NEW HAMBURG — Hoof trimmers are becoming harder and harder to find in Ontario.
“I’ve been trimming for 24 years and I haven’t taken a new customer in 15 years,” said Randy Lichti. He works out of New Hamburg and has about 20 regulars.
Renfrew County hoof trimmer Derek Sweeney said he is extremely busy and just can’t fit in new clients.
Lichti says when he first started, he had 60 customers but cut back as customers increased the size of their herds.
“That’s how farms go, all the farms are getting bigger. Hoof trimming becomes more important and they want you there more often and it eats up all the days,” Lichti explained. Typically, an adult cow needs their hooves trimmed twice a year.
Hobby farmers have a very hard time booking a trimmer. “We have to go home and wash everything before going to the next herd,” Lichiti said. “Beef guys often call for a one-off job and for many hoof trimmers, one cow isn’t worth the hassle.”
He returns to some farms every three weeks to manage 500 cows, he said. “You just have to coordinate and plan to make that work. I do between 35 and 45 cows a day.”
Vic Daniel, a hoof trimmer since 1984 and past president of the Hoof Trimmers Association, runs hoof trimming courses out of Arva. He teaches three courses, including two-day basic, three-day advanced, and four-day instructor course. He teaches cattle foot and leg anatomy, biomechanics, hoof health evaluation, trimming to correct measures, maintaining equipment, safety, and even trimming cadaver feet.
Daniel says most of his courses are sold out and he averages 40 attendants per year. Most students learn to trim for their own cattle and only a few have started a business, he says.
There are simply not enough hoof trimming businesses for the amount of cattle in the province, Daniel said. “There are just over 65 trimmers taking care of about 3,000 dairy herds and some beef herds.”