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Cows don't like pedicures

From the Farm

October 19, 2012
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

I am sitting up here in my office typing this column instead of being outside helping the guys get ready for the hoof trimmer's visit.

Blame it on poor preparation for a vacation with the girls! Can't wait for the vacation, but I have to finish up other things that take priority over outside work.

Just like people, cows need to have their nails, or hooves, trimmed on a regular basis.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

Our hoof-trimmer Glenn Beranek, of Glenn's Hoof Trimming, was scheduled to show up at 9:30 Tuesday morning. And, like usual, he was right on time.

There are many reasons we have Glenn come to take care of our cows' feet.

First, and foremost, is a nasty little problem called hairy heel warts. They form mostly on the back of the cows foot, right were the split of the hoof into two halves occurs. Occasionally, a cow will form one on the front part of a cow's foot, but that is rare. I am treating one cow right now that has a large one on the front of her right-rear foot. I think in the 20-plus years that I have been milking cows; I have seen no more than five warts on the front of a cow's foot.

Hairy heel warts stink like nothing I have ever smelled before. Yes, they smell more hideous than Russell's football-equipment bag, which smells like I don't know rotting corpses? I hold my breath when I clean that bag out.

Warts are definitely ugly. They look like someone grabbed a puffy cartoon octopus character right off the colorful pages of the comics and smacked it head first into the back of a cow's foot, causing it's legs to fill up with all the gooey stuff from octopus head.

I am not kidding!

Another comparison would be if someone figured out how to glue al dente elbow pasta (with one end pinched closed) to the back of the cow's foot. The growths wouldn't be that fat, but you get the idea of color and shape.

I do have a medication that I spray directly on the wart, when I find it. They are hard to see, especially when our cows have manure all over their feet.

The cows just love it when I squirt that medicine on a fresh wart.

No matter how much I apologize, they still quite perturbed with me. Wednesday morning I put some on that new-found, front-of-the-foot wart and every single time I walked by that particular cow, she would try to kick me.

Thank goodness for stainless steel pipes set at the proper height for protection.

There is another cow that requires Glenn's attention too.

I am unsure what exactly is causing her issue, but it looks very painful. It's like the hoof has separated from the foot. Upon speaking to Glenn he told me it was white line disease. It looks so painful. I hope he can fix her up.

Each time Glenn trims the hoof of a cow he makes sure to treat any ailments and then he wraps her foot with a brightly colored bandage.

It doesn't take long for the fluorescent orange and lime green bandages to get all dirty, but it sure looks cool when they are clean.

Each time a wrap is put on a cow, it's up to Steve and I to get that wrap off her foot about five days later.

That's not an easy task.

Take, for instance, that cow that tried to kick me Wednesday morning when I sprayed medicine on her new wart.

Oh, she's going to remember that I am the one that caused her so much pain. When she sees me walking across the parlor with a scissors in my hand, you can bet she is going to have flashbacks. She'll taunt me by telling me to "run with scissors."

Milking cows is way more than just going out each morning and evening to harvest milk. We need to give them pedicures.

Sometimes I think the cows really have it made.

If only they realized how nice they have it.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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