More than 300 hoof trimmers, experts and allied industry supporters teamed up to tackle some of the toughest issues facing dairy animal foot health during the 2016 Hoof Health Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, Feb. 17-20.

Coffeen peggy
Coffeen is a former editor and podcast host with Progressive Dairy. 

“It was all about gaining tools to be great ambassadors of hoof health and cow welfare and to network with other trimmers from all over the world,” Jamie Sullivan said. The trimmer from Manitoba recently took over the reins as the Hoof Trimmers Association (HTA) president, succeeding fellow Canadian Vic Daniel.

The four-day event, hosted by HTA, featured a full lineup of distinguished speakers representing research, academia, veterinary practice and the food industry. Together, they confronted the issue of lameness.

Sara Pedersen, Jennifer Walker and dairyman Henry Holtmann

Jennifer Walker, Dean Foods’ director of dairy stewardship, noted that nearly a quarter of dairy cows are classified as “clinically lame” and called trimmers to action by encouraging a collaborative approach with their dairy clients.

Hoof Trimmers Association belt buckle“We have to get together with the team and decide what we want to accomplish,” she said. “Change can happen, and it needs to happen if we are going to improve the welfare of dairy animals on our farms.”


Georgia trimmer Blake Hendirx his wife, Joleen and daughter Ruby Jo

Bringing an international perspective to the conversation was Sara Pedersen. The veterinarian and hoof health consultant from the United Kingdom honed in on chronic claw lesions such as wall ulcers, necrotic toe and axial wall cracks.

Jamie Sullivan, President of HTA shared his organization's objectives.

Though labeled as “non-healing” lesions, Pedersen has seen treatment successfully improve cow welfare and rebound productivity. The challenge is convincing dairy owners to invest in treatment. “It’s time to change the name,” she stated. “We can heal a [non-healing] lesion, and we can do it pretty quickly.”

Jan Shearer from Iowa State University discussed wound healing in further depth, pointing out that some topical treatments like tetracycline and copper sulfate can actually cause further irritation and delay recovery. “We don’t think those are probably the best things to use,” he said.

Three month old Nico, son of Jake and Ashley Konstabel of New YorkShearer also shared results from surveys of HTA members and veterinarians regarding the treatment of claw lesions. He found that the majority of trimmers and many vets are taking the following actions when warranted: Avoid damaging the hoof’s corium, use foot blocks to relieve weight-bearing from injured claws, bandage or wrap claw lesions and use topical treatments on lesions.

However, Gerard Kramer reminded attendees that, starting next year, tetracycline as a topical treatment for hoof lesions will only be available through a veterinary prescription. His research has looked at residues of the drug showing up in milk.

Tim Moffett entertained

Even though Kramer found detectable levels in milk from treated cows to be below the legal limit, he emphasized that food integrity must be at the forefront for both the trimmer and the dairyman. “We are in an era where food safety counts,” he said.

Kramer also reported on a study of trimming methods held during the 2014 Hoof Health Conference. Forty-four trimmers worked on five cadaver feet each, and measurements and methods were recorded.

Trade show had more than 30 companies displaying the latest in hoof care

He found most were using the functional trimming method, while others used the white-line method, a combination or the Kansas method. The majority of participants were trimming at the appropriate length and sole thickness, though he did observe some overtrimming of the walls.

In HTA business, Vic Larson from Minnesota assumed the role of president-elect, while Gary Buchholz from Michigan was selected as secretary. Christopher Weingart from Massachusetts joined the board as a director-at-large.

Outgoing HTA President Vic Daniel served as the "hoof referee"

Looking ahead, Sullivan believes he and his peers must recognize their role in reducing lameness and improving dairy animal welfare.

“Even though as hoof trimmers we always need to be sharpening our skills in our trade, and that will always be a key part of HTA, I see our organization becoming a vital part of delivering the message of preventative strategies for lameness at the farm level,” he said.

“I think as hoof trimmers we can be key in starting more collaboration among vets, nutritionists, farm personnel and other farm advisers.”  PD

PHOTO 1: It wasn’t all play and no work in Atlanta for the hoof trimmers, who participated in live cattle trimming and equipment demonstrations. Photo provited by HTA. 

PHOTO 2: Sara Pedersen, Jennifer Walker and dairyman Henry Holtmann joined together for a unique panel that addressed collaboration among the dairyman, trimmer, veterinarian and food industry. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

PHOTO 3: The Hoof Trimmers Association (HTA) hosted the Hoof Health Conference in Atlanta in February. Photo provided by HTA.

PHOTO 4: The Hoof Health Conference was a family affair for Georgia trimmer Blake Hendrix, his wife, Joleen, and daughter Ruby Jo. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

PHOTO 5: HTA President Jamie Sullivan shared his organization’s objectives, stating, “Our main goal is to do all we can to help improve lameness and welfare within the industry by equipping our members with the latest information and training.” Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

PHOTO 6: Three-month-old Nico, son of Jake and Ashley Konstabel of New York, proudly promoted his daddy’s hoof trimming service. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

PHOTO 7: Trimmers enjoyed the antics of Progressive Dairyman’s “Manure Spreader,” Florida dairyman and comedian Tim Moffett. He is pictured here with Dana Casto and Cheryl Mohn from Udder Tech. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

PHOTO 8: More than 30 companies displayed the latest in hoof health technology at the trade show. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

PHOTO 9: Outgoing HTA President Vic Daniel served as the “hoof referee” during demonstrations and trimming discussions. “A hoof trimmer has to act as a referee in the game of foot health among the animal, the environment, farm management and goals,” he stated. Photo provided by HTA.

Peggy Coffeen