Your animals’ hooves are much different than human feet or toenails, although they do have some similar components, they require special care. Regular hoof maintenance and trimming are critical to optimizing your livestock’s overall health and wellbeing. If your livestock are show animals or working animals, proper hoof care is even more important. Join us in today’s post as we discuss some of the hoof basics of caring for your livestock.

At Conroe Feeders, we are livestock experts and have all of the tools you need to properly care for your animals’ hooves. For the tools and advice you need to keep your animals healthy, stop by our farm supply store today.

Some of the basics are similar for all hooved animals, including the importance of routine maintenance and trimming, but since there are significant differences in the anatomy and maintenance steps, we will break up the discussion of the hoof care by the type of animal.

Horse Hooves

Horses require daily hoof care. Each day, before the horses move to pasture or begin working, each hoof should be inspected and rocks, dirt, and debris should be removed. Horses’ hooves should be trimmed every six weeks, whether they wear shoes or not. In the winter, you may be able to wait longer between hoof trimming. Whether your horse wears shoes or not, it is critical to keep the hooves balanced. Balanced hooves reduce strain on bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments and support the horse’s entire bodily structure.

Nutrition plays an important part in hoof maintenance. The better quality, nutrient-rich food your horse eats, the healthier their hooves will be. Horses should consume high-quality hay and foods that have a proper vitamin and mineral balance. Horses should always have access to plenty of clean, freshwater.

If you do not have the time or skills to maintain proper care for your horse’s hooves, you should consider hiring a farrier to take care of your animals’ hooves and replace shoes.

Swine

Regular hoof trimming is important to maintaining a healthy pig. Beginning to file and trim hooves when they are still small piglets will help desensitize them to the experience and make life easier for both of you as they grow. If you are going to tackle swine hoof trimming yourself, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the hoof anatomy to avoid causing damage to sensitive tissues. Swine hooves, like human nails, will continue to grow if left unchecked. Growing hooves can cause the swine foot to eventually lift off the ground, resting on the hooves, much like nail high heels or platform boots. These overgrown hooves can cause the hooves to crack or break and can cause the legs to push back, damaging the swine’s posture, joints, or ligaments.

You’ll need to trim and shape the hooves to keep them healthy and prevent cracks. Cut or trim excess hoof length and then file with an emery board or Dremel to round out the hoof fronts. Swine also have two dewclaws that will need to be trimmed. Be mindful that the dewclaws have soft tissues inside, so care must be taken in trimming. Calluses on the pads of the foot can be smoothed out as well. Keeping the swine’s hooves well-conditioned helps to promote nourishment and healthy hooves.

Now that we’ve covered horses and swine, stay tuned for next week’s post when we discuss hoof care for cattle, goats, and sheep. At Conroe Feeders, we have all the supplies and tools you need to perform proper hoof care, in addition to high-quality livestock feed to keep your animals healthy. Stop by our feed store today!