Justin Addy, Hoof trimmer, Justin Addy’s Bovine Hoof Care For Justin Addy, nothing is more fulfilling than seeing his work result in a healthier, happier cow.
“The best part of my job is fixing the cows,” the hoof trimmer says. “When they are sore and then you come back later and see how much better they are doing.”
Addy has been trimming hooves on central Minnesota dairies for 13 years, canvassing the countryside in a 150-mile radius of his home in Sartell. He started his business, Justin Addy’s Bovine Hoof Care, after completing a three-month apprenticeship, but his learning did not stop there. He has twice completed both technical and advanced courses through the Dairyland Hoof Care Institute, under the instruction of his role model and mentor, Karl Burgi.
Addy also looks to his colleagues to learn more, having trimmed alongside at least 100 other hoof care professionals. He sees each of these opportunities as a chance to learn more about his trade. “You can pick up a lot of tiny little things and bring them back,” he adds.
There are a few tools of his trade that keep Addy trimming efficiently:
Hoof trimming chute
Addy began his career with an upright chute, but he has since converted to a layover chute. This gives him a better view and more access to all four feet at once. “I can tip the cow over and see the entire foot,” he says. “If she has a problem up-front like a vertical crack, I can see it.” Turning the cow on her side also exposes her udder, so he can take advantage of an opportunity to safely singe hair or treat udder rot.
Running four different grinders helps Addy to operate efficiently and be prepared for any situation that may arise as he trims. Each grinder has a different disk and is suited for its own particular task. He starts with a grinder for removing hoof, then switches to one for clipping around and modeling the foot. He uses another grinder to flatten the toe, and he has one more for trimming dew claws.
Addy never leaves home without an arsenal of sharp hoof knives. He prefers a double-edged knife, and at any given time, he has eight of them on the chute. Part of his equipment maintenance routine is sharpening his knives weekly. “A dull knife is dangerous,” he says.
For the past five years, Addy has been using this data recording system to keep accurate and organized records for his clients. It allows him to track history and identify certain problems with a herd and the time of year they typically occur. “After you have been there a couple of years, you can pull that up and see the graphs and see where problems come up during certain times of the year,” he adds. “We can then be more aggressive with the hoof trimming to straighten it out. Information doesn’t lie. It’s all right there – down to the percentage.”
“Blocks save cows,” Addy affirms. He uses a variety of different blocks depending on the problem to relieve some of the weight on the problem toe. Whether using wood or plastic blocks, he sees a benefit. “If we didn’t have blocks, cows would be in big trouble,” he says. PD
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