Gauteng Smallholder October 2015 - Page 46

From page 43 HOOF CARE protect it from any injuries that may come during exercise. The shoe is nailed or glued onto the hoof around the outer rim of the wall. With the onset of the rainy season horses will find themselves walking in mud. This, and the moisturising effect of wetness is a major cause of shoe loss, as the mud works its way in between the hoof and the shoe, while the nails holding the shoe work loose in the softened hoof wall. Before long the shoe is sucked off the hoof, the clinches of the nails ripping through the hoof wall in the process. Daily checks should be carried out, therefore, to ensure that shoes remain tight. Doing so is easy: simply clean the hooves well and walk the horse on a concrete or brick-paved surface. If you hear a clanking sound from the shoe, it is loose. To tighten it back into position is most easily done with a tool called a nail clincher or crocodile jaw. The effect of the tool is to push the head of the nail into the shoe and hoof while simulta- Nail clincher or crocodile jaw 44 www.sasmallholder.co.za neously exerting a tightening pressure on the cinch. It is important that owners become familiar with the rate of growth of their animals' feet, not only so that they can keep them trimmed, but so that they are attentive to any changes in the rate of growth, which could be an indication of a serious problem. Any hoof overgrowth can cause discomfort to the animal. The bones in the hoof are meant to sit squarely inside the hoof, at an approximately 50 degree angle to the ground. When hooves become too long, the weight-bearing surfaces of the hoof can be changed and unbalanced, and the bones can begin to splay inside the foot. The main goal of trimming hooves is to restore the natural shape of the hoof so that weight is distributed evenly and in a manner that is best for all structures of the hoof and the comfort of the animal. You might also want to consider using footbaths. There are different concentrated hoof care solutions available for different species, for regular cleaning and hoof strengthening. You can build a concrete footbath or use a portable footbath. Further preventative measures include ensuring that the animal's bedding and walking areas are clean and well maintained – with no holes or foreign bodies. Regular inspection of the pasture is very important, as wire and other dangerous waste material will mysteriously appear and pose a danger to your livestock's feet. While good maintenance can help eliminate lameness problems, there is always some chance that an animal will contract a disease or develop a condition that must be treated.