Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Jennie Lambert’s daughter.
The hooves of animals grow in the same way that our human fingernails grow. They can wear down naturally if the animal spends a lot of time on rough ground, but this tends not to happen if the animal is in a nice, grassy paddock. If the hooves get too long, they can cause discomfort for the animal. They can also tear and break, leaving an uneven edge which is a potential site for infection. This is why it’s important for farmers to check and trim the hooves of their animals, in a similar way to trimming their own fingernails and toenails.
When we put this question to our animal manager Jess, she had to grab a pen and paper to do the calculations. All of our sheep, cows, goats, ponies, donkeys and alpacas have their hooves checked at least once a month as a routine. They don’t all need trimming each month, but they do need checking. The team might also check and trim the hooves of an individual animal if it becomes lame or shows signs of ill foot health.
Jess reckons it takes 5 minutes to catch, check and trim a sheep and 10 minutes to do each of our equines (ponies and donkeys). If she needed to trim all of the hooves at the farm in one day, it would take her approximately 6 hours and 40 minutes (without a coffee break!).
Jess very kindly also offered to let us film her trimming a sheep’s hooves. This particular sheep took 2 minutes and 58 seconds to trim, but we’ve increased the speed of the video in places so you can see the whole process in just under 2 minutes.