Over the years I have been asked many times what equipment I use, what equipment would I recommend, how do I sharpen my knives etc, so I thought I’d explain some of my preferences.
There are many knives on the market, costing from a few pounds to £40+. Over the years I have used both cheaper and more expensive knives, but what do I prefer?? Cheaper knives tend to be made from a harder metal, whereas more expensive knives tend to be made from soft metal. Harder metals can be harder to sharpen, so will need sharpening more often and wear quickly. The handles are soft wood, soaking up water and causing them to disintegrate before snapping. Midrange knives (and the more expensive knives )are made from a softer metal with hard wood or plastic handles. Is it worth the expense? Do the knives wear quickly being a soft metal? The answer is no. We don’t technically sharpen our knives, we buff our knives. Sharpening the knives on a sand band or sharpening wheel will wear knives quickly by removing metal, buffing the knives smooths out the metal to a sharp point. I personally use Tech TV knives (red and green pictured) and Agri Toro (also pictured). Both are midrange knives that have lasted a year, only needing to be sharpened a hand full of times just to correct the angle of the blade. Always remember to only sharpen one side of the blade and buff the blade to remove the burr.
Snips play a big part in foot trimming, from removing toe length, to helping remove blocks. Pictured are two pairs of snips, left is a cheaper pair that has short handles and a thick snip edge. The edge makes it harder for the snips to slice through hoof and less leverage with short handles. Pictured right are a pair of midrange snips that have longer handles for more leverage and a finer snip edge.
We can all recall the lame cow we trimmed but couldn’t find a lesion. Hoof testers are a great tool to apply pressure around the foot to find a reaction. From simple bruising, to a hidden white line problem, hoof testers can help identify a painful focus. If the cow doesn’t react, you will have peace of mind that the foot isn’t the issue.
Before I start talking about grinding discs, I would always recommend attending a grinder course before using one on a cow. I use two types of grinding disc, a Wopa 6 bladed disc and a Trim Tec 6 bladed disc. The Wopa disc is great for anyone starting off using a grinder as the blades are less aggressive. A 3 bladed disc is also available for the less experienced trimmer. The Trim Tec blades are thicker and more aggressive, but last longer on those longer days. The blades for both discs are four sided, but I personally only turn two blades each time. If more than two blades are turned, the disc will be too aggressive, not only resulting in over trimming, but kickback of the grinder resulting in injury.