Keeping 1,188 feet happy and healthy!
A large part of preventative care our animals receive at ZoFo is regular foot examinations and trims. This requires a lot of bending over from our staff! We have such a varied population of animals and each species has its own management requirements. Just like human fingernails, the hooves and nails of our animals continuously grow. Unlike human nails, which primarily provide protection to our toes and fingers, hooves are essential for proper weight bearing and locomotion. If neglected, the excess tissue can break or become misshapen which could result in lameness problems and hinder the ability to move around normally. There are several factors that can influence the frequency of this care such as the natural wearing down of normal growth through movement or environmental factors such as ground surface types. Even prior diet and foot care early in life influences individual needs.
We have 30 sheep and goats that get their feet trimmed every 3 months – that is 120 feet every 3 months or 480 feet per year. Several of our goats have had prior episodes of laminitis (inflammation of the part of the hoof that connects the soft vascular internal structures to the hoof wall) that occurred before they came to live at ZoFo so their feet require more frequent attention. Their feet now have irregularities that cause the feet to be misshapen and if they are allowed to grow too much, the goats become foot sore.
ZoFo has nine cats and two ferrets that each receive monthly nail trims and nail bed inspection – that is 44 feet every month or 528 feet per year!
Our 3 livestock guard dogs also have their feet inspected and nails trimmed quarterly and we are sure to attend to their dew claws – 12 feet every 4 months or 36 feet per year.
Our four pigs travel to Colorado State University twice a year for their hoof care. The veterinary staff uses sedation and specialized tools to trim the feet. This is also a very good time to clean their ears and perform a thorough skin inspection – 32 feet per year.
The 14 alpacas and llamas receive twice yearly foot care and trims; once during shearing and the second time about 6 months later – 112 feet per year.
This means we trim at least 1,188 feet every year!
Our donkeys are on a more frequent foot trimming schedule, typically every 8-10 weeks like most horses and they are attended to by farriers – professionals that specialize in horse (or donkey) hoof care.
Even our chickens, guinea hens and peacocks have their feet inspected and trimmed as needed every 3 months. Our roosters can grow some very long spurs that can cause injury to other birds (and humans) so we keep those trimmed and short!
Less frequently we also attend to the feet of our turtles, rabbits and cows. Regular evaluations of these animals determine the need for trimming. Over time, most of our animals have become quite accepting of this regular care.
Trimming feet is always a team effort, our staff need to know not only how to trim feet but also, how to restrain each species (and certain individuals) to minimize any stress while this important task is completed. Restraint is part knowledge, part timing, part strength, and a lot of compassion and feel.
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