Hoof trimming methods
There are various methods used for foot trimming but the most widely accepted method which has been most thoroughly researched is the (Dutch) Five Step Method. For a review see the Clinically Appraised Topic (click here). Other methods include the White Line Atlas Method, the Kansas Method and the Roger Blowey (white line) method.
Dutch Five Step Method
1. Trim inside hind claw/outside front claw to the correct length. Correct length will vary by age, breed, previous disease and, to some degree, size of animal. For mature Holsteins this could be 75-90mm toe length measured from where the wall goes hard at the top of the claw (coronary band). Remove excess sole at the toe to leave at least 6mm sole depth, sparing the heel and wall.
2. Match the other claw to the correct toe length by bringing toes up together in line. Balance the claws, but not at all costs. Some breeds and cows with disease may require slightly unbalanced heels.
3. Model (dish) out the inner parts of both claws, behind the wall on the inner claw edge, to allow a flow of muck between the toes and to reduce weight bearing on the typical sole ulcer site.
For routine foot checks and trims, these three steps will be sufficient if no injury or problem is found. Proceed to steps 4 and 5 wherever a problem exists.
4. Alleviate weight-bearing from a painful claw. Applying a block to the sound claw is the most effective way of achieving this. Trimming down the back 2/3rds of the outside hind claw/inside front claw will help.
5. Remove loose horn, especially around painful lesions and in the back 2/3rds of the outside hind claw/inside front claw. Most innocuous lesions should be left, especially in the toe region.
Fig 1: Optimal toe length dependant on breed and age
Fig 2: Summary of the Dutch 5 step method