Friday, July 27, 2007

The Cattle's Turn

It was time for Dakota and Ladysmith to get their feet trimmed. Way, way, way past time for Ladysmith. The last time I had her feet trimmed was probably about eight years ago!

It wasn't entirely my fault. When I first bought her the guy had told me they don't trim their cattle's feet; they wear down by themselves naturally. Well, I don't have 20+ acres for them to run around in either.

When I realized I was going to have to do something I called my vet who gave me two names of cow feet trimmers to call. The first one didn't know what an Irish Dexter was and when I described Ladysmith his first concern was that she may not be big enough to fit in the machine thing they use. He asked if she had horns and when he found out she did he absolutely refused to come out. He was afraid her horns would damage the hydraulics. No amount of assurance on my part could convince him otherwise.

I called the second guy. We had a little bit of a language barrier, as he spoke mostly Mexican and I don't. But regardless, we managed to make an appointment and he showed up. He was looking very doubtful as I led Ladysmith to the tilt machine. We got her into position and he started doing his thing. The machine is made for cows that weigh at least 500 pounds more than our little Dexters so she almost was too small. But she did fit okay, though her legs were stretched and her feet just barely peeked out of the holding chains.

It seemed like it only took a few minutes, and before she knew what happened Ladysmith was back on terra firma and back in her pen. I think he charged me $10 and I gave him an extra $10 in hopes that he would have no qualms about returning when the time came again.

Eventually the next time did come around and for some reason the trimmer would not return my calls. I think I called about five times. The vet's office didn't have any new names so I was kind of out of luck. I checked at a local farrier supply but they didn't have a listing of cow hoof trimmers. There is no listing of the sort in the phone book either.

Over the years Ladysmith's feet grew and would break off. They were not what I would call ideal, because they seemed too long all the time, but I didn't know what else to do. So long as the tips kept breaking off I thought this might work after all.

A few weeks ago I noticed her feet were not breaking off and she was getting that "slipper" look. I knew this wasn't good. It interferes with the way she walks. It's like you walking with scuba flippers on. It's not real comfortable.

When I saw her actually limping one morning I freaked out. I called my vet. When he examined her he said the limping was from her overly long feet. He didn't know of any hoof trimmers specifically but said his office would try and find someone for me. A week went by and I never heard anything.

One day my friend Vicki called and when she first asked what I'd been up to lately I pretty much freaked out on her. I told her how worried I was about my poor cow (and Dakota was going to need a trim too) and I couldn't find a trimmer, yada yada. Just about that time her husband, a dairyman and my hay supplier, walked in and she told him about my dilemma. He must have been in a good mood or something. He told me in two weeks his trimmer was coming and for me to bring my cows. YAY! I was ecstatic.

Yesterday was that day. Everything went really smooth. Now both my cows (cow and bull) have pretty feet again. Vicki's out of town this week, but when she gets back I'm going to have her and her husband over for a meal of their choice!

Dakota was first.
His feet are chained up. The trimmer thoughtfully put a towel under the chain that holds his feet still.

After nipping off the excess, he grinds the feet to a perfect shape. It's just like being at the manicurist and getting your acrylic nails done!
Ladysmith was next.
On a "normal" cow, the head would be a lot closer to the top of that head slot.
Here you can see how terribly over grown her feet are.
The trimmer is nipping the excess off.
Using the grinder to smooth and shape.
Ladysmith and Dakota back home after getting their feet trimmed and now enjoying breakfast.
Ladysmith is still limping a little, but that's probably because she's still kind of sore. I'll be keeping an eye on that just to make sure all is well there.

The next pedicure is scheduled for one year from now!

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