduced.
cleaning soiled angle grinders with water is
not practical. Wrap the angle grinder in a very moist towel
or several moist shop rags for about an hour and wipe clean
with paper towels. repeat if needed. use a stiff bristle
steel brush on non plastic surfaces.
keep your grinders clean between farms by
wrapping vet wrap around the grinder before each new job and
replacing it before the next job. (keep the air vents open!)
Orange seems to be the best color for visibility.
Use twist sticks if available. They cost a
bit more but you actually save money, especially if you have
a tendency to break the regular sticks, which seems to
happen quite often when in a hurry.
Marking foreheads is not always the best
choice because cows sometimes head butt and exchange paint
in the process.
Vet wrap and Coflex don't stick well in Cold
weather. Store wraps in a medium size cooler with a
gallon of hot water in a used anti freeze container or
something similar before going to work.
When opening a new wrap, stuff the plastic
jacket inside the center of the roll. It helps avoid a
messy work area and makes it easy to handle clean up chores
at the end of the trimming session.
find that a Coflex wrap does not work well the next day after it
has been opened. Try to keep it in an airtight container
at room temperature, or better yet, start the day with a fresh
and Cleaning Wheels
place dirty wheels into a small pail with
dish soap and hot water. let soak for an hour and
clean with a stiff bristle plastic brush under running
use the small square end of a chain saw file
to clean the manure and dirt from indexing screws.
works best also under running water.
keep a small can of 3 in 1 oil (any oil is
fine) and put a drop on every screw before reinserting. The
torq screw head will last longer.
blades that no longer do an effective job
on soft free stall feet may still be useful on very dry,
hard tie stall cows' feet. working with dry hard
tie stall feet sometimes leads to one or more shattered
blades before the day's work is done. save money by
recycling used blades.
check out the HOOF GUY™ LEG RESTRAINT SYSTEM
available for purchase from the ST PIERRE
HOOF CARE Online Store.
We have used a strap and modified vise grip system from day one
of our hoof trimming operation thirteen years ago. In
February 2002, we developed a more robust clamping system for
our straps. By popular demand we have decided to make it
available for purchase. As of February 2003, the original
restraints are still going strong on our chute which sees about
16,000 cows pass through on an annual basis.
Make sure your gates are always well
secured. In the ten years I have been trimming, most
of my close calls with injuries involved a cow jumping a
gate and being too close to the action when the ropes or
chains didn't hold up to expectations!
Always inquire if their is a bull in the
herd you are trimming. Sooner or later most bulls will
become too mean to work with and you could be the trigger
that pushes the bull into dangerous aggressive
behavior, especially since you are a stranger and are
messing with his "ladies"!
a cow shows agressive behavior, try adding an extra gate inside
your pen in such a way that you can get behind it as quickly as
possible. Safety is ALWAYS worth the effort!
GOT HOOF? When using a tilt
table a cow will occasionally pull her front feet up under
herself and refuses to put it back down, especially as she
is tipped onto her side and her own body weight helps her
keep it trapped. At this point it is hard to
grab any part of the leg for pulling purposes as usually you
can only see the toes protruding from under her chest.
Take your nippers and grab the end of the toe
approximately where you would nip the toe anyway and begin
pulling with a steady pressure. Eventually the cow gives up,
all you need is a little "patience"!
When trimming the front feet on a tilt
table, there is a tendency for the toes to squeeze together
which makes it difficult to trim in between. Try putting
short pieces of biodegradable material between the toe
before starting. try using cornstalks, sunflower stalks,
burdock stalks or similar materials. use pieces about
an inch long by 3/8 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Place the
stalk in between the toe and as far into the interdigital
space as possible. When finished, you can leave the stalk in
place and it will fall out when she starts walking.