One of the least enjoyable, but very necessary duties of the shepherd is trimming sheep hooves. If you’re just getting started or have somehow (miraculously) been able to pass this off to a friend (or angel of mercy) in the past, chances are that your good luck won’t last forever and the time will come when you must teach yourself how to trim sheep hooves. In this article I’ll explain how to safely trim your sheep’s hooves step-by-step without injuring yourself, or your sheep.
To help the uninitiated learn how to trim sheep hooves we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to sheep hoof trimming, which includes pictures, graphics and a short, informative video on the subject.
Need Hoof Trimmers? Consider Our Picks
A pair of good, sharp hoof trimmers will make a huge difference on the speed with which you can trim your sheep’s hooves. This can reduce stress on the sheep and save you time. Here are a few pairs I recommend:
- Zenport Q91 Hoof Trimmer (Best Overall) – Check Price
- Premier ExoTrim Serrated (Best Serrated) – Check Price
- Zenport Q140DX 7″ Hoof Trimmer – Check Price
These hoof trimmers are typically in stock and available for sale on Amazon.com (where these links will take you).
How Often Should You Trim Sheep Hooves?
The answer to this common question is that it varies. Sheep hooves grow at different rates, and the frequency with which you must trim hooves in your flock of sheep can be affected by many factors.
Sheep in wet environments where there aren’t many rocks or hard surfaces for the hooves to be worn down will likely need to have their hooves trimmed more often.
If you’re in dry, rocky terrain you may be able to get away with one or two times per year for your brood ewes.
Best practice is to pay attention to your flock’s hooves, see how your sheep are (or aren’t) getting around and to be proactive about caring for your sheep’s feet. If a sheep can’t move well a number of other sheep diseases and issues may arise.
Sheep Hoof Trimming Equipment You’ll Need
The main item you’ll need to trim your sheep’s feet is a comfortable, appropriately sized set of hoof trimmers. We recommend the orange-handled shear magic hoof trimmers, although there are other options which will get the job done. We’ve provided some detailed reviews of sheep hoof care products with links to purchase any of the items online in another section of this site and hope that you find this helpful!
Some shepherds like to have a comfortable set of gloves to protect their hands (a good idea), a hoof pick to clean out manure and bedding (I find that your hoof trimmers can work fine for this, allowing you to carry one less thing) and if you’re battling hoof rot in your flock, you may want to consider having some Dr. Naylor’s Hoof n’ Heel or Kopertox on hand to treat this infection.
How to Trim Sheep Hooves (a step-by-step illustrated guide)
We realize that a picture is worth a thousand words, so we’re providing an illustration of the steps involved in trimming sheep hooves. Please use the graphic below as a step-by-step guide to sheep hoof trimming.
If you think others would be interested you are welcome to share this on your site – I just ask that you credit us as the source with a link so your readers can find our other articles!
Now Let’s take a Look at the Process on an Actual Sheep Hoof
Overgrown Sheep Hoof
In the image above you can see a very overgrown sheep hoof with growth curling over the pad or sole of the foot and down from the heel. This condition makes it easy for bacteria, bedding or mud to get caught between the hooves or in the space between the overgrown flap and the healthy hoof, creating an ideal environment for the anaerobic bacteria which cause hoof rot.
Half-Trimmed Sheep Hoof
What a difference! You can now see a side-by-side comparison of the same sheep hoof with one half freshly trimmed. It’s obvious that finishing the job will be good for the sheep and a clean, trimmed hoof won’t give bacteria anywhere to hide.
Trimmed Sheep Hoof
Totally worth the effort! This sheep will be much more comfortable.
Sheep Hoof Trimming Video Demonstration
Here’s a useful demonstration video of how to trim sheep hooves.
Like anything with sheep, the important thing is to be patient and take your time. Remember that people have been trimming sheep hooves for hundreds of years – embrace taking part in this ancient shepherd tradition.