Yesterday I was trimming toes on the replacement ewes that will lamb in March. I wanted to get their feet trimmed before they were too large.
Trimming the feet of sheep is not all technical or hard, once you have the sheep to where you can get ahold of a foot to trim. I just trim off the hoof wall the is curling or longer than the pad of the hoof. You want to trim the tips back to keep the hoof wall from curling upward as the hoof wall grows out. Sounds simple. Trimming is simple, like clipping your fingernails.
Only when you are clipping your fingernails, you hold your finger still. Sheep do not like to hold their feet still. I use a chute I run the sheep into, squeeze them against the side and tip them almost on their back. The floor of the chute can be lowered out of the way, and I can have full sight of the sheep’s feet.
You can trim feet without a chute, by putting the sheep on their rump and holding the feet to trim. Or have someone else put the sheep on their rump and you hold and trim feet. Placing a sheep on their rump, keeps them calm from running away, like shearers do when shearing. It is physically demanding work.
A sheep deck chair is another tool, not as pricey as a chute, but enables you to restrain the sheep in a position to trim the feet. I have not used one, so I am not sure how to get a sheep in the deck chair. I do know several people who do or have used them.
These pictures are of deck chairs offered by Premier1 Supplies and can be found at premier1supplies.com
I have restrained sheep by tying them to the fence with a rope halter and picked up each foot for trimming. It is hard on the back as you are constantly bent over. Sheep are not happy with you picking one foot up at a time. I did train several sheep to stand quietly for the feet to be trimmed, similar to a horse standing for the farrier. After doing the trimming this way, some learn to stand and others do not like it.
The sheep feet need to be trimmed and looked at to prevent lameness, foot scald, foot rot and thrush. If your sheep can not walk, they can not graze or take care of lambs.
***I am not an affiliate of Premier 1 Supplies, although I do purchase certain items from them.